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Thursday, October 03, 2013

Unable to Fool Anyone Else, Republicans Resort to Scamming Each Other

Con artist plays Three Card Monte
The government shutdown drags on. And from the nation's rightwing media, Republicans are getting some really lousy advice.

"I think the worst outcome, though, for the Republicans in the House at this point -- as they have been reasonable and the president totally unreasonable, Reid unreasonable -- is to cave," says Sean Hannity. "I don't think they should give in at all. And if that means that they're going to sit this out for a month or two months, or however long the president wants to be arrogant and not talk to anybody, then just sit it out."

"Media lies only have so much traction, eventually people will ask: 'Why won't Obama/Dems offer anything.'" advises's Jon Nolte. "Hang in there, GOP!"

Other brilliant strategists urging a "stick to your guns" approach are Sarah Palin, Erick Erickson, and Newt Gingrich -- the latter apparently having learned nothing from his own government shutdown fiasco. For the most part (Gingrich now sadly included) these are all rightwing media types. They'd probably prefer that Republicans win elections, but not nearly as much as they'd prefer not to lose their audience. The GOP base are emotionally-driven and poorly informed, so they really do think that if Republicans just hold out long enough, shout loud enough, and wish with all their little hearts, they'll do away with Obamacare.

A rally the troops message brings in the dopes. A "hey look, we have to face reality..." approach is a fast ticket to HasBeentown, by way of RiNOville. The base doesn't tune into rightwing media to hear reality -- that much should be obvious to anyone. They tune in to have their prejudices and misconceptions reinforced. They want to be lied to and if you level with them, you're outta here. So the wingnut punditry are going to be a chorus singing the praises of self-destruction.


Which puts John Boehner in a bit of a squeeze. He's dealing with people who are elected in gerrymandered districts by these same chumps who demand talk radio lie to them. So the same rules apply to these representatives as apply to talk radio hosts. Their constituencies don't want to hear that failure isn't just an option, but an inevitability. And if you dare to tell them anything approaching that level of truth, they'll primary you so fast you'll leave an after-image. Consider the words of one such rep.

"We’re not going to be disrespected,” Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman said yesterday. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is."

He was being absolutely serious, by the way. In Tea Party World, this isn't the ridiculously boobish statement it is everywhere else. They have to win this battle -- even though they have no clue as to what victory looks like or would bring them. Barack Obama dared to win reelection in 2012 and now he must pay -- somehow.

All of which puts John Boehner on the spot. A weak and gutless leader, he's more concerned with saving his job than in doing what's best for the country he was elected to serve. If he gives into reality and ends the shutdown, the 'bagger caucus will fry him the next time the speaker's gavel is up for grabs. But he can't not give into reality -- because it is, after all, reality. So he's looking for leverage and, as Greg Sargent explains, it looks like he thinks he's found it.

Today House Republicans continue to hold out against letting a “clean CR” funding the government pass with mostly Dems. Instead they will roll this fight into the debt limit battle, supposedly giving Republicans more leverage.

The Post’s Paul Kane has a great piece this morning detailing why House Speaker John Boehner is opting for this course. Boehner is so weak that he cannot afford to alienate House Tea Partyers twice — on the shutdown and again on the debt limit — so better to fight the good fight now and compromise in the debt limit fight, when the consequences of failure are far more dire. So Boehner is keeping Tea Partyers happy as long as possible...
In other words, since the party has no leverage at all in this fight, despite what lying wingnut media tells the base, Boehner is looking for leverage to use against his own party.  If he can just hold out long enough, he can lose more gracefully. Hopefully, that will be enough to mollify the enemies of reality that Republican voters have become and that in turn will save him from the fury of the 'baggers and wingnut media. Probably not even anything close to dodging 100% of their wrath, but enough to survive.

That's how bad things are for John Boehner right now and that's how bad things are for the Republican Party. They can't game the system, they can't game congressional Democrats, they can't game the White House. they can't game public opinion.

So they're forced to game themselves.


[photo via Wikimedia Commons]

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