Nothing You Need To Worry About

The only confusion that comes out is that Cruz stood on the side and confused people about the fact that every Republican agrees. He said if you don’t agree with my tactic and with the specific structure of my idea, you’re bad. He said if the House would simply pass the bill with defunding he would force the Senate to act. He would lead this grass-roots movement that would get Democrats to change their mind. So the House passed it, it went to the Senate, and Ted Cruz said, oh, we don’t have the votes over here. And I can’t find the e-mails or ads targeting Democrats to support it. Cruz said he would deliver the votes and he didn’t deliver any Democratic votes. He pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away.

Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist sees all.

It’s just one of those things that seems to happen with each passing cycle of history, which is itself a very convenient thing to say since the cycles themselves are undefined, and known only by wit and aphorism; destined to repeat, accelerating cycles, the dialectic of neurosis, &c. Wit is often nothing more than a fool’s artful wisdom. Thus, it’s just one of those things ….

At any rate, when Grover Norquist comes out sounding like a reasonable conservative? There comes a point where we overlook the usual partisan barbs because it is the best we can get and one does not look a gift fish in the sphincter. But these are interesting times, there is no denying, and if Robert Costa can turn up on MSNBC talking to Alex Wagner and sounding perfectly reasonable like the conservatives we once knew and simply disagreed with, or something like that—he’s on Maddow’s show this evening. And who was it she talked to last night? Oh, yes. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA02), who did, in fact, make a couple of lame attempts to cover the party line, but, really, if we let those slide as Maddow did, it really was a pretty good interview that touched on some actually important questions. And now here comes Ezra Klein, chatting pleasantly with Grover Norquist:

No, the leverage isn’t the debt ceiling. It’s not the CR. It’s the sequester. Democrats think this is desperate privation. It’s like the Kennedy kids with only one six-pack. They feel they’ve never been so mistreated. So there’s something they want. And there’s something Republicans want. So you could see a deal there. And the leverage was the sequester. That’s what struck me as what leadership was thinking about, and it made a great deal of sense.

No, the leverage isn’t the debt ceiling. It’s not the CR. It’s the sequester. Democrats think this is desperate privation. It’s like the Kennedy kids with only one six-pack. They feel they’ve never been so mistreated. So there’s something they want. And there’s something Republicans want. So you could see a deal there. And the leverage was the sequester. That’s what struck me as what leadership was thinking about, and it made a great deal of sense.

But that’s not what we did. Ted Cruz, from left field, said we have to defund Obamacare permanently in this CR. If they offered the Keystone pipeline and the privatization of Fannie and Freddie you couldn’t take that. We only want this, and we only want it on Tuesday—Wednesday is no good. The debt ceiling is no good. So that got locked in as a principle. And people went out on talk radio and said if you’re not for this you’re a coward, you’re a RINO.

It’s actually an even better point when read in its context as a contrast between methods of pushing the agenda. And, of course, it is easy to treat contempt with contempt; the sequester is doing real, human damage in our society that is worth a hell of a lot more than a Kennedy joke.

But when we look past those minor offenses, give some real consideration to what has happened to our public discourse in recent years, it is worth acknowledging that things may well have gotten out of hand beyond even Norquist’s imagination. Certes, Republicans and their institutional allies like Norquist might say they had no idea what they were stitching together, but things have gotten so strange lately that conservative caricatures like Grover Norquist and Rep. Pete King (R-NY02) are suddenly striking the GOP’s moderate colors?

It’s all well and fine for MSNBC, and remember that Klein is part of the extended family there. The really interesting thing with MSNBC is that after years of fractious relationships with Republican political and media figures, the primetime hosts seem to be enjoying a sudden crop of establishment Republicans who are finally willing to admit that the Democratic-sympathizing infotainment crew isn’t really so evil, and are looking for a receptive audience to pitch their rational outlooks to.

After all, Republicans aren’t entirely delusional. They have simply been playing the game with such fervor in recent years that they really do seem to have become lost somewhere along the way. Perhaps we are seeing the first signs of a positive development.

That is, it has been apparent to some conservatives for some time now that their little Frankenstein fantasy has indeed run amok, and the calculation now is one of those cynical notions like the recall formula—will it hurt worse to deal with it now or later? Especially after it becomes apparent that waiting does no good, that the challenge will not abate of its own volition, the rule of thumb really ought to be that sooner is better. Whether they have learned any lessons for future cycles of history is very nearly moot, of course, as the few Republicans who remained after the shutdowns of 1995-6 were not enthusiastic toward the present standoff, but certainly were in no position to forestall this outcome.

Republicans who have gambled and survived these last twenty years of right-wing rise-again are running out of winning permutations. What has long been apparent to people not specifically sympathetic to the Party—the rise of an irrational, inflexible, break-but-never-bend faction that learns nothing and understands nothing, that is to say, the inevitability of this losing proposition—is perhaps becoming undeniable to the faithful Republican would-be moderates who have survived the ongoing hardline purge.

There comes a point at which one is no longer willing to empower destructive behavior by others, because the one can no longer offer any reasonable alternative explanation for the behavior.

So much of politics is known to be self-serving we ought not pretend any shock at such selfish attributions, but iconoclasts like Grover Norquist have worked hard to push the center this far rightward, and they are not about to sit by silently while a bunch of witless upstarts burn it all. And if that means it’s time to start pitching to all the moderates they chased into the Democratic tent? Well, yes, we might well be witnessing the turn to a new phase of … er … ah … Republican … um … something.

In the end, what we’re seeing will only resolve with time, but amid the arid, hopeless desert of the Beltway today is a rumor of something far more lush and fruitful, waiting for its moment, that some tomorrow might become now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s