Friday, February 18, 2011


It seems fairly likely that House Republicans will force a government shutdown soon -- as a Capitol Hill staffer put it, in an e-mail to Steve Benen, "It's becoming clearer and clearer everyday that Republicans in the House have no connection to reality and are willing to burn it all down." New York magazine naively asks, "Who Will Be Blamed for the Government Shutdown?" -- but from this Politico story (which also notes that Nancy Pelosi expects a shutdown) it's pretty clear that the right is lining up its talking points, and the right's messages usually prevail:

"This is just another example of Washington Democrats rooting for a government shutdown, hoping to take partisan advantage," said [John Boehner's] spokesman Michael Steel [not to be confused with former RNC chair Michael Steele]. "Republicans, on the other hand, are listening to the American people, who want us to cut spending -- not shut the government down."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office echoed the sentiment. Spokesman Don Stewart said that "Senate Democrats seem strangely preoccupied with the notion of a government shutdown."

I can't help wondering whether this message is going to get rolled into a message about Wisconsin and other states where Democrats are encouraging union protests. The lead thread at Fox Nation right now bears the headline

Obama Triggers Union Uprisings in Multiple States

This follows a front-page thread from yesterday (and yes, the mere existence of this tut-tutting thread at a Fox site proves that irony is dead):

Union Hate Rally in Wisconsin: Protests Rife With Hitler, Gun Targets, Death Threats

Message: Obama is the union thug in chief, a black guy fomenting lawlessness. (In Wingnut World, all union workers are violent head-busting savages, even the teachers.)

Oh, and there's also the (rather ungrammatical) headline of this thread:

Just Like Arizona, Obama Attacks Sitting Governor Protecting Their State

If you don't speak Wingnut, I'll translate: The Arizona immigration law was all about Jan Brewer and the legislature valiantly endeavoring to protect Arizonans from brutal, murderous, lawbreaking brown thugs -- but Obama is trying to prevent that. He stands with the lawbreakers. And his intervention in Wisconsin is more of the same.

Also see Stanley Kurtz, writing for National Review:

American politics just keeps getting more polarized. Be assured that Obama wants it that way. I argue in Radical-in-Chief that Obama's long-term hope is to divide America along class lines (roughly speaking, tax payers versus tax beneficiaries). Obama's attack on the Supreme Court at his 2010 State of the Union address, his offensive against the Chamber of Commerce, his exhortation to Hispanics to punish their enemies, and several similar moves were all efforts to jump-start a populist movement of the left. Like his socialist organizing mentors, Obama believes that a country polarized along class lines will eventually realign American politics sharply to the left. Yet the entire strategy is based on the need for an activated, populist movement of the left. So far, Obama has failed to create such a movement. His expensive economic agenda has provoked a populist counter-movement of the right instead: Obama’s nightmare.

Now, however, Obama may belatedly be getting his wish. The very success of the Tea Party is calling forth an opposing movement of the left....

Reports that Obama's own organizers helped put together the Madison protests fit the model....

When the government shuts down, not only will the loudest voices be blaming the Democrats, but they'll be looking for a way to make the shutdown some sort of example of Alinskyism (Kurtz invokes Alinsky five times in his NR piece). It'll be something Obama wanted -- because he wanted disorder (Rahm Emanuel's "crisis go to waste" line will be dredged up yet again) and, specifically, lawlessness.

I don't know what the messaging is going to be exactly, but I think at least part of it is going to go in that direction. It's not just going to be about "big government" vs. "small government." It's going to be about societal order vs. (deliberately induced) chaos.

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