Friday, April 01, 2011

Advice for the Republicans

Yes, I know it's dangerous to give political advice. Yes, I know it's particularly dangerous for an anarchist to give political advice, and it's doubling down on danger for someone to give political advice to a political party that anyone who bothers to notice knows damn well he will never, ever, ever support.

But I'm going to do it anyway. And to be fair, the advice I'm going to give to the Republican caucus in the US House of Representatives goes all the way back to 1995 and explains why I finally decided the GOP could never, ever, ever be my party of choice.

Here's the advice: Take ownership of the "government shutdown" issue.

Every time this thing comes up, the Democrats run the table. They raise the roof over "draconian" cuts in government spending. They say the Republicans want to take away the geezers' Social Security checks. They say it's personal petulance (remember the "this is all about Newt Gingrich feeling left out on Air Force One" meme in 1995?).

The Democrats get away with it because Republicans bend over backward trying to "look reasonable" and "craft compromises" and end up playing the losing end of the blame game -- so much so this time around that their starting proposal for budget cuts came to less than 1/25th of the projected deficit. Not 1/25th of the spending, 1/25th of the over-spending. As of right now, the number being thrown around the smoke-filled room is about half that much. That's not draconian, it's the punch line to a bad joke.

If the Republicans want to come out ahead in this show, John Boehner needs to strap on some balls and stop reading from the Democrats' pre-written script.

When the Democrats say the Republicans are the ones cruising for a shutdown, instead of doing the "I'm rubber, you're glue" bit, he needs to say "you're goddamn right we are. We're going to turn this thing in the right direction, or we're going to grind it to a halt."

When the Democrats complain that the Republican House isn't "working with" the president, Boehner needs to point out that contra George W. Bush, the president isn't the "decider," Congress is, and that the executive branch is there to execute what Congress legislates, with the money the House appropriates.

Boehner might want to add that while the president has resort to the veto for exceptional cases, and is of course welcome to courteously communicate his intention to use that veto if he sees it coming, for the most part he should probably keep his piehole shut and patiently await Congress's instructions. If they want his suggestions, they'll let him know.

That's how the Republicans win this thing. Not that I expect them to do anything substantially worth doing if they do win it, but I can't help but be embarrassed for them every time they let themselves get rolled like this.

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