Monday, November 22, 2010


Is Paul Krugman being hyperbolic when he writes this about the strong likelihood that Republicans won't compromise on such subjects as the debt, START, and the extension of unemployment benefits? I think what he says is an understatement -- I think I've said this before, but in discussing this, I think we need to start using words like "coup."

... The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it's doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party's cooperation -- cooperation that won't be forthcoming.

... the G.O.P. isn't interested in helping the economy as long as a Democrat is in the White House.

... everyone knows that these Republicans oppose the [START] treaty, not because of legitimate objections, but simply because it's an Obama administration initiative; if sabotaging the president endangers the nation, so be it.

...My sense is that most Americans still don't understand this reality. They still imagine that when push comes to shove, our politicians will come together to do what's necessary. But that was another country....

Or maybe "coup" is a strong enough word but not the correct word -- as I see it, for 30 years we've had a country that's nominally democratic, but in which presidents are allowed to govern only if they're Republican or forced to defer to Republicans.

Don't think of the Democrats and Republicans as the two major political parties in a democratic system; think of the Republican Party as the U.S. equivalent of, say, the people who really run Pakistan -- the generals and members of the intelligence establishment. Pakistan has elections, but if you're elected, you're still not free to do what that crowd doesn't want you to do. Cross them and you're likely to suffer the consequences.

We don't have literal coups or assassinations (so far), but that seems to be because our authoritarian permanent government doesn't need them, and because maintaining the illusion that we're not a country run by a strongman force strengthens the Republicans in the long run. As Krugman notes (and as Zandar notes), Republicans seem able to run the country this way without attracting any scrutiny from even the most plugged-in observers. Hard to imagine when that will change, if ever.

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