A typically excellent post today on The Politics Blog with Charlie Pierce at Esquire.com, describing the current dissolutive state of the Republican (anti-)party, and why Speaker Boehner has been put in the impossible situation he is in (after last night’s spectacular failure, which was doomed from the start).
There is no possible definition by which the Republicans can be considered an actual political party any more. They can be defined as a loose universe of inchoate hatreds, or a sprawling confederation of collected resentments, or an unwieldy conglomeration of self-negating orthodoxies, or an atonal choir of rabid complaint, or a cargo cult of quasi-religious politics and quasi-political religion, or simply the deafening abandoned YAWP of our bitter national Id. But they are not a political party because they have rendered themselves incapable of politics.
Need a minute? I do. Even if you don’t, can we just pause for a minute and bask in the warm, delicious glow of that most excellent and profound exercise of metaphor? As after eating a good steak, I am full, sated, and satisfied.
Last night, [Boehner] couldn’t get the votes to pass a truly horrid plutocrat’s wet dream. He couldn’t get the votes to gut Obamacare or Wall Street reform. He couldn’t get the votes to throw children off food stamps and he couldn’t get the votes to throw the elderly off meals-on-wheels. He couldn’t get the votes for a simple, vicious stunt. He couldn’t get the votes because he couldn’t budge enough Republicans to support a tax increase in the upper .01 percent of taxpayers. He couldn’t do it because he had nothing with which to threaten people who look on governing the country as though they are running an evening-drive talk-radio program in Bugtussle. He couldn’t do it because he is a Republican pretending to be a fanatic who went hat in hand to a bunch of fanatics pretending to be Republicans.
Read the post, and know the sad and stupefying state of affairs, and the state of the (anti-)party. And then read this, from Ezra Klein at The Washington Post last night:
The failure of Plan B proved something important: Boehner doesn’t have enough Republican support to pass any bill that increases taxes — even one meant to block a larger tax increase — without a significant number of Democrats. The House has now adjourned until after Christmas, but it’s clear now what Plan C is going to have to be: Boehner is going to need to accept the simple reality that if he’s to be a successful speaker, he’s going to need to begin passing legislation with Democratic votes.
A significant number of Boehner’s members clearly don’t trust his strategic instincts, they don’t feel personally bound to support him, they clearly disagree with his belief that tax rates must rise as part of a deal, and they, along with many other Republicans, must be humiliated after the shenanigans on the House floor this evening. Worse, they know that Boehner knows he’ll need Democratic support to get a budget deal done. That means “a cave,” at least from the perspective of the conservative bloc, is certain. That, too, will make a change of leadership appealing.
It’s pretty obvious that Pierce is right – in the statement I bolded above – about Boehner being more moderate, but finding himself in the difficult position of being leader to a party of “fanatics.” And if Klein is right, and he’s going to need to actually start courting Democratic votes, then I don’t know what happens next.
The battle is joined by Andrew Sullivan, with a magnificent and uncompromising tirade condemning the GOP’s despicable existence. It is as contemptuous as it is accurate, as prescient as it is satisfying.
[T]he current constitutional and economic vandalism removes any shred of doubt that this party and its lucrative media bubble is in any way conservative. They aren’t. They’re ideological zealots, indifferent to the consequences of their actions, contemptuous of the very to-and-fro essential for the American system to work, gerry-mandering to thwart the popular will, filibustering in a way that all but wrecks the core mechanics of American democracy, and now willing to acquiesce to the biggest tax increase imaginable because they cannot even accept Obama’s compromise from his clear campaign promise to raise rates for those earning over $250,000 to $400,000 a year.
Enough. This faction and its unhinged fanaticism has no place in any advanced democracy. They must be broken. But the current irony is that no one has managed to expose their extremism more clearly than their own Speaker. His career is over. As is the current Republican party. We need a new governing coalition in the House – Democrats and those few sane Republicans willing to put country before ideology. But even that may be impossible.