All indications are now that the the current government shutdown and Debt Ceiling crises will be over shortly. At least they will for three months when the whole thing starts over. The Republicans have been chastened. It seems the Abba Eban’s comment applies especially well to the House Republicans, “Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources.”
Yesterday was fascinating. Boehner kept trying to find a bill he could pass that might lead to some face saving in this debacle. And you have to give the man credit. His ideas weren’t bad. But he was constrained by his caucus. Unfortunately for him, a large block of the Republican House members were only willing to accept total victory. But they don’t have the power to achieve that and so the only other option was total defeat. And that’s what it looks like we have today.
Of course, this is not how the Republicans will spin the deal. I suspect that Boehner will make a two-pronged (and contradictory) argument. First, he will say that he got Obama to negotiate and as a result they got the very important concession of income verification on the Obamacare exchanges. Second, he will say that Obama played unfair and that if the president cared about democracy, Obama would have given the Republicans all the things they requested—well, most, because Boehner is nothing if not reasonable. And the la-hand of the Freeeeee! And the hoooome, of thhhhhe, braaaave!
But what of the bitter enders? Have they learned their lesson? They haven’t. And they never will. The only way to get rid of this very dangerous element in Congress is to vote them out and replace them with more reasonable people. People who operate based upon faith will not respond to facts. When apocalyptic predictions turn out to be wrong, believers just rationalize them. In the case of the congressional bitter enders, they will likely just blame their leadership for not holding on until, well, the bitter end.
This is, however, a teachable moment. The Republicans did poorly at the polls after the 1995 government shutdown and many came away thinking the two were correlated. In fact, the correlation was fairly weak. But it’s all about perceptions. And if the Republicans do poorly at the polls next year, they too will likely perceive a correlation. Now we already know that shutdown or no, the Democrats are likely to do reasonably well next year. But a false connection in the minds of politicians and reporters could actually push the Republicans to behave more like a normal political party. And it wouldn’t hurt if they had fewer seats in Congress.
Election day is 4 November 2014. Mark your calendars!
Update (16 October 2013 3:24 pm)
Well, we got Boehner’s official statement. It was not the place for the full “Obama was mean to us” but it is implicit in “the legislative coalition the president has relied upon.” Overall, it is very weepy. As usual. I would feel sorry for him but I’m prejudiced against orange skinned people. Here is the statement, annotated by me: