I dislike the smarminess and faux-humility of New York Times columnist David Brooks. His weekly appearances on the PBS Newshour are always flavored with deceptive conservative seasoning. His Dr. Phil wannabe psycho-babble approach in defense of indefensible conservative dogma is as predictable as it is unconvincing.
This week seems like kind of a slow week in our political wasteland....which allows for a head-fake column by Brooks to take center stage in setting off yet another dead end discussion in the blogosphere about the hapless and hopeless Republican Party.
Brooks writes a mournful column. And that is not by accident. Brooks has taken in what is clearly meant to be kabuki theater by the Republicans in Congress over raising the debt ceiling...and Brooks has declared that kabuki to be abnormal.
The Times columnist looks at what the Democrats have agreed to, so far, in the alleged deficit reduction talks being headed up by VP Joe Biden....a couple trillion dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a teacup full of tax loophole closings....and mournfully warns...
But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.
Briefly...Brooks argument is that the "no sense of decency" Tea Party officials are going to f*ck everything up by continuing to demand the impossible from Obama and the Democrats in the ongoing deficit reduction negotiations. Brooks and the Tea Party have the exact same objectives in this fight, mind you.....damage the economy just enough through deep government spending cuts to oust Obama from the White House next November.
What Brooks whines about is his Tea-drinking brethren's unwillingness to accept victory when Democrats are eagerly handing it to them. When a Democratic White House and a Democratic Senate is willing to bow down before the sacred GOP god of supply side voodooism.....Brooks moans.....it is simply ridiculous for the Tea Party to not embrace the obvious win. The refusal of the Teapublicans to embrace the Democratic surrender leads the elitist Brooks to apocalyptic warnings for the GOP...
The struggles of the next few weeks are about what sort of party the G.O.P. is — a normal conservative party or an odd protest movement that has separated itself from normal governance, the normal rules of evidence and the ancient habits of our nation.
That sentence is yet more evidence that David Brooks has earned his "Bobo" nickname honestly. The GOP has not been a "normal conservative party" for quite some time. Whether it has been magical supply side religious economic cultism which takes us to the edge of ruin....or the national embarrassment that was the GOP's "small government" role in the Terri Schaivo saga....or whether it's the sideshow of impeaching a Democratic president for the national threat of fibbing about cheating on his wife......the GOP has long ago decided "what sort of party" it is. And "normal" doesn't apply....unless, of course, behaving insanely is the new "normal." The GOP has been an "odd protest movement" for twenty years.
But here is what Bobo is really afraid of....
If the debt ceiling talks fail, independent voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern.
Republicans don't do governing. To Republicans, government is the problem. That is, elected officials who actually govern, are, and have been, causing our nation's problems. What being "fit to govern" means to today's Republicans is an excited willingness to dismantle and destroy government...in all it's forms. That's why the word "compromise" no longer (if it ever did) plays a role in Republican thinking. To compromise would be to accept that government has a legitimate role to play in making our nation better....which, outside of starting new wars and looting the Treasury....it clearly doesn't....not to Republicans.
Republicans have refused to compromise for the last 2+ years....hell, Republicans won't even vote for Republican ideas anymore if Democrats are in favor of them. That's how goddamn "responsible" Republicans have been.
But here is where Bobo throws wildly. With President Obama, Republicans have been taught that there is no such thing as being too fanatical, too uncompromising. In fact, if anything....the Tea Party elected officials have learned that the more insane the demands are..the better.
Case in point is the 6 month old Grand Compromise. Republicans threatened all Americans with a tax increase if the top .1% of our population's richest didn't get to keep their tax cuts too. Those GOP'ers stood firm....wouldn't budge. What happened? Not only did Obama give "responsible" Republicans those tax cut extensions for the rich....but he also threw in the kicker of lower estate tax rates as well....something Republicans weren't even demanding. With a history like that, it would be foolish for Republicans not to continue to act fanatical. Fanatical works. Why would you not do something which has proven to be successful?
As it stands today, Democrats have conceded a 4-1, spending cuts-to-revenue increases ratio, in the deficit reduction talks. That means that Democrats are willing to vote with Republicans in favor of a double dip in the recession.....because that's what Republicans are demanding or they'll crash U.S. credit. But the fanatics whom David Brooks are embarrassed over for not acting "responsible" will almost certainly demand that all revenue increases are dropped before their caucus members will be given a green light to vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling.
Then, David Brooks will write a column praising the uniquely tough and resilient nature of the stick-to-their-guns, fight-to-the-death, fanatical conservatives. He'll probably entitle it....Fanatically Responsible.
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