I missed this one yesterday amid all the stoopla, but Andrew Sullivan (of all people) had one of the definitive pieces yesterday on what Twitter (and everyone else except GOP legislators in DC) is calling the GOP Shutdown. His piece leads with the full-page headline of the NY Daily News from yesterday (“House of Turds”), but there was much more underneath:
How does one party that has lost two presidential elections and a Supreme Court case – as well as two Senate elections – think it has the right to shut down the entire government and destroy the full faith and credit of the United States Treasury to get its way on universal healthcare now? I see no quid pro quo even. Just pure blackmail, resting on understandable and predictable public concern whenever a major reform is enacted.
Sullivan then points out what even a few of my usually more-levelheaded conservative friends on Twitter seem to either not see, or are willfully denying: that “this is government or politics as usual. It is an attack on the governance and the constitutional order of the United States.” Sullivan correctly observes that it is:
…a deliberate attempt to ensure that the American system of government as we have known it cannot work. It cannot, must not work, in the mindset of these radicals, because they simply do not accept the legitimacy of a President and Congress of the opposing party. The GOP does not regard the president as merely wrong – but as illegitimate. Not misguided – illegitimate. This is not about ending Obamacare as such (although that is a preliminary scalp); it is about nullifying this presidency, the way the GOP attempted to nullify the last Democratic presidency by impeachment.
Exactly. And when faced with that sort of arson being done intentionally to the system all of us claim to hold dear (and most of us, inside AND outside the GOP DO hold dear), what is the correct response? Sullivan, uncharacteristically, doesn’t hedge here, either:
The president must therefore hold absolutely firm. This time, there can be no compromise because the GOP isn’t offering any. They’re offering the kind of constitutional surrender that would effectively end any routine operation of the American government. If we cave to their madness, we may unravel our system of government, something one might have thought conservatives would have opposed. Except these people are not conservatives. They’re vandals.
This time, the elephant must go down. And if possible, it must be so wounded it does not get up for a long time to come.
Again, exactly. If Charles Pierce yesterday feared that “the country would have to make a nuanced judgment over who is to blame that, I believe, will be discouraged by the courtier press of the Beltway,” this column by Sullivan can only be an encouraging sign.
To be fair, even though Andrew Sullivan is very well-known and widely-read, he is still considered in most circles to be something of an outsider or iconoclast. He’s not a member of the traditional bedrock-beltway press whose opinion is so critical to framing things of this nature, the sort of press Pierce feared would do their usual lazy “both-sides-do-it” soft-shoe. For that, we have to turn to the most insider-y of all the beltway media, the Washington Post.
During the Fred Hiatt years, the Post has strayed far from its Woodward/Bernstein days, and become a mouthpiece for many conservative or “Third Way” ideas like cutting Social Security, etc. They’ve also become exactly the sort of reliable voice for “both-sides-do-it,” false-equivalency journalism that Pierce was afraid of. So what were the Post’s editorial pages looking like yesterday? This:
AMERICANS’ RESPECT for their Congress has, sad to say, diminished in recent years. But citizens still expect a minimal level of competence and responsibility: Pay the bills and try not to embarrass us in front of the world.
By those minimal standards, this Congress is failing. More specifically, the Republican leaders of the House of Representatives are failing. They should fulfill their basic duties to the American people or make way for legislators who will.
We don’t come to that view as rabid partisans.
Ouch. That can’t have been well-received in Majority Leader Cantor’s or Speaker Boehner’s offices (to say nothing of the teahadists who’re the real power behind this harmful farce). Maybe – just maybe, as I said yesterday – Pierce will be wrong in his world-weary and very experienced prediction, and my hope (that the country will finally start to unanimously reject Republican extremism) – will actually come to pass. Keep your fingers crossed. I’ll end with the same call to duty the Post used in their last paragraph:
Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Budget Committee chairman and former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and their colleagues may be in a difficult political position. Honestly, we don’t much care. They need to reopen the government and let it pay its bills.