There are, regrettably, plenty of prominent media voices who insist on characterizing the Republicans’ debt-ceiling crisis as a disaster brought on by “both sides.” Yes, David Gergen, I’m looking in your direction.
But for all the complaining I do about this, it’s only fair to also note those who get it right, and resist the Village’s agreed upon narrative. Here’s Time’s Joe Klein yesterday, before last night’s breakdown in the House.
[S]o, here we are. Our nation’s economy and international reputation as the world’s presiding grownup has already been badly damaged. It is a self-inflicted wound of monumental stupidity. I am usually willing to acknowledge that Democrats can be as silly, and hidebound, as Republicans-but not this time. There is zero equivalence here. The vast majority of Democrats have been more than reasonable, more than willing to accept cuts in some of their most valued programs. […]
The Republicans have been willing to concede nothing. Their stand means higher interest rates, fewer jobs created and more destroyed, a general weakening of this country’s standing in the world. Osama bin Laden, if he were still alive, could not have come up with a more clever strategy for strangling our nation.
That last line was of particular interest, because it echoes a recent point from Nick Kristof. Indeed, the NYT columnist recently argued that Republicans represent a kind of domestic threat, possibly undermining the nation’s interests from within: “[L]et’s remember not only the national security risks posed by Iran and Al Qaeda. Let’s also focus on the risks, however unintentional, from domestic zealots.”
Are Klein and Kristof suggesting Republican extremism has become dangerous? It certainly sounds like it.
This is pretty bold stuff from media establishment figures. It also suggests the “both sides” nonsense hasn’t exactly achieved universal acceptance.
By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly, Political Animal, July 29, 2011
With no increases in individual tax rates and three dollars in cuts for every new dollar in revenue, could the House have swallowed it?
It’s a question that answers itself: If House leaders are having difficulty pressing through a standalone Republican bill, a “grand bargain” never had a snowball’s chance in the Sahara.
This had potent visceral appeal. It won over superstar pundits like Charles Krauthammer as well as rank midlevel propagandists such as Jennifer Rubin (“the left will be demoralized”), Pete Wehner (“Obama Will Be Biggest Loser”), and Marc Thiessen (“a modest victory for Republicans, but a major defeat for Obama”).
It almost worked—and it may yet.
But think of what might have been if commonsense prevailed over politics. What if these conservative commentators had spent this energy encouraging a compromise that would have benefited the White House, yes, but also would have gored the sacred cows of the left and yielded significant debt reduction as well as a relatively smaller government?
Instead, they’re left scrambling at the eleventh hour to isolate the “suicide bombers,” who now hold all the cards. They could have been isolated weeks ago.
It would’ve necessitated compromising with Democrats, to be sure. But we’re learning—the hard way—that this was always going to require compromise with Democrats.
By: Scott Galupo, U. S. News and World Report, July 29, 2011
The time has come in the debt-limit fight for all Americans to declare their loyalties: Are you with the bank robbers, or are you with the dirty old men?
This unpalatable choice is as good a way as any to frame the debate in these last days before the default deadline.
On one side are House Republican leaders who, facing a rebellion of Tea Party conservatives, appealed for party unity by screening for members a clip of the 2010 film “The Town,” in which Ben Affleck’s bank-robber character tells the Jeremy Renner character: “I need your help. I can’t tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later, and we’re gonna hurt some people.” Renner replies: “Whose car we takin’?” The clip ended before the shooting and beatings that followed.
On the other side are House Democratic leaders, who had to decide how to handle Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.), accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward a teenage girl (he claims it was consensual). Wu, who previously attracted attention by sending staff members photos of himself in a tiger costume, had no choice but to resign. But leaders accepted his plan to stay on the job for the debt standoff, thereby giving them one more vote against Speaker John Boehner’s debt plan.
It’s hard to decide which wins the craven crown: Exhorting colleagues by playing for them a call to criminal violence? Or trying to thwart the opposition by tolerating a 56-year-old colleague accused of forcing himself on a friend’s daughter?
Both are evidence of how desperate the warring parties are for any fleeting advantage in the fight. Someday, Democrats may rue wooing Wu to stay with them for the budget votes, and Republicans may do penance for embracing Hollywood violence. But this is not that day.
In the Democrats’ case, Wu’s grace period was a matter of arithmetic. Without him, Boehner would need 216 votes to pass his budget-cutting plan; with him, Boehner needs 217. And so Wu released a statement that he would “resign effective upon the resolution of the debt-ceiling crisis.”
That’s a delay Democrats are apparently comfortable with, even though this was not the first time this tiger has prowled: He was disciplined in college after a woman accused him of trying to force her to have sex, the Oregonian newspaper reported several years ago.
At a news conference Wednesday, I asked Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairman, whether she thought Wu should go sooner — and she demurred. “I think he made the right decision to resign,” she said.
The Republicans’ problem is more complicated. Though he has made few concessions, Boehner is facing a chorus of criticism from Tea Party activists who think he has not been belligerent enough. At a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday, the co-founders of the influential Tea Party Patriots network said a poll of their supporters found 82 percent of them dissatisfied with House leadership and 74 percent inclined to see Boehner replaced.
One of the co-founders, Mark Meckler, called Boehner’s proposed budget cuts “phantom” and “fake.” Later in the day, the leader of a smaller group called Tea Party Nation called for Boehner to be ousted. And staffers for conservative lawmakers rallied interest groups to fight against Boehner’s plan.
To resist such pressure, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) thought the proper tone would be Affleck’s crime thriller, packed with sex, drugs, violence and profanity, and described by USA Today as having “murky morality.”
The selection evidently had the desired effect. After the clip, in which the Renner character asks whose car they’ll drive, Rep. Allen West (Fla.), a Tea Party favorite, announced to his colleagues: “I’m ready to drive the car!”
Over the next 24 hours, conservatives’ resistance to Boehner’s plan ebbed, and Wednesday morning, Rep. Louie Gohmert (Tex.), one of the few remaining holdouts, emerged from a caucus meeting feeling the pain McCarthy promised. “I’m a beat-up ‘no,’ ” he reported.
Democrats pretended to be offended by the film selection. “They could have used ‘Hoosiers,’ ‘Rudy’ or ‘Band of Brothers,’ ” protested Wasserman Schultz (the person would-be getaway car driver West called “vile” and “not a lady”). “Now is not the time to be thinking about putting the political hurt to the other party or the president.”
But Republicans have a defense. That effort to “hurt people” in “The Town” was planned as revenge on men who had hassled a young woman.
David Wu might want to take that as a warning.