Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Ezra Klein writes:

You guys like polls, right?

45% approve of Obama's handling of health care, while 46% disapprove, which is up from his 41%-47% score last month. By comparison, just 21% approve of the Republican Party's handling of the issue.

The Republican Party's strategy against health-care reform has been something of a kamikaze mission: destroy the bill through a strategy that also destroys the party, at least in the short-term.

Well, Ezra, nothing ever actually destroys a major party in this country. No one can figure out a way to get from our calcified two-party system to anything else. So it doesn't matter how many times Glenn Beck leads his minions in a chant of "Both parties suck!" Voters will still see themselves as having two choices.

The hope is that if they win the war, they'll be in better shape come the 2010 midterms. Maybe that'll work. Maybe it won't.

With the base, it'll work. I don't know when, but before you know it, the bait-and-switch is coming from the right-wing noise machine: we'll be introduced to a new bunch of candidates who profess hatred of everyone Glenn Beck hates. And surprise! They'll all be Republicans!

But if it does work, it won't leave them in a better position to govern.

OK, this is where you lose me, Ezra. Who in the Republican Party gives a crap about the ability to govern? Controlling government is about accruing power. It's about obtaining and distributing boodle. It's about rewarding rich friends and starting popular, rabble-rousing wars (domestic and foreign) so you can keep doing more of the same indefinitely. And if you're not a stumblebum named Bush (but I repeat myself), it's probably a viable plan.

What Republicans -- and, when they're out of power, Democrats -- are doing is essentially discrediting the political process.

For Republicans, that's a feature, not a bug.

Piece by piece, bill by bill. The argument, essentially, is that politicians are untrustworthy and Congress is corrupt and interest groups are trying to do horrible things to you and problems are not being solved.


All those thing might be true, but they're being said, in this case, by politicians who want to take back Congress


and start negotiating with interest groups to solve problems.

False. They're not being said by politicians who want to start negotiating with interest groups to solve problems. They're being said by Republicans.

That's not going to work terribly well, and for obvious reasons. Republicans may think they've found a clever strategy in making it hard for Democrats to govern, but what they're really doing is making it nearly impossible for anyone to govern. American politics is trapped in a cycle of minority obstruction, and though that's good for whomever the minority is at the moment, it's not particularly good for making progress on pressing issues.

Right. Exactly. That's the point. The way you stay in power forever is to (a) gain control of the government, then (b) define "government" as your evil enemies, the liberals and Democrats, against whose predations you're defending ordinary Americans. It worked for Reagan. It even worked for that stumblebum George W. Bush for a while. And this governing thing? Well, if neglect of that means that chaos eventually rains down, you had a hell of a ride, and years of currying the favor of the powerful will protect you well.


UPDATE: Steve Benen said essentially the same thing, though in a much more civilized manner.

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