Sunday, January 2, 2011

Eating Their Unborn

Oh boy are things ever starting to pile up on those slender, emotional, tear-drenched shoulders of John Boehner. Agent Orange hasn’t even assumed his lofty position as Speaker of the House and already the troops are revolting. And you thought Nancy Pelosi had a tough time walking that fine line between the Blue Dogs and progressives within her own party; just wait until the new crowned prince of Washington dons his armor. Talk about the bloom coming off the rose. So much for a honeymoon period.

So what’s up in GOP land? Well, apparently it wasn’t good enough that they got their way with the Bush tax cuts, the Tea Party is all up in arms over the “concessions” that were made by the Republicans in the lame-duck session of the 111th Congress. You know, concessions like extending unemployment benefits for the jobless, passing START, taking care of the first responders of 9/11, repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and, last but hardly least, passing a continuing resolution to keep the government from shutting down until March. Madness, I say, madness. The nerve of those guys coming together and taking care of business that way. What would Dick Armey and the Koch brothers say?

And now you know why I have been such an advocate of Obama choosing cooperation over confrontation with the new 112th Congress. Yes, it’s humbling to “lay down” to the new overlords of the House, and make no mistake, the far Right has designs on undoing just about everything the President has accomplished over the last two years. But, as depressing as it may seem for progressives these days, I, for one, am starting to feel pretty good about the way things are shaping up. My gut tells me these neophytes are going to spend as much time battling each other as they are the Democrats. Unless, of course, the liberal base screws it up and gets their dander up, which I suspect is what they’re planning on doing.

Resist the urge!

That’s right, comrades, you heard me right. Resist the urge to do what comes naturally, swallow hard, and wait for opportunity to present itself. After watching the Party of No spend the last two years acting like spoiled brats who watched the building burn to the ground, the last thing the country needs and wants is another two years of obstructionism. That doesn’t mean that the GOP gets everything they want – Democrats still control this little thing known as the Senate – but rather than be provocative, which will only cause whatever moderate elements are left among Republicans to join forces and close ranks with the Tea Party activists, it would be better to employ some good old-fashioned pick and role strategy and strike some deals with the remaining voices of reason.

Peter, you are insane, you might say. Perhaps. What kind of progressive am I, you might ask? The kind that survives, that’s who. It’s time progressives took a good look at the political landscape and smelled the caffeine. If you think that Blue Dogs were despised by liberals over the last two years for holding up legislation that passed in the House, I have some news for you. They got nothing on the contempt that the Tea Partiers hold for “establishment” Republicans whom they view as traitors to their worldview. A moderate Republican might as well be a Marxist, for all these people know or care. Already plans are under way to challenge both Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe in their respective primaries. And they aren’t the only ones that will be thrown under the GOP bus. It would be the height of insanity for Democrats to throw away this opportunity and force Collins, Snowe and the remaining endangered species back into the fold.

Reason is not in the Tea Party vocabulary. Look what they did to Mike Castle in Delaware. Lisa Murkowski survived, despite being defeated in her own party’s primary. Think she isn’t harboring some resentment? Why, on earth, would Democrats NOT want to take advantage of that angst? Why would they want to give these “traitorous” RINOs even a sliver of a chance to crawl back to their constituents in the most obvious act of contrition in generations?

Well, the correct answer, assuming enough Democrats have not taken leave of their senses, is of course they wouldn’t. And while I think it will take a Herculean effort on their part to resist the urges that reside within them to fumble the ball that Providence has thrown their way, I’m betting the ranch that, with the assistance of a calm and calculating Obama at the helm, enough of them will bite their lips and play along. They won’t like it one bit, and they’ll be grumbling under their breath the whole time, but, if they play their cards right, in the end they will prevail.

Why? Because, while the Tea Party movement is virulent, it is also the most inflexible, arrogant and ideological-driven movement in American politics. While this served them well during the campaign, it will backfire on them now that they have to actually govern. Virtually every single poll taken over the last few weeks has shown that the electorate expects both sides to come together and get the country moving. The only mandate that any reasonable person could take from the midterm results should be “shape up or ship out!” The voters want results, not bickering. Do not think that John Boehner isn’t aware of this, as is Mitch McConnell. The juggling job that both these men now have should be quite humorous to observe over the next two years. No need to make either of their jobs any easier by allowing foolish pride to get in the way.

And that’s exactly what it would be: foolish pride. They say pride goeth before a fall. Well the Dems were already read the riot act last November. There’s no need for them to keep tripping over their own shoelaces.

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