By Charles Pierce, Esquire
Besides associating myself with this morning’s remarks from Professor Krugman, I’d also like to say that behaving as though you are operating out of a panic ginned-up by financiers, pundits, and people who still want your head on a stick is no way to celebrate stomping a mudhole in Willard Romney’s privileged ass. The president on Friday afternoon shouldn’t just give a “statement about the action we need to take to keep our economy growing and reduce our deficit.” The president should call a press conference and calmly explain that giant winged lizards from hell will not rise from fissures in the earth if we hold the matter of the Gentle Fiscal Incline over until after the holidays and that, in the meantime, if the best the Republican “leadership” can do is what it’s doing – to denigrate the beating they took (Mitch McConnell) or suggest that, now that Willard Romney’s has had a mudhole stomped in his ass, the best way forward is for both parties to join hands and agree to implement the basics of Willard Romney’s economic plan (John Boehner) – then it’s probably best if we wait until cooler heads have had a couple of egg nogs and we all come back and develop a consensus that one side, you know, actually lost on Tuesday. Any questions?
It long has been my opinion that, sooner or later, it is the responsibility of the Democratic party to the future of the republic and the political commonwealth to beat the Republicans so badly in so many areas that the Republicans are faced with a choice of either historical irrelevance, or wringing the craziness out of their party by enforcing a set of party orthodoxies that does not include creationism, gay-bashing, anti-science lunacy, and the crackpot economic theory that has infected the party ever since Arthur Laffer found that cocktail napkin in the airport bar. Until that glorious day when we have proportional voting, viable third parties, and sparkling white unicorn ponies, like it or not, the Democratic party is the only political institution capable of doing that job. That it largely has shirked that job ever since the first time somebody yelled “peacenik!” at it in the late autumn of 1972 does not make the job less real, or the urgency of doing it less immediate.
Because the Republican economic vision for the country lost as decisively on Tuesday as Todd Akin did, and for the same reason. The economic principles of Paul Ryan are no less nutty than Akin’s views on the magical contraceptive powers of the potions within the ladyparts. They are a recipe for oligarchy for the few and dystopia for the many. And, in case anybody missed it, the zombie-eyed granny-starving “budget” geek’s home state went for the president in a very big way, and he only won re-election to his House seat by 11 points, the lowest margin of victory he’s ever had.
The project should begin with the economy, because the choice of historical irrelevance or wringing out the crazy on other issues is going to take care of itself. Demographics are going to force the choice on the Republicans as far as immigration goes, and also on issues relating to the reproductive freedom of women. The country as a whole has shown that it’s going to force the choice on them as regards gay rights. The ocean is going to make the choice for them on climate change. It is the economic issues, then, on which that choice will have to be forced on them by the Democrats directly, and within the framework of political negotiation.
In short, and on the pure politics of it, there’s really nothing to negotiate. The public wants a more progressive tax code with fewer loopholes for the wealthy. (The carried-interest loophole is a disgrace to an evolved democracy.) The public wants programs like Social Security and Medicare strengthened, but not by “reforming” the guaranteed-benefit part of them out of the equation. The public wants more regulation on Wall Street than even Dodd-Frank has given us. The public has tumbled to the fact that the rising-tide-lifts-all-boats, trickle-down palaver has been a scam all along. You know what happens with a rising tide if you don’t have a boat? You drown.
But, thanks to our old friend Mr. Madison, budget bills have to originate in the House, which means we have to involve the Speaker, which means we have to take into account the fact that he presides over a hatchful of boobies. We take that into account. One, two, three. Okay, we done? It is then explained to Mr. Boehner that the Romney economic plan is not going to be the rock on which we build the church. It is then explained to Mr. Boehner that, henceforward, there will be more punishment for obstructionism than there will be a reward for it. The Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000 are as dead as Richard Mourdock’s political career. The payroll tax cut goes on. How he explains it to the people in the House is his own business, and he can take as much time as he wants to do it, but there will be no hostage-taking this time around. What was done to Willard Romney can be done to John Boehner. He can be loyal to his caucus, and the clamorous hallelujah chorus of wingnuts urging them on from the cheap seats, or he can be loyal to the people of his home state, which did, after all, clinch the election for the president.
I will stipulate, under severe coercion, that the president has an obligation to govern the country with Republicans, even the toweringly awful Republicans who hold a majority in the House. But he is under absolutely no obligation to make John Boehner’s life easier politically, nor is he under any obligation to soften the hard choices that the Republicans have backed themselves into after three decades of encouraging the crazy in all aspects of our public life. Here is Exhibit A. Choose, Mr. Speaker. Those people, or a part in actually helping to govern the country. There’s no third alternative. Not any more.
(Has Mr. Needham there ever been in an actual war? Of course, not. If he had, he might’ve learned that, when you lose as badly as his side lost on Tuesday, you sue for terms or you get overrun.)
One of the real problems in this country has been that the Republicans have taken extreme positions and paid no lasting political price for them. They’ve lost election, certainly, but elections are not the only place where a political price must be paid. It must also be paid within the everyday negotiations within which the government functions. It is time to make John Boehner choose between being a responsible constitutional officer, or being the creature of all the bats and flying things that have so damaged the country, and that have so scoured the soul of his party. That’s his problem. The president should give him until after the first of the year to think about it.