It’s been hard for me to string my various thoughts regarding this debt ceiling fight into a coherent post. As such, here are ten timely thoughts which I have roughly attempted to string together for you …
1. Let’s begin by conceding that Democrats and Obama have done nothing to help matters and, in fact, have made things worse.
2. Having said that, it strikes me that there are two things Republicans ought to be worried about. First, (obviously) Republicans should do the right thing for the nation in terms of policy. But second, Republicans ought to make sure they are not wrongly blamed if and when things do go wrong. In the event Republicans are blamed for a complete catastrophe, all their ideas — not just fiscal policy — could be undermined. Why should The Right To Life be compromised just because some Tea Party Freshmen are blamed for skyrocketing interest rates? The stakes are high.
3. Presumably, if the GOP could say they passed two bills raising the debt ceiling, the odds of them being blamed for not raising it would be minimized. This seems like common sense to me. This, I think, is part of John Boehner’s calculus for pushing a not-so-perfect deal.
4. This is not to say I’m a huge fan of the leadership. I’m not. At this point, I’m not sure whom I find more annoying — the GOP Party “bosses” or the Tea Party “Hobbits” who are 100 percent convinced that nothing will go wrong if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.
5. Speaking of which, I’m always skeptical of people who are 100 percent convinced of things — especially when these are big things that would impact my life — and when the people who are so sure of everything have no expertise to justify their confidence. Why are these folks so sure nothing really bad will happen if the debt ceiling isn’t raised? Maybe they are right and maybe they aren’t. But is the fact that we’ve been duped before by dire warnings (see TARP) a guarantee that this one is also phony?
6. The conservative argument against the Boehner deal seems to be that Republicans already passed “Cut, Cap, and Balance,” and thus, their work is done. Some Tea Party folks think the answer is to simply pressure the Senate to pass that bill. This seems to be a utopian rejection of reality. There is no chance it will pass the Senate, yet they fail to see that. Most likely, if Boehner’s deal cannot win enough Republican votes to pass, we will get a bill that will pass by attracting more Democratic votes. You tell me which deal will be better for conservatives.
7. Moreover, Tea Party folks seem convinced the public will hold Obama and Democrats responsible if things go wrong. This seems to defy history. People who assume Republicans will be blamed if things go south seem more likely to support the Boehner deal. In many ways, the conservative schism has nothing to do with ideology. It is, instead, a battle between conservatives who accept the world as it is (Sowell, Krauthammer, Ingraham, West) versus Utopian conservatives who want to see the world as they imagine it.
8. Legitimate grassroots conservatives who truly (if misguidedly) oppose the Boehner deal are patriots. But I have a real suspicion that a lot of the prominent voices opposing the deal are doing so for all the wrong reasons. Being against the deal helps some people and organizations raise money and garner press. It helps reinforce their “brand” as outsiders.
9. Regardless, this has to be a huge personal embarrassment to John Boehner and makes me wonder about the future of his speakership. Let’s just say he’s a long way from being Sam Rayburn. It is clear many of his own House GOP Members do not revere or respect him. They have made that clear. Maybe Republicans should elect a leader they will follow?
10. In fairness, John Boehner faced a two front war against the left and the right. I wonder if Tea Party folks are comfortable knowing they were on the same side as Obama, Pelosi and Reid …