I spotted this in a New York Times front-page story about the budget crisis:
"If you look back in time and evaluate the last couple of weeks, it should be titled 'The Time of Great Lost Opportunity,'" said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, among the many Republicans who argued that support for the health care law would collapse once the public saw how disastrous it really was.This is Lindsey Graham, not Ted Cruz. This is a Republican admitting to a reporter that his party was hurt by the events of the last couple of weeks. This is a Republican who seems to be somewhat abashed.
"It has been the best two weeks for the Democratic Party in recent times because they were out of the spotlight and didn't have to showcase their ideas," Mr. Graham added.
And yet his statement ends with that swipe at the Democrats. And though the story tells us that it's a reference specifically to the health care law, the wording suggests that the real message is: everybody knows that all Democratic ideas are stupid and dangerous.
Prominent Republicans say this sort of thing all the time. Now, I'd have no problem with this if prominent Democrats routinely did the same thing. But they don't. They don't routinely say that all Republican ideas are stupid and dangerous. They don't imply that America would be a better place if its citizens turned on the Republican Party and gave the GOP the series of electoral thrashings it deserves. That sometimes gets said during presidential campaigns, and it's said in some campaigns for other offices in deep-blue localities (see, e.g., Bill De Blasio in the first New York mayoral debate). But it's not a routine part of Democratic rhetoric, the way blanket dismissals of Democrats are a routine part of Republican rhetoric.
Yes, Democrats in the course of this crisis have said plenty of nasty things about the Tea Party and the Crazy Caucus. But that just suggests that there are non-crazy Republicans who have good ideas and who are willing to work in good faith to reach sound compromise solutions for America's sake. (That turned out to be true in this one instance, at a minute to midnight, with the fate of the global economy on the line. But "non-crazy" Republicans such as Mitch McConnell will now go back to trying to dismantle every Democratic legislative accomplishment of the past century, while endeavoring to enact a Kochite agenda that would be ruinous to ordinary Americans.)
When we talk about why American politics doesn't work anymore, a a simple message is rarely uttered: It's the Republican Party, stupid. That has to change.