THE TAO OF STUPID
Sheila Jackson-Lee might be the dumbest person in congress. She might even be the dumbest person outside congress. If there were ever a global championship for idiots, the country could send her there. And leave her there; because unlike Lassie, she wouldn’t be able find her way back on her own.
When Enron wanted someone to use as a puppet, they picked Sheila Jackson-Lee. They wanted a woman who didn’t have a mind of her own. Enron executives described her as “agreeable”, which was a polite way of saying, “dumber than a bunch of rocks caught in the hubcaps of a slow bus going the wrong way on a one way street in the middle of a flood.”
That’s from my Front Page Magazine article, Sheila Jackson Lee: Racist and Moron. That was the polite title. Unfortunately congressional Republicans aren’t exactly outscoring her right now.
The amount of friendly fire by a circular firing squad is what you would expect after losing an election. And the blogs that specialize in shouting, “Fight, Fight” and then standing by and racking up hit counts by pushing more fights aren’t exactly helping.
After spending two months kicking around Newt Gingrich, the GOP 2011 has mishandled the budget standoff while learning no lessons from his tenure. Obama’s goals were fairly simple and so far he’s achieved most of them.
1. Pin the blame for the impasse on Republicans
2. Divide the Republican leadership from the grass roots
3. Force through a “compromise” budget that gives him everything he wants and leaves the other side with nothing of substance that he can’t bypass.
The media covered the first part, with the aid of a GOP in communication breakdown mode. The GOP is now deep in circular firing squad mode which covers the second part. And the third is likely still to come.
A budget battle against a media entrenched Oval Office occupant, with only the House, but not the Senate was always a dicey proposition. It would take a strong negotiator with a powerful public presence to hold up the GOP side.
The goal on the Democratic side isn’t to pass a budget, but to create a crisis, pin the blame on the GOP, and particularly the Tea Party, wait for the opposition to fracture, and collect the winnings of a frantic compromise budget. And here we are.
Obama’s plan was to leave the mess in the House, have the Senate veto anything sent up, and give regular press conferences warning of imminent disaster. And it’s worked out fairly well. It’s irresponsible and there are Democrats in the know who are disgusted by it. But the same holds true for his entire tenure. It looks increasingly like he was able to bluff the Republican party, then divide and conquer.
This won’t destroy the Tea Party or give Obama a second term. But it sets a dangerous precedent in an election year. If the Republican party can be outmaneuvered on this, how good does the election really look?
Boehner is not the problem, but he is “a” problem. He seems to have been chosen for his inoffensive qualities. No one wanted a repeat of Gingrich vs Clinton. Fair enough. But there were better choices. The Republican party has no public face, and while that avoids the danger of being Gingriched, it lets the media put its own face on the party. With no real response.
The GOP does need a public face. A great communicator who’s telegenic and articulate, charming and able to be on every news program at the same time. Those aren’t impossible requirements. But in a party that puts forward the likes of Boehner, Pawlenty, Paul Ryan and wonders why they won’t connect, that is a challenge. More of one than it should be.
The larger problem though is strategic. Going into the budget fight, the only ammunition on the GOP side was an expectation that the Democrats would want to work toward a deal. And that was a mistaken assumption. The Dems had nothing to gain from a deal, and everything to lose.
The Democratic party lost badly in 2010. Obama’s polling is equally disastrous. Even if the left wing gang that controls the party now was interested in being good citizens, their only shot is to sabotage the GOP. And that’s what they’re doing. They’re not prepared to take real damage to do it, but they were betting that the Republican party wouldn’t either. Because the GOP is rising, and when you’re rising, then you have more to lose.
The challenge here wasn’t impossible, but it wasn’t easy either. And the Republican party blew it. But losing a battle is also valuable. It’s a wake up call before losing the war.