Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Monday, September 28th, 2015.


Nobody Knows Anything

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conservatism, Republican Party

Whatever is going on in U.S. politics has gone completely out of bounds of all the known knowns and unknown knowns and known unknowns and whatever other combination of confusion one could put together. We’re all in uncharted territory here.

Ezra Klein writes that the parties appear to have completely lost control of the nomination process. Many of you, like me, are old enough to remember when the nominee was chosen in backroom deals at party conventions. Now Citizens United and new media technology has made parties close to irrelevant to who walks away with the prize.

Regarding Republicans: Although most of the beltway media tribe are as oblivious as ever, Frank Bruni (seriously?) is beginning to notice something is out of whack.

[Republicans] have become the party of brinkmanship, the party of imminent credit defaults, the party of threatened shutdowns, the party that won’t pass a proper transportation bill, the party that is suddenly demonizing the Export-Import Bank, the party of “no,” the party of ire, the party that casts even someone as unquestionably conservative as John Boehner in the role of apostate, simply because he knows the difference between fights that can be won and those that can’t, between standing on principle and shooting yourself in the foot.

Let it not be forgot that Bruni has been a leader of the both-sides-are-just-as-bad tribe for some time.

Conventional wisdom says that John Boehner’s resignation puts an end to any shutdown over Planned Parenthood, because the Crazy Caucus won’t be able to threaten him with a coup any more. However, conventional wisdom also says that What Comes Next will be worse for President Obama and Mitch McConnell.  But Josh Marshall disagrees.

This is a basic misunderstanding of the dynamics of the situation, actually a fundamental one – based again on the assumption that the only thing standing in the way of the House “Freedom Caucus” and right wing glory is that they haven’t shut the government down enough, or haven’t voted to repeal Obamacare enough. Was John Boehner really running interference for President Obama, shielding him from the ferocious fury of the right wing of the House caucus or was he frequently bending over backwards to find ways to avoid House nutballs from inflicting even more damage on the party’s national standing?

The latest brouhaha was about whether or not to shut the government down over defunding Planned Parenthood. Note today’s Quinnipiac Poll which shows that Americans oppose shutting down the government over defunding Planned Parenthood by a 69% to 23% margin. Even Republicans oppose it by a 56% to 36% margin. The opposition to this is broad based and overwhelming. It has all the kinetics and logic of driving 100 miles an hour into a reinforced cement wall.

Gerrymandering pretty much guarantees the GOP will hang on to the House at least until 2020, Josh M. continues. So they think they’re invincible. But if the hard Right in the House is allowed to charge ahead in all of its irrational glory and cause one crisis after another to force its will, this is unlikely to particularly hurt President Obama, or Democrats.

Whether it would hurt Republicans remains to be seen; the pattern we’ve seen over the past several years is that when one layer of crazy comes apart, an even crazier layer is revealed. Apparently the “fix” for the failures of extremist conservatism is even more radical extremist conservatism.

The question in my mind is, how far is this going to go? Nothing continues forever. The trajectory will fail, eventually. I’m sure I’ve mentioned the Taoist view that all things carry the seeds of their own destruction. The question is, how long? And, when the collapse comes, will our political institutions be strong enough to adjust? Or have extremism and corruption made them too vulnerable to stand?

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