Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Blame The GOP Moderates

Here we are. One day before the United States of America risks defaulting. As Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell work on a package to postpone the budget crisis beyond the holidays, there is a tendency for many to blame both sides. To call all sides losers, as the Wall Street Journal did this morning, when the reality is that there are clear winners: President Obama and the Democrat Party.

But the Wall Street Journal is part of the reason the Republican Party has become unelectable at the national level. Yes, I know that many Republicans find comfort in Chris Christie's sky high approval ratings in very blue New Jersey. But the Christie phenomenon is a product of local circumstances (read that as Jon Corzine was a horrible governor). Moreover, the reason Christie is so popular is due to his distancing himself from the national GOP. To say that the Republican Party is just fine and only needs a couple of tweaks because Christie is coasting to an easy re-election is about as delusional as thinking that Obamacare could be defunded by shutting the government down.

The conventional wisdom among political analysts is to blame the Tea Party Republicans for the current state of the national GOP. But neither the Tea Party wing, nor the Wall Street Journal wing, offer a viable path forward for the Republican Party. As much as the Tea Party drive to reject modernity and take the country back to a mythical time is wrongheaded, the Wall Street Journal's "tax cuts and less regulations" is the answer to every problem is equally wrongheaded.

Perhaps, a new wing will emerge that will have the intellectual firepower to create a new winning coalition for the GOP instead of constantly trying to reassemble the old Reagan three legged stool. In the meantime, the civil war between Republican factions will continue. The Wall Street Journal, moderate wing will continue to blame the Tea Party and vice versa.

It is true that the failed strategy of trying to defund Obamacare, and essentially nullify the 2012 election, originated from the Tea Party wing. However, the Tea Party Caucus and the Cruz-Lee Senate Duo would not have been able to drive the party into the ditch had not the moderates given them the car keys and jumped in for the ride.

So whom is worse? The true believers that are seriously misguided or those who knew better but said or did nothing to stop the madness? I say the latter. Had moderate Republicans stood their ground; had John Boehner decided to lead instead of trying to replace James Buchanan as the most pathetic politician in American history; we would have been spared the damaging spectacle of the last two weeks.

Saying that a strategy is doomed to fail and then indulging it is the ultimate act of irresponsibility. I will even grant that forcing red state Senate Democrats up for re-election to take a tough vote made strategic sense. But once Pryor, Landrieu, Hagan and Begich were on record as supporting Obamacare, that should have been the end. Instead, Boehner and the GOP moderates continued to indulge the Tea Party by passing several bills that everyone knew were DOA in the Senate.

Moderate Republicans indulging failed policies and strategies is nothing new. For decades, they  have allowed their base to believe that there is a real chance of overturning Roe v. Wade. That self-deportation is a plausible solution to the illegal immigration problem. That somehow we can roll back the last five decades of cultural and demographic trends and return to the days of "Leave It To Beaver" when housewives wore pearls while scrubbing the kitchen. As long as the base was willing to back tax cuts and less regulations, all was well as far as the Wall Street Journal and Republican moderates were concerned.

A deal has been announced and it looks like the latest manufactured DC crisis is over. At least for a few weeks. Ted Cruz is standing down and Boehner will allow the House to vote on the Senate bill. Something that he should have done two weeks ago and spared the country the extra cost and disruption caused by the partial shutdown. Not to mention, the damage that has been done to our image around the world.

As the political pundits proceed to declare winners and losers, let's not forget who could have prevented this debacle in the first place: Boehner and the Republican moderates.