One can feel sorry for Boehner: he tried to strengthen, if only from the PR perspective, the Republican position pre-fiscal cliff, only to be humiliated by his own crazies.
Boehner introduced a Plan B to Congress that included tax cuts for those making under $1mln a year. The plan was simple – to pass it with the partisan vote of 218 Republicans, so that bill would act as a fallback position/some leverage to present to the public when the fiscal cliff happens on January 1st. Of course, everyone, including Boehner, knew that this bill has no chance of passing Senate and being signed by Obama; the whole purpose of this bill was to show the public: “See? We also have a plan! That cuts taxes for 99.8%! But Democrats refuse to cooperate!” The passage would at least somehow give the Republicans a piece of legislation to wave in front of critics and to give the public, who doesn’t have time for details, the impression that something is being done. Well, they failed even at that due to the crazy wing, for whom to raise taxes on millionaires is anathema and for whom having even slightly better PR position is worse than maintaining their ideological purity. Plan B failed to pass the House.
Which only clears the way for Obama to let the “cliff” proceed. Come January and accompanying spending cuts and increased taxes, both sides will be ready to do something about it for real. Obama will introduce a tax cutting bill, goes across the country to promote “tax cuts and recovery” theme, dares Republicans not to pass it, they grudgingly acquiesce, and Obama and the Democrats will become known as tax cutters and the promoters of economic growth.
Obama has already chipped away at the traditionally Republican domain of strong foreigh policy by killing Bin Laden. Now he’s trespassing into the holiest of the holy of the Conservatism – fiscal responsibility. He leaves them no ground to stand on. What do they have left? What do current conservatives stand for? Obama smartly touches everything that they hold dear and they begin to despise the very positions that they previously held simply because they view them as contaminated. But all Obama does is govern as a center-right politician and that drives them nuts, because Obama is not supposed to be that. He’s supposed to be a caricature that they have internalized.
I do feel sorry for conservatives. Traditional conservatives used to have very good ideas that I find compelling: fiscal responsibility; personal responsibility; foreign policy restraint; right to privacy; respect for social contract and social cohesion, patriotism. But now they seem to have been reduced to the absurd with their unyielding zeal: fiscal responsibility means holding the country they allegedly love hostage; personal responisbility means you’re on your own even if you did everything right; foreign policy means calling for sending troops to every conflict worldwide; right to privacy does not include the right to reproductive privacy; social contract means worshipping the rich as “job creators”, and patriotism took a form of jingoism.
Current political disagreements are not between left and right, not between liberal and conservative. It’s between practical and ideological, reasonable and absurd. If it is Obama who will save the conservatism from its impostors, so be it.
4 thoughts on “Conservatism reduction to the absurd.”
The nut jobs are just lap dogs for the well-heeled John Birchers, and always will be, they’ve taken the blue pill and they’re happy.
Even though Obama has smartly taken on the cloak of Bill Clinton style politics, as you said, he governs as a “center-right” president. Is that why he was elected? Is this the most change we can count on? I’m sure he fantasizes being the black FDR, but unlike FDR he doesn’t have the balls to challenge the ruling class.
It’s clear that your former employers are still the “Masters of the Universe” and this is the change we need…
David, I’d love for him to be center-left, but I think the country over the last few decades have been moved so far to the right that the only way to move it closer to the center is one step at a time. I have no doubt he would love to have a single payer health insurance, put a few Wall Street villains behind bars, install stricter regulation, but he has to play the cards he’s been dealt and prioritize. He has an upper hand now, but he hasn’t had such a good position during his first term and he genuinely, in my opinion, tried to play nice with the other side only to be snubbed. I criticized him plenty for it on this very blog and I think he finally got the message (not from me, but from more prominent voices). Wall Street despises him and now that they didn’t get the guy they want will be forced to go to him hat in hand. In the coming 4 years, without having to worry about reelection, I do expect to see a much more emboldened Obama, but I will not hesitate to criticise him where it’s due.
I hope that your more reasoned, and optimistic, opinion prevails and look forward to having been too skeptical.
But right or wrong, you’re always a good read.