Post-shutdown: Time for recriminations

October 18, 2013


It’s a familiar ritual in Washington every time a party loses a battle or a candidate loses an election. Only this time, it could lead to something more serious: A split in the Republican Party.

The most severe recriminations are aimed at the Tea Party. Why did they take on a fight they were certain to lose? And without any endgame or exit strategy? Don’t they understand how politics works?

Here’s the answer: No.

Or rather, they do understand how politics works — and they reject it. The United States has a Constitution that divides power. The only way anything gets done is through deal-making and compromise. It’s been that way for 225 years. (See the movie Lincoln for a good example).

The Tea Party doesn’t play by those rules. To them, compromise means selling out. They won’t make deals. It’s got to be either victory or defeat. In this case, it was defeat.

But it was a glorious defeat, and they are proud of it. It was their Alamo. “We’re going to start this all over again,” Representative John Fleming (R-La.) told the New York Times.  Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said to the Washington Post, “We are waiting around for another battle over Obamacare.” After all, six weeks after the Alamo disaster, the Texas army routed the Mexicans at the Battle of San Jacinto. Their battle cry: “Remember the Alamo.”

Soon we will start hearing “Remember the Shutdown!”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who commanded the disaster, remains defiant. He offers his own recriminations. “Once again, the Washington establishment is refusing to listen to the American people,” Cruz said as the fight was being lost. He claimed, “the American people rose up and spoke with an overwhelming voice.”

But the one who wasn’t listening was Cruz. He thought the people were saying, “Kill Obamacare.” What they were saying was, “Stop holding the country hostage!”

The Republican establishment is thoroughly exasperated with the Tea Party. Republican leaders in Congress and party supporters in the business community are outraged over the fact that their party is being taken over by “wackos.” “There’s got to be some pushback on those guys who think they came here with all the solutions,” former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott told the Washington Post.

But is the establishment ready to fight?

Maybe. Both sides are girding for battle.

The Tea Party is fed up with the Republican congressional leaders who brokered the surrender. It is encouraging primary challengers to run against Republican incumbents next year. “Rest well tonight, for soon we must focus on important House and Senate races,” Sarah Palin advised her Facebook followers. “Let’s start with Kentucky.”

Kentucky happens to be the state where Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is running for re-election next year. McConnell played a key role in negotiating the deal to end the shutdown. And he has said there is not going to be another.

Will the Republican establishment stand up and fight? It’s kind of hard to think of the country club wing of the party getting down and dirty. But business leaders were horrified over the fact that Tea Party insurgents were perfectly willing to allow a debt default in order to get their way. And they are troubled by conservatives’ resistance to immigration reform.

“The problem is, these guys want someone else to do it,” former Representative Vin Weber told the Washington Post. “They don’t want to get involved in primaries.”

But they’re doing it. Or at least, giving money to mainstream contenders who are ready to take on the Tea Party in House races in Alabama, Michigan and Idaho. They are also funding opposition research to discredit Republican candidates whose views are too far outside the mainstream.

Establishment Republicans want their party back. A bipartisan group of 14 centrist senators is trying to work out a compromise budget deal. Are there any centrist Republicans left in the Senate? Yes, a few — Senators John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Susan Collins (Maine). Maybe Republicans will listen to them now that they have seen the havoc the far right has wrought.

The showdown will likely come in 2016 — when the party has to nominate a presidential candidate. If it looks like Republicans are going to nominate Cruz or Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) or another Tea Party type, mainstream Republicans are likely to bolt. It is hard to imagine a warrior like McCain supporting an isolationist like Paul for president.

That’s exactly why the Wall Street-wing of the GOP is pressuring the party to curb the influence of Iowa in the nominating process. Iowa is a caucus state, easily dominated by the religious right and the Tea Party. Case in point: Rick Santorum won the 2012 Iowa caucuses.

We will get an important clue from the New Jersey and Virginia elections for governor next month. It looks like Republican Governor Chris Christie will easily get re-elected in New Jersey,  while Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will lose in Virginia. That result would send a message: a mainstream Republican like Christie can get elected in a blue state, but a Tea Party favorite like Cuccinelli can’t win a moderate Southern state.

Case closed? Not quite. Because the Tea Party can make a counterargument. In 2008 and 2012, they went along with the establishment and supported McCain and Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee for president. Neither man was ever seen as a real conservative by the Tea Party. But conservatives went along with their nominations because the establishment said they were the only Republicans who could win.

But they didn’t.


PHOTO (Top): Reporters gather around Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who announces he will not filibuster, as he talks to reporters after a Republican Senate caucus meeting at the Capitol in Washington, October 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

PHOTO (Insert): Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) holds a news conference with fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 9, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron




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“The Tea Party Show” is over. They may have some small town, ultra-right wing voters left, but when big money donors realize they have lost all momentum, those same donors will back candidates who can win. Then it will be over, and a bad chapter in U.S. history books.

Posted by JL4 | Report as abusive

Sorry to spoil your happy thoughts but we live in a plutocracy and money rules. In Texas, as most places the Golden Rules applies:

Them who gots the gold, Rules.

Posted by greenjim | Report as abusive

The Tea Party has the same fatal flaws as the Republican party. It embraces the religious nuts unaware or in denial of evolution, home schooling, and denies women the reproductive choices the Supreme Court gave all in Roe v. Wade.

But they are absolutely right in refusal to roll out the welcome wagon for some twenty million illegal alien squatters that have swarmed America since the 1980’s Amnesty that was supposed to end that nonsense. These people are, by and large, uneducated, unskilled gypsies unable or unwilling to raise the lands of their birth from the bubbling cesspool of poverty. They turn to America to take what we will allow.

Their fertility would make a rabbit blush. They will overwhelm America’s dysfunctional educational system (which has already lowered standards to improve “pass rates”). They don’t want to assimilate into “maiknstream America”…instead they march for nonexistent “rights” and demand America provide bilingual EVERYTHING; free to them, horrendously expensive for the rest of us. This is simply not as it should be.

Already our seniors are being told there is not “enough” to maintain a fair inflation adjustment to protect the purchasing power of Social Security checks. As we speak the patient load is being increased by some thirty percent on available doctors. The inevitable result is that “we, the people” can’t get in to see our physician soon after we get sick. The best we can hope for is that they will call in a prescription for us to pick up.

Doctor’s office waiting rooms are rapidly becoming like day care centers. The well there for check-ups must somehow avoid infection in a hive of germs including third world diseases long eradicated here on tables, chairs, desks and magazines. Emergency rooms have long been this way, and some have closed because of the number of people that can’t or won’t pay for services rendered. This isn’t “progress”, people.

The Tea Party is also the sole voice of reason that has refused to be silenced as to America’s ongoing congressional idiocy in excess spending. To this day Congress can not explain just what was purchased with the dollars they stole, leaving just IOUs, from the Social Security Trust Fund, and as a result the program no longer is considered “self-funding” but an “entitlement “on the block” for reduction with later unfunded “giveaways”.

The notion that you don’t spend what you don’t have is long dead and America increases it’s own credit card, the “debt limit” routinely knowing that “If they spend it, we, the people, must pay”. To any who try to say NO! they say “you can’t object to paying your bill for money already spent”. Please. STOP THE EXCESS SPENDING!

“We, the people” have been abandoned by our so-called “responsible leaders” who openly pander to these johnny-come-latelys for their future votes even as they sell the influence we give them to the highest bidder in contributions for their re-election. This country CAN NOT continue “business as usual” in Washington and remain dynamic economically and solvent fiscally into future decades.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

True that OneofTheSheep.

Posted by 2Borknot2B | Report as abusive

I consider myself “right-wing”; but not an extremist. I live in the South; we own guns and we are Christian. We are not radicals.
I personally oppose abortion, but the Supreme Court says you can have one if you want; so who am I to stop you? You have to live with that decision. I am a Christian, but I don’t expect you to believe the same as me.
That’s the beauty of this country…..FREEDOM…..we each have the right to believe what we want. The problem comes in when others try to forcibly PUSH their agenda on me or you.
As for the “shutdown” and who was to blame; ALL OF THEM are to blame and I think it starts with the PRESIDENT. The PRESIDENT is supposed to be a LEADER. The PRESIDENT is supposed to bring the parties together to talk. The PRESIDENT can’t just sit back and do nothing and then when it’s all over blame the “tea party radicals”.
These “tea party radicals” are for the most part people just like me, middle class, working people who just want the government to STOP THE CRAZINESS of SPENDING MONEY that we don’t have. We want Congress to start putting the AMERICAN people FIRST instead of “illegals” who are in this country ILLEGALLY. Close the borders. We are the only country in the world whose borders are wide open.
Final word: To continue to refer to average Americans like me as “right-wing extremists” “tea party terrorists”, etc. does not advance the cause of bringing this country back to its greatness. It only causes more division.

Posted by OilfieldSpouse | Report as abusive

It is obvious the issue is revenue and not debt.

The sequestration and near default has highlighted this.

Since the Eisenhower administration we have had many tax reductions in the name of job creation.

These jobs have never been realized while we damaged our tax base.

We have also had many unfunded wars.

Had we maintained our tax base and funded our wars we would not be having this debate.

Americans have had enough tea with these Mad Hatters.

Posted by Flash1022 | Report as abusive

Public debt data from the CIA World Factbook:

In First Place, fighting a decades-long battle with deflation, Japan (currently at an annual inflation rate of -0.3%, according to WSJ/Heritage Foundation data), with a public debt = 214.30% of GDP (2012 estimate);

In last place, suffering an annual inflation rate of 8.5% (WSJ/Heritage Foundation data), Liberia, with a public debt = 2.60% of GDP (2012 estimate).

Which country would you rather visit without the company of the USMC?

Posted by MoBioph | Report as abusive

Oilfieldspouse: What a crock. There is no freedom, and neither your old man GOP or the Teabaggers has any intention of allowing freedom.

As for spending money. How have the GOP paid for the wars?

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

“A new CNN/ORC poll finds that 54% of Americans say it’s a bad thing that the Republican party controls the House of Representatives, up 11 points from last December, soon after the 2012 elections when the Republicans kept control of the chamber. Only 38% say it’s a good thing the GOP controls the House, a 13-point dive from the end of last year.”

Posted by Leftcoastrocky | Report as abusive


You and I don’t agree on a woman’s right to choose, and yet from you I don’t hear the “take no prisoners-absolutely no compromise” nonsense. Push come to shove, the only “absolute” is absolute stupidity, which seems to have infected what passes for our government.

Obviously you “walk the walk” and believe in the “rule of law” and the necessity of reasonable compromise (which is NOT surrender). So do I.

Well said!

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

What many of you fail to acknowledge is that House members are elected locally. They reflect the platform of the local electorate . Those tea party Republicans fulfilled their commitment to their constituents–period, like it or not!

Liberals have a very short memory, as the POTUS openly refused to negotiate, and the Senate Majority leader who would not bring any House sponsored resolution to the floor for a vote. Yep, and the Dems refused (again) a bill that would require them to give up their current health insurance and enroll under Obamacare. There’s Democrat “compromise” for you.

While the author may chastise the Republicans and Tea Partiers, he is remiss in not chastising the Democrats who refused to “compromise”. The House is an equal 1/3 of the government which liberals wish to ignore because it does not fit their agenda.

The facts don’t support the perception that is was only the Tea Party Republicans that refused to negotiate. But the media has been in the Dems bag since 2000–conservatives can live with that reality.

Those who embrace the liberal theology (especially when demonizing OilFieldSpouse) fail to embrace the individual liberty she espouses. Each of you is effectively demanding that your liberal way is the only way — exactly what you criticize the Tea Partiers of doing. See the passage of ACA in 2009 without a single Republican vote (where’s the compromise you all demand?)

Every time a liberal demands a “right” for some special group, or “compromise” (using you terminology) on my part, my personal liberties are further diminished. That is, except when it comes to paying taxes, then liberals like to speak about my personal “obligation”.

Posted by COindependent | Report as abusive

Remember that one time when George Washington said, “I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.” – Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796. You can boil down what our first president says about parties in his farewell address to this: political parties will destroy us…

Posted by ChadsNHiggins | Report as abusive