Winning?

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August 1, 2011 by jamesessj

I truly don’t understand where many conservatives are coming from — well, I understand where they’re coming from, but I don’t understand why they don’t understand that the House of Representatives cannot rule the country by fiat.  Is the debt deal the best of all possible worlds?  Of course not.  No deal that has to pass muster with 535 human beings (536, counting the president) is ever going to be the best of all possible worlds.  (Not even if all 536 of them were as conservative as we’d like them to be — there will always be something, somewhere about which to grouse.)  So unless we want to change our system of government over to a dictatorship, I suggest we re-read the Constitution, to which we all claim to be devoted, and remind ourselves that there are, in addition to the House, a Senate and a president.

The argument from conservatives seems to be, The Republicans didn’t realize how much leverage they had.  Perhaps they didn’t.  But many of them — and this was evident in the comments over the past few weeks of, for instance, Brit Hume and Charles Krauthammer — live with the horrific memory of 1995, when they were certain (in the aftermath of the 1994 landslide) the country was on their side, but, as it turned out, a few closed buildings and missed checks were quite enough to change, with great rapidity, the public’s mind.  Obama is no Clinton, and Boehner is no Gingrich, and these are very different times; but once burned, twice shy, as it were…the Republican leadership, I’m convinced, was never going to allow this crisis to stretch past August 2nd.

A wise strategy, in my opinion, for once the deadline had come and gone, Obama would have held all the cards — he could direct money when and where he wished, and when called on it, he could always say, If it weren’t for the Republicans I wouldn’t have to be choosing when and where to direct money.  I don’t for a moment believe he’d have gotten away with it as Clinton did, but why take the chance?  The man is on the ropes, at this point all but a certain loser next year, so why commit an unforced error?  Let the economy remain Obama’s.  Don’t let him drag Republicans into sharing the blame.

(Which is not to say that I believe there’d have been a cataclysm tomorrow if there’d been no deal, but rather that, no matter what bad news may have hit from tomorrow forward, Obama would have blamed Republicans for it — and the media, lapdogs that they are, would have parroted the rhetoric, and a narrative would have been established that this economy is now just as much owned by the Republicans as by Obama.  You may refer to this as “negotiating from fear,” but I prefer to think of it as “living in the real world.”)

I understand the continuing frustration conservatives feel, that what amount to meager cuts are being portrayed as massive, and that nothing much is done in this deal about entitlements, but, to repeat an earlier post, you fix this problem by electing more conservatives.  The election of 2010 was not a referendum on the question, “Do conservatives get everything they want right now?”  It was a Congressional election, in which conservatives did amazingly well — and compared to where this country was two years ago, legislatively speaking, the election did indeed cause a complete about-face.  This is progress.  It’s not the end of the journey, but for God’s sake, people, have just a tiny dollop of patience, would you?  Some of us are behaving like spoiled children.  Eyes wide open, that’s the conservative way, dammit.

Incidentally, the liberal reaction to this deal has been laughably over-the-top.  Paul Krugman had a column up within nanoseconds spouting his usual brand of spend-spend-spend-SPEND-SPEND! (you could hardly do better than to pattern your political and economic philosophy on the dictum of, “The opposite of whatever Paul Krugman thinks”), and other New York Times columnists were just as apoplectic, if not moreso.  If they’re all agin it, as my grandmother would have said, I’m all fer it.  Which is not always the wisest of courses to take, but honestly, if liberals are that upset about it, doesn’t what we’ve accomplished come awfully close to what’s commonly called winning?

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the author, if he lives that long

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