Republican’t: Learning To Love Losing To Liberals

W. James Antle III Managing Editor
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The old Genesis song “Illegal Alien” needs to be updated, and not just because the lyrics don’t comply with AP style.

“It’s no fun being an illegal alien” should be changed to “It’s no fun being a Republican.”

Hillary Clinton is unraveling before her 2016 presidential campaign officially begins. Not even The New York Times can stomach it. Whatever you think of his foreign-policy recommendations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just made Barack Obama look like more petulant than presidential.

And the Republicans, after weeks of insisting they were going to huff and puff and blow the house that is Obama’s executive amnesty down, promptly caved and passed funding for the Department of Homeland Security that leaves the amnesty untouched.

Even during the bad old days of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, when congressional Republicans spent like drunken Democrats and developed a bizarre earmarks fetish, there was a rule that bills needed to have majority Republican support — that is, the majority of the majority party — in order to make it to the House floor.

So much for that. The DHS capitulation passed the House with more Democratic than Republican votes. Two-thirds of Republicans voted against it.

Republicans allowed Obama’s unilateral amnesty over a controversy involving less than a fifth of a department that didn’t even exist until the previous administration.

Spoiler alert: while this column was inspired by the DHS mess, what follows will describe virtually ever major fight involving Republicans that you can expect to see in your lifetime.

First, take a bold stand that enrages the Democratic opposition. Then get involved in some kind of shutdown-style crisis scenario that enrages squishy swing voters. Finally, back down and enrage your remaining supporters among the Republican rank-and-file.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

A plausible argument could be made that the optics of holding up any homeland security money were always bad and that the media coverage would give short shrift to the GOP’s side of the story, because Republicans weren’t talking about birth control or something.

Fine. Then just proceed with the clean DHS funding and spare everyone the charade.

But if you are going to try to fight the president’s executive action, then fight it, damn it. Spend some money and take out ads in vulnerable Democratic senators’ states.

“Democratic senator X is holding up funding for the Department of Homeland Security, money that’s supposed to keep Americans safe, in order to protect President Obama’s unilateral and possibly illegal amnesty for illegal immigrants.”

“Please call your Democratic senator X and tell him to stop this liberal filibuster. Say yes to homeland security and no to presidential overreach on amnesty for illegal aliens.”

Maybe you win some Democratic votes, like on the Keystone XL pipeline. Maybe these ads don’t move the needle at all, in which case you can at least make your decision to cave based on actual data about public opinion rather than because you got sick of punching yourself in the face.

Instead you have $400,000 in ads running against conservative Republicans who oppose the amnesty, paid for by a group that includes a former chief of staff for House Speaker John Boehner. (Boehner’s office publicly denied approving of the ads.)

Republicans routinely pick fights with no identifiable endgame, without any strategy for success or even communicating what they’re trying to accomplish, only to end up at each other’s throats.

After weeks of talking tough or taking a pounding, a Republican leader then steps in with the white flag.

Not only does this unite virtually the entire country against the GOP, it makes fiscal responsibility look irresponsible, adherence to constitutional law look lawless and conservatism look radical.

Then the guy who wants to spend trillions we don’t have, usurp congressional powers and unilaterally rewrite immigration laws looks like the adult in the room.

As baseball legend Casey Stengel might ask, “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

W. James Antle III is managing editor of The Daily Caller and author of the book Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? Follow him on Twitter.