Congressional Chicken and Long-Term Dangers

Mitch McConnellLauren Fox at National Journal has been doing a lot of good reporting about the upcoming Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shutdown. But I have to admit to being flummoxed by the whole thing. The Republicans seemed determined to create fights with no other point than to make President Obama look bad. And then more often than not, they fail even at that. I now have a bit more sympathy for Charles Krauthammer; it must be really painful to watch your own party do this. And for what? Over the issue of “amnesty” for five million people that can be reversed the moment a Republican gets in the White House?

But Fox provided one clue to the situation in an article on Monday, Conservative Groups Won’t Budge in Their Opposition to a Clean DHS Funding Bill. It would seem that what conservatives want the Republicans in Congress to do is what they want America to do: look strong, beat their chests, pretend that they are more powerful than they really are. It’s pathetic, but that is about right. She quoted Dan Holler of Heritage Action saying, “If Senator McConnell reverses course and pulls this bill, without forcing the Democrats to get on it, that is going to embolden Senate Democrats to hold out constantly on every single bill.”

John BoehnerReally?! That’s what is going to make the Democrats do that? It isn’t, oh, I don’t know, six years of Senator McConnell doing exactly the same thing to the Democratic majority? That’s hard to imagine. But that actually circles back to Krauthammer. As I discussed before, he is delusional if he thinks that a government shutdown is going to be blamed on the Democrats. Everyone knows who wants a government shutdown. This is not an issue that can be finessed.

Fox continued, “Not blinking first, [Dan Holler] contends, is the only way Republicans can display dominance to Democrats in the new Senate.” What are they? A pack of dogs? Do conservatives really think that the Republican Party can bully its way to power? It all goes back to this general belief of the conservative movement in the United States that they can will themselves to power. The idea is that if they just hold out long enough — if they are willing to destroy the entire nation, then they can get their way. It is like a game of chicken.

Ted CruzBut as Jonathan Bernstein wrote yesterday, Will McConnell or Boehner Blink First? He noted, “John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are playing a game of chicken this week. Against each other. Whoever veers off first will lose more True Conservative points.” It all comes down to the fact that the Democrats don’t need to do anything. So the question is whether Boehner or McConnell will give in first.

But in addition to it all being pathetic, it is dangerous. We’ve long known that Boehner doesn’t have control of the crazies in his caucus, and now we know that McConnell doesn’t have control of the crazies in his — led by Ted Cruz who is a true believer in the will to power theory. And if they are acting this way about immigration, what’s going to happen when it comes to the debt ceiling. I find it all exhausting. These freaks can do untold damage — not just to the United States, but to the entire world. And it won’t hurt them. There will always be millions telling Ted Cruz that he’s a great man.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “Congressional Chicken and Long-Term Dangers

  1. I do not know why Obama has failed to absolutely pound the GOP over this whole situation. The GOP ran in 2014, in large part as the security party. Five months later, we have a GOP Congress being run by a Tea Party Caucus, drawn from districts that have almost no illegal aliens, that is demanding that unless we deport the children of poor immigrants, this Caucus will make sure that we partially open up the doors to airports to terrorists.

    I believe that the threats to our security are vastly overstated but according to the GOP, we are always just one slip up away from the dreaded “nuclear 9/11.” They claim that somehow Obama is selling out our security when he fails to routinely emphasize ISIL’s Islamic roots and he is Neville Chamberlain because he is not carpet bombing Mosul. At the same time, the GOP gets to defund the DHS and they have, thus far, paid no political price.

    As we know, the media are not liberal but they are not in the tank for the Tea Party either. President Obama really needs to be more forceful in this situation. He was clever enough to put the GOP in this bind, I do not why he suddenly cannot make political hay out of this.

    • Regarding Obama, I think he’s pretty good at playing these kinds of situations. He doesn’t focus on the news cycle — he plays a long game. That happened with Russia, and in the end, the conservatives looked like idiots. Does it matter? Of course not. I still hear people talking about how Russia stared down Obama and how we need a “strong” Republican who China and Russia will “respect.” It’s nonsense. If Obama were more bellicose toward the Republicans, it would be nice, but I don’t think it would make any difference in the long term.

      I read a theory recently — I think it was from Corey Robin — that the conservative movement is so crazy now because over the last 70 years they’ve managed to get everything they wanted. So the Republican Party really doesn’t stand for anything other than things that even they don’t want like getting rid of Social Security. I think there is a lot to that theory. So it makes perfect sense that the Republicans would scream “Terrorism!” at the same time they defund DHS.

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