Friday, October 9, 2015
Sometimes I think I must be dreaming. Just when you thought the Republican Party couldn't get any screwier, they go from the ridiculous to the unbelievable. It's like that scene in Space Balls when the ship jumps to Ludicrous speed. That's pretty much where the GOP is today, thanks to the announcement that Majority Leader and wonderkind Kevin McCarthy has decided NOT to seek the Speakership of the House.
Not that he had much choice. Thanks to the Freedom Caucus - a band of some 40 far-right zealots on a mission - McCarthy was about 18 votes shy of the 218 he needed to get elected. Yes, the group that forced John Boehner out as Speaker has now claimed his successor. At this rate, it's entirely possible that "the people's house" might not have a leader for quite some time. Wow, Nancy Pelosi's looking real good right about now.
All kidding aside, this is a travesty. The Republican Party isn't just rudderless; it's rudderless and running at full speed towards the abyss. The country has never seen anything like this. An entire party at war with itself and completely unable to govern. It is now all but certain that we are headed towards a government shutdown. The only question is when. John Boehner may have granted a stay of execution, but it was temporary at best. The next Speaker, if there is one, will almost certainly kowtow to the extremists in the party and those extremists are loaded for bear.
As I mentioned in an earlier piece, this moment was four years in the making. The Tea Party came to Washington with one thing on its mind: to burn down the joint. It never had any intention of governing. Like a spoiled child, it wanted what it wanted when it wanted it. It was all or nothing. Compromise was a four-letter word. This movement is now so deeply embedded in the Republican Party that no candidate can stand up to them. The Frankenstein monster that was created as a result of the 2010 midterm wave election is now running the show. And anybody that challenges it, is targeted for defeat.
Peter King and Charlie Dent can object all they want over the paralysis that has gripped their party; the truth is they and others like them are partly, if not mainly, responsible for that paralysis. Where were they when this faction shut down the government in 2013? Or for that matter damn near brought about a debt default in 2011? Talk is cheap, but the fact is had King and the establishment Republicans taken a much firmer stand, none of this would've happened. Had Boehner allowed an up and down vote on last-year's Senate immigration bill, the country would now have a much better immigration system than the one it currently has.
Face it, not one Republican House member has had the balls to put his money where his mouth is. They have allowed their party to be hi-jacked by this extremist faction and, in the process, allowed this once-proud institution to become the laughing stock of the world.
And it isn't just the House that has become a joke. Much as I despise him, Mitch McConnell has had his hands full as Majority Leader trying to keep the Senate from deteriorating into chaos. He and the establishment members of his caucus successfully thwarted an attempt by Ted Cruz to stop a clean funding bill from being voted on last month.
And on the campaign trail it seems that just about every candidate the GOP trots out has bought in to this insanity. Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are leading in the polls and all are saying the most outlandish things imaginable. From Trump's Mexicans are rapists remarks, to Fiorina's misleading Planned Parenthood ad, to Carson's outrageous comments concerning the victims in the Oregon mass shooting, it seems the more unhinged these candidates are, the more popular they become with the base. Next to these people, John Kasich is practically Abe Lincoln. It's as though someone left the idiot bag open and out poured these morons.
In the short run, the Democrats will benefit from this freak show in 2016, provided they don't blow it. But in the long run, all of us will suffer. The political system of this country cannot survive when one of its two major parties is this certifiable. The truth is I see no way the GOP can extricate itself from this nightmare. They created this monster; it will be up to them to destroy it.