Column: Republican collapse

Oct 18 2013, 04:08 IST
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SummaryFar-right elements of the House prefer to go down in a blaze of glory—or at least take the country down in one

Congress has finally worked out a deal to end the government shutdown and dodge default, but not before the Republican Party demonstrated to Americans just how conflicted and dangerous it is.

Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, this week described our current Congress as a greater danger to national security than Al-Qaeda, writing, “We don’t tend to talk about Congress as—at this stage—what it plainly is: the clearest and most present danger in the world to the national security of the United States.”

That is what the GOP-led House has brought us. Conservatives outside the chamber know defeat when they see it, and want to live to fight another day. But they beat their chests in vain as their laments fall on the deaf ears of the far-right political death squads.

On Tuesday, the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial pages blasted:

“This is the quality of thinking—or lack thereof—that has afflicted many GOP conservatives from the beginning of this budget showdown. They picked a goal they couldn’t achieve in trying to defund ObamaCare from one House of Congress, and then they picked a means they couldn’t sustain politically by pursuing a long government shutdown and threatening to blow through the debt limit.”

Senator John McCain said this week, “Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”

Senator Lindsey Graham put it more bluntly: “We really did go too far. We screwed up.”

But, far-right elements of the House cannot be reasoned with. They prefer to go down in a blaze of glory—or at least take the country down in one.

And arguably no one is more the face of this disaster than Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, labelled by one New York Republican representative, Peter King, as a “fraud” and “false prophet,” who helped orchestrate it.

The Houston Chronicle editorial board on Tuesday took the extraordinary step of trying to withdraw its endorsement of Cruz, an endorsement that no doubt helped get him elected. An editorial posted to the paper’s website began, “Does anyone else miss Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison?”, the senator Cruz replaced. It went on: “When we endorsed Ted Cruz in last November’s general election, we did so with many reservations and at least one specific recommendation—that he follow Hutchison’s example in his conduct as a senator. Obviously,

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