Monday, October 14, 2013

"Snatching Defeat Away From The Jaws Of Victory'

'There are no Indians over that ridge! Trust me, boys!'
We love to hear people talk about 'constitution this' or 'constitution that'.

Inevitably, we usually find out they have not even ever read the US Constitution all the way through. Maybe the Cliff Notes version or perhaps the one where all the things they disagree with are redacted or blacked out.

Both sides do it. It has been that way since time immemorial.

This 'government shutdown to defund Obamacare' is just one more incident in US history where one faction loses several elections and then tries to hold a 'last stand' in the legislative process. Which turns out to be about as productive as the one gallant and dashing George Armstrong Custer led his army into at Little Big Horn.

'There are no Indians over that ridge!' goes the old saw about Custer's last words. Meaning 'there's no consequences' to making a futile last-ditch effort when the odds are stacked against you.

There are consequences to 'last stands' and elections come to think about it. Right? President Barack Obama famously spit these words into the face of the Republican minority in 2009/10 when they wanted to play at least a small part in the reformation of 16% of our nation's GDP when he pushed Obamacare through Congress and then signed it in March of 2010.

Ronald Reagan was able to work with recalcitrant Democrats in the House under Tip O'Neill in the early 1980s for 2 reasons: 1) he had a GOP Senate majority to work with for the first time in 30 years and 2) 91 Southern Democrats were in the House who were culturally and politically more conservative than national liberal Democrats.

Reagan also liked people. He disagreed with Tip O'Neill in public but would drink scotch and play gin rummy with him in the evenings after battling it out all day. They were sort of like that old wily coyote Sam and the sheep-herding dog Ralph in the Merrie Melodies cartoons who punched the clock every day after 'work': combatants during the day; friends after work:

We have had people on Capitol Hill tell us that President Obama really does not like to be around Republicans, or Representatives or Senators of any political persuasion at all. He would much prefer to just be Ralph the coyote doing whatever he wants whenever he wants to and avoid the messy business of compromise, negotiation and intellectual combat altogether.

He could offer a symbolic bone to the Republicans in the House in a small gesture and this shutdown would be over in 10 seconds. But he will never do it because he is just as ideological on the left as the Tea Party is on the right.

We do not support the government shutdown to defund Obamacare simply because there is no correlation or connection between the two.

We prefer the constitutional way which is to win elections and then send massive numbers of House Members and Senators to Capitol Hill to unwind Obamacare through normal process: reduced funding through appropriations bills every year and budget reconciliation bills where the real work of unwinding and/or reforming entitlements such as Obamacare has to be done anyway.

The 'way' to victory is to win elections, plain and simple. Did you know that we have 46 GOP Senators today in the US Senate?  Care to guess how many we would have had had the Tea Party not killed incumbent GOP Senators and then lost with less-than-stellar candidates in 2010 and 2012?

That is right. 51 GOP Senators.  The GOP nominated the following Tea Party-backed Senate candidates in the last 2 elections who then went on to ignominious defeat in the general election:

  1. Christine ('I am not a witch!) O'Donnell in DE in 2010 who lost to Chris Coons; 
  2. Sharon Angle in NV vs Harry Reid who was on his political deathbed in 2010; 
  3. Richard ('Rape is the will of God!') Mourdock Indiana, 2012, 
  4. Todd ('Legitimate Rape') Akin in Missouri 2012 and 
  5. Ken Buck in Colorado who lost to Senator Bennet. 
Opponents of Obamacare could have done a heckuva lot more with Republican Senate and House control to 'defund Obamacare' through the normal appropriation and budget reconciliation process than this self-defeating strategy today.

Guess how many GOP Senators are almost a lock to pick up Democratic seats in 2014?

That's right. 4. West Virginia, Alaska, Montana and South Dakota are virtually certain converts to the GOP, unless, of course, one of the nominees chooses to expound extemporaneously on the subject of rape. (Note to male candidates at any level: When asked about rape, the only answer you should give is this: 'Rape is a terrible offense against women and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Next question')

Should Senator Kay Hagan lose in NC, Republicans can pick up 5 seats in the US Senate and regain control of that body for 2015. Republicans could and should win in Arkansas and Louisiana for a total pickup of 7 in 2014.

Had the Republicans not run such self-destructive candidates in 2010 and 2012, they would be talking about ending or defunding Obamacare in 2015 with House control and 58 GOP Senators. That is darn near the 60 votes needed to get anything through the Senate. Anything.

If you are a Democrat reading this today, you have to be chortling at the disarray on the Republican side of things. For one thing, it means you are still in control of 2 out of the 3 levers of the legislative process: the US Senate and the White House.

For another, this current shutdown gives at least passing hope you can retake the House in 2014 and reinstall Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker with perhaps a 219-216 majority.

And finally, you have to be marveling at how the Republicans seem to be able to make it a curious habit of theirs to repeatedly 'snatch defeat from the jaws of victory' instead of working together to defeat the 'common enemy' which is you in the Democrat Party.

So, Republicans, Independents and conservatives in the audience, please tell us:
'Would you rather be peeing in the wind with all this BS now....or have 58 GOP Senators and House control where things can actually get done in the true constitutional way our Founders laid out for us?
It is a very simple calculus to us. Because we can count.. Unlike many it seems now in the Republican Party.

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