Friday, October 11, 2013


The conventional narrative right now is that the government shutdown and debt brinkmanship are doing tremendous damage to the GOP, as seen in that new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, and that's why Republicans are talking to the White House. But if there's damage, it's not going to be to the Republican Party -- it's going to be to just one version of the Republican Party, the one that brought us to this crisis. As I told you even before the shutdown began, the Republican Party as a whole never gets the blame it deserves, because the mainstream press responds to every GOP failure -- Watergate, the 1995 government shutdown, the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the Iraq War, the 2008 financial collapse -- by quickly announcing the birth of a new Republican Party that utterly expunges the sins of the old.

It's happening again.

Look at this gushing story about Paul Ryan, from the front page of today's New York Times. Ryan emerged from the shadows this week, and we're clearly supposed to regard that as wonderful news, because he's serious and thoughtful and just, well, dreamy. He's a hard-liner and a moderate! An ideologue and a conciliator. A floor wax and a dessert topping:
Representative Paul D. Ryan may have temporarily receded into the Capitol shadows after his stinging vice-presidential defeat in November, but he remains a powerful presence among House Republicans, earning the respect of hard-line conservatives for his budget blueprint and the trust of anxious moderates for his pragmatism.

Now, the impasse that has shuttered much of the government and steered the nation toward a default has offered the Wisconsin congressman a new opening to reassert himself -- and suddenly a man who seemed in danger of being eclipsed as the face of his party has re-emerged as essential to its rescue.

"I want to get to a budget agreement," Mr. Ryan said bluntly on Thursday, after House Republican leaders latched onto his plan to offer a short-term increase in the debt ceiling as a way forward on deficit reduction and tax reform talks. "We think this takes us in the right direction."

Mr. Ryan, 43, has immense credibility with conservatives for his "Path to Prosperity" budget, which proposed politically risky Medicare changes and deep tax cuts. Moderates see Mr. Ryan, who has broken with some conservatives over immigration, as a lawmaker with some flexibility. In many respects, his standing exceeds that of the party's titular leader, Speaker John A. Boehner. Perhaps most important, Democrats believe that when Mr. Ryan drafts a plan, he can actually deliver the votes. They hold no such confidence in Mr. Boehner.

"He's still the intellectual center of Republicans in the House," said Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, who serves as Mr. Ryan's bridge between the House Budget and Appropriations Committees. "He's a guy who commands universal respect in the conference and the trust of leadership, and he has credibility with the other side." ...
I'll stop there. Are you getting the heavy-breathing quality of this? The romance-novel words -- "powerful," "reassert," "bluntly," "immense"?

We're supposed to ignore the fact that the Republicans are still shutting down the government. We're supposed to ignore the fact that they're still talking about a very brief respite from debt blackmail. A manly man, both tough and gentle, has taken the lead, and we're all supposed to swoon.

The mainstream press always does this -- always tells us that the GOP that just drove the car off the cliff two minutes ago isn't the real GOP. When the party's problem was seen as racism, Marco Rubio was declared to be the real GOP. When the problem is seen as "Washington," Chris Christie is said to be the real GOP. For now, it's Ryan. And if the current talks break down and Ryan gets some of the blame, it'll be someone else. The Republican Party is never at fault, because the Republican Party is endlessly malleable, in the mainstream press's view.


Victor said...


Just like Conservatism and Conservatives, our MSM believes that Republicanism can't fail.

Republicanism, can only be failed.

And soon, like a phoenix coming out from it's self-created post-fire ashes, the Republican Party will rise again!

Maybe those Danforth can get his Senate buddies back, change the words a little, and sing, 'As the Republican Phoenix Soars!'

Excuse me.
I gotta puke...

The New York Crank said...

Wait a while. It may get better. Personally, I'm waiting for Mitt Romney to rise from the dead and appoint Michele Bachmann as his running mate.

Very crankily yours,
The New York Crank

Nefer said...

"He's still the intellectual center of Republicans in the House," = That white gunk in the middle of a Hostess cupcake.

Robert said...

I never would have guessed that the fan mail was written by Jonathan "fuck Brad DeLong" Weisman who was called out in the blogosphere in 2004
(nice comment thread -- if you don't know who's the rube missing the sarcasm it's you).

There is no hope. Keep pissed and carry on.

John Taylor said...

Yeah! Paul Ryan and his Path to Poverty budget. Too bad for him that some of us can add.

White Hat said...

OK, right, we all gravitate to memes we find pleasant. It doesn't change facts.

Fact: Today, 40% of Tea Partiers do not identify as Republicans. The reps they elect all have (R) next to their names, but in no way do they support the traditional Republican agenda.

Fact: The GOP hopes to reduce the number of its primaries.

Fact: The Tea Party hopes to increase the number of Republican primaries.

Fact: Mitch McConnell, the most powerful GOP member of the Senate, will spend up to half his campaign funds fighting a hard-right Tea Party candidate this year. He can't even begin spending against his Democratic opponent until he gets past his Tea Party challenger.

Fact: The Tea Party was invented, constructed and funded specifically to prevent the implementation of "Obamacare." They even invented that name for the ACA. The ACA is up and running.

Fact: In its first week, the ACA signed up MILLIONS of voters. Preventing a law is difficult but not impossible. Killing a popular law is not feasible in the slightest. Time's up. The game is over.

Fact: Boehner's "shutdown theater" has now dropped any meaningful challenge to Obamacare.

I tend to distrust pleasant facts, because I understand my huge capacity for self deception.

I don't believe Tea Party asshats have suddenly "poof!" vanished, just as I don't think Christie Brinkley will seek me out this weekend. I'll never meet Christie Brinkley. The political arena is going to be afflicted with Tea Party horseshit for years.

But as a political force, the Tea Party is through. Their founding purpose became unattainable this week. Their creators have disavowed their shutdown tactics. FreedomWorks is bankrupt and the moneybags have gone dry. The asshats are merely asshats, no longer asshats with wealthy, hugely competent backers.

Gosh. Is that Christie Brinkley calling?

Temoin said...

I choked when I read this story in the Times this morning. (Why doesn't Jill Abramson choke when she sees crap like this?) Anyway, thanks for highlighting this toadying excuse for journalism.

neroden@gmail said...

The "mainstream" press is dying, however, so this particular "Republican worship" behavior by the "mainstream" press becomes less and less relevant every year.

Procopius said...

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Bang Query Bang Query. The mainstream press is owned by the same couple of dozen people who own most of the Republican Party. The editors (the people who decide what you will see) are paid by the owners. So are the representatives and senators. They all have a pretty good idea what will please the people who sig their paychecks. And the same couple of dozen people own most of the Democratic Party. Obama loves them; that's why he keeps pursuing his Great Betrayal, no matter how many times the Republicans (or Tea Party) reject it.

amanda said...

You left Iran-Contra off your list of Republican failures glossed over and gussied up by the Washington "press corp."

Ten Bears said...

I remember that post Robert, LOL. And roger that Roger, they're two sides to the same coin. The problem isn't "Washington", the problem is the people in Washington, all of whom are nut-deep in The Corporation, all fully vested in the corporate state, the Fascist state. The R and the D behind their names doesn't mean a thing.

"America" as we have known it ended in December of 2000, that we are witnessing the deaththroes of the Retard Party, indeed witnessing the end of the two party system, is moot in the generally venicular. Interesting times, we live in.

Ain't nothin' east of The Rockies we need.

No fear.