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However you slice and dice the history, the strategery, and the underlying issues, the decision to live with a government shutdown for an extended period of time — inflicting modest-but-real harm on the economy, needlessly disrupting the lives and paychecks of many thousands of hardworking people, and further tarnishing the Republican Party’s already not-exactly-shiny image — in pursuit of obviously, obviously unattainable goals was not a normal political blunder by a normally-functioning political party. It was an irresponsible, dysfunctional and deeply pointless act, carried out by a party that on the evidence of the last few weeks shouldn’t be trusted with the management of a banana stand, let alone the House of Representatives.
Sounds very partisan, no? It seems obvious that the author is a "leftist" attempting to pour salt in the wounds of the already-humiliated Republican Party, right?
Wrong. The author is Ross Douthat, conservative columnist with the NY Times, and a guy with whom yours truly rarely, if ever, agrees. Every week, in every one of his columns, Douthat preaches the modern-era conservative message as laid down by William Buckley decades ago in his infamous quote...."A conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling...'Stop.'" Ross Douthat does his part every week to be that conservative.
But even a dyed-in-the-wool Buckley conservative felt the need to dress down the "banana stand" congressional Republicans after their staggeringly irresponsible and ignorant stunt to inflict damage on our national economy over the last 2+ weeks.
Remember all the calls for Obama to "negotiate" with Republicans? Remember how I argued that when both sides of a question agree on the answer that there's really nothing to negotiate? If you are going to dinner with your spouse and you both agree on going to your favorite restaurant.....wouldn't it sound odd if the couple sat down to negotiate over what they already agreed to? So does Douthat...
There was no argument for the shutdown itself that a person unblindered by political fantasies should be obliged to respect, no plausible alternative world in which it could have led to any outcome besides self-inflicted political damage followed by legislative defeat, and no epitaph that should be written for its instigators’ planning and execution except: “These guys deserved to lose.”
Notice that Douthat used the F-word. "fantasies". And not just political fantasies, but political fantasies that no one should feel "obliged to respect." Doesn't Douthat sound a bit like The Reverend, only without the usual annoying snark?
Most assuredly, the political fantasists who Douthat scathingly reprimanded in his column, are, today, calling him a squishy "establishment Republican". One who still believes in majority rule, the will of the people, the democratic process and, most of all, compromise as essential to governance.
The GOP contingency in Congress which forced the government shutdown and risked national default tell us that those historic governing norms can no longer be relied upon.....because in the age of America's first black president....the risk to the country is too great. That is the thinking of revolutionaries, not proponents of democracy. Everything has become an emergency for the fantasists in the age of Obama....and during emergencies, 237 years of American governance history must be set aside in order to "take back the country."
It's too bad that the Very Serious People in media, like Douthat, have taken so long to recognize these revolutionaries as.....political revolutionary fantasists who shouldn't be trusted with the management of a banana stand. But the VSP's are Very Serious and I'm sure they had their reasons.....for 5 years running.
But now, in the wake of the fantasists most humiliating and ignorant stunt, Douthat looks at the political party he supports.....and trembles in fear....
....just turn on talk radio or browse RedState or look at Ted Cruz’s approval ratings with Tea Partiers and you’ll see how potent this mentality remains, how quickly it could resurface, and how easily Republican politics and American governance alike could be warped by it in the future.
All of that from a columnist who weekly defends, and advocates for, the William Buckley-conservative brand of the Republican Party.