3 Questions About the Tea Party Debacle

1. Will Obama ever learn to be a gracious winner?

No.  As with the fiscal cliff, he couldn’t resist the temptation to dance in the end zone.  From his remarks this morning:

Because Democrats and responsible Republicans came together, the first government shutdown in 17 years is now over….

We hear some members who pushed for the shutdown say they were doing it to save the American economy.  But nothing has done more to undermine our economy these past three years than the kind of tactics that create these manufactured crises. …

Some of the same folks who pushed for the shutdown and threatened default claim their actions were needed to get America back on the right track. To make sure we’re strong. But probably nothing has done more damage to America’s credibility in the world — our standing with other countries — than the spectacle we’ve seen these past several weeks.  It’s encouraged our enemies; it’s emboldened our competitors; and it’s depressed our friends who look to us for steady leadership.

My point is not that anything quoted above is wrong — I agree with all of it (except the tone). My point is that it’s counter-productive for the president to spend four minutes bashing his opponents before he talks about issues where the two parties might be able to agree on something.

The most gratuitous and unnecessary bit was the reference to “responsible” Republicans, which was the second sentence out of his mouth.  In a victory speech, the president should leave it to others to make that point. The man who promised in 2008 to “resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long” has once again exposed himself as the Great Divider.

2. Did the Tea Party win anything?

No.  Peter Wehner breaks it down at Commentary:

The approach first championed by Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, and embraced by a significant number of House Republicans, resulted in (a) no substantive changes to the Affordable Care Act; (b) an increase in its popularity; (c) diverting attention away from the epically incompetent roll out of the new health care exchanges; (d) the GOP’s popularity dropping to the lowest point for either party since Gallup began asking the question in 1992; (e) more than washing away the gains Republicans had made on the issues over the course of this year; (f) reviving the Obama presidency, which until the shutdown was drifting and suffering a terrible year; and (g) set back GOP prospects in the 2014 mid-term elections.

Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal:

Let’s replace all the Republicans in Congress with their children or grandchildren. Bring in the 15-year-olds. How could it get worse? … Defund ObamaCare is now the Republicans’ New Coke.”

In Politico, Rich Lowry said of the defunders:

At best, their approach was a high-risk, low-reward strategy. As it turns out, there wasn’t even any reward.

President Obama didn’t need to twist the knife after winning. Conservative pundits are lining up to do it for him.

3. What’s the most obnoxious aspect of the legislation that ended the shutdown?

After all the drama about needing “a clean bill” focused just on the immediate crisis, the bill that passed was larded with pork: $2.2 billion for a dam project in Kentucky, $450 million for rebuilding projects in Colorado, money for a variety of federal agencies, $174,000 for Frank Lautenberg’s rich widow.  Senator McCain:

“These people are like alcoholics. They can’t resist taking a drink. It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona to the Daily Beast, referring to the dam project. “It shows that there are people in this body who are willing to use any occasion to get an outrageous pork-barrel project done at the cost of millions and millions of dollars. It’s disgusting.”

Preach it, brother McCain, but I think the comparison is unfair to alcoholics.  Alcoholics at least can go to meetings.  There’s apparently no hope for Congress.

(Video from CNN, photo from whitehouse.gov)


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