Thursday, October 10, 2013
Tea Party Is Dead! And Fight Ends Over Shutdown and Debt Ceiling!
Ding! Dong! The Wicked Tea Party is dead! And so is defaulting on the debt! And the government is going to reopen! Thanksgiving has come early this year!
It's not the headline in the media yet but the economic crisis is over. Beginning October 6 this blog has described the steps by which the GOP was signaling it was giving in. Obama and the nation and democracy have now won. (And - shh! it's a secret - so has John Boehner!) As of yesterday the GOP gave up on extortion and agreed to raise the debt ceiling. There's some foot-dragging on reopening the government but it too will happen soon. And there's not a whisper any more of defunding Obamacare. All along this blog has been ahead of the media in analyzing what's going on, showing that this is where we were headed.
How do we know the GOP has now completed its cave- in? Rep. Paul Ryan took over Speaker Boehner's place on stage and proposed in the Wall Street Journal that the House now raise the debt ceiling for six weeks so that the Democrats and Republicans can have time to talk about budget issues. The GOP House leadership has announced it embraces the proposal.
That's part of what Obama has insisted on all along. He's still firm: no negotiating until there's an end to both the government being shut down and to the threat of debt default. He has successfully called the House GOP bluff on the more scary aspect of their extortion, i.e. threat of debt default. And of course they've already shot their wad of threatening to shut down the government, for which yesterday's polls say the majority of the public blames the GOP while a whopping 72% disapprove of their tactics. There'll be a bit of this and that still to come, particularly as regards the shutdown, but it's just a clean-up battle in a war that has ended. It's the fighting in Tennessee after Appomattox.
The result of all this is that our principle of democracy survives, i.e. majority rule, and our economy and the world's economy also survive. That ain't small potatoes. But there's yet another big payoff.
This equally important result is that we can kiss the Tea Party goodbye as a genuine threat in American politics and thus a threat to the whole world. At the height of their power and with their most frightening weapons in hand, the Tea Partyers in the House made their big play and didn't achieve their signature goal of destroying Obamacare. Instead Obama has used their intransigence to destroy them. And oddly enough - yea, with great mastery - so has Boehner. Two men in powerful positions and from the two opposing parties have not only taken the Tea Party bad boys to the woodshed. They have finished them off, with a lot of suicidal help from the Tea Partyers themselves.
So how was this done?
Here Beginneth the Obituary of the Tea Party
The Tea Party Republicans in the House made four fatal mistakes.
First, they grossly underestimated President Obama. They really thought he would give up the most fundamental principle of a democracy: governance by the majority. Thus their demand for ending the Affordable Health Care Act.
By any measure the Tea Party supporters had every opportunity to oppose the Act during its passage. They were even allowed to bring guns to public meetings! They even went as far as spitting on House members who were entering the Capitol to vote. They also had two elections in which to change the makeup of the majority of Congress, and in 2010 they took over the House but not the Senate. But even if they had taken both houses, they would not have had sufficient margin to override Obama's veto of any bill ending Obamacare. And in 2012 people reaffirmed him as president and thereby reaffirmed Obamacare.
Further, a majority of all the people have explicitly told pollsters that they don't want Obamacare repealed. The Tea Party therefore does not represent a majority of the people on this issue. The Tea Partyers can't get this through their heads, but President Obama never forgets it. And as a constitutional law professor he is certainly not going to give in to the Tea Party nor establish a precedent that would end our democracy. He is not going to open the door for future splinter groups to hold the country hostage.
The Tea Party people have not just underestimated Obama. They have put the lie to their own hate-filled characterization of him as being weak. This "weak" label has been part of the racist GOP effort to paint him as an incompetent and dithering black man unfit to be president. As of now, however, the Tea Party intransigence has actually elevated him, showing him to be neither weak nor incompetent. They gave him the opportunity to be everything they said he wasn't.
LESSON ONE: Don't ever underestimate Obama. Just ask Hilary, whom he beat for the nomination. And Bin Laden. And Assad and Putin.
The second huge mistake the Tea Party made was picking a fight they could not win. Sometimes one has to fight an uphill battle just for the sake of moral principle. This was not one of those times. Whatever they didn't like about Obamacare they could have worked to fix by amendment, letting time prove them right. But they have never wanted it to work. They want no more programs to help people. They even want to end existing government help. It contravenes their Ayn Rand principle of "only the strong survive" and it makes Democrats popular. A fight to end government help for our American people is a fight the Tea Party cannot win. The New Deal is now 70 years old. It ain't going away. Nor is Medical nor Medicaid. These programs and Social Security are now fundamentals of American life. Obamacare will be too. And, babe, that's just how it is. Thank heaven!
Thus LESSON TWO is: Stay in touch with reality.
Their third mistake was a whopper. In their hubris of over-reaching they turned off their own most powerful buddies and may be deserted money-wise. What do I mean, you ask? THEY'VE LOST THE KOCH BROTHERS!
And they have done an even worse bad. Other of their wealthy and powerful allies are now their avowed enemies, threatening to finance conservative non-crazy candidates in next year's GOP primaries so as to unseat the present Tea Party House members. Did you get that?
But this third mistake is such a big deal, it has to wait for the next posting.
So does gloating over their fourth mistake: They didn't realize that Speaker John Boehmer was leading them on to their own destruction.
Meantime, smile! In fact, smile a lot! Let the bells ring out! This is truly a great day. We have been reprieved not just from a financial crisis but a constitutional crisis and a splinter party veering into nazism. Obama has saved the day, bless him. And the bells that ring for our reprieve are simultaneuosly ringing the death knell of the Tea Party.
They've gone where the goblins go. Below, below. So set 'em up, Joe. Wait! That's not how the song goes .... Oh, what the hey, set 'em up anyway, Joe. And have one yourself.
The drinks are on me!