End of Days for the Bubble-Saurii.

NEW SLAUGHTERAlong with the strategies, tactics and rhetoric, this whole shutdown/default crisis is a fascinating moral drama, at least for President Obama.

His level of exasperation with Republican malfeasance and ineptitude was pretty evident in his press conference yesterday, and mirrors what the public is saying in polls. You saw today’s? Where Congressional approval has hit … 5%? Scrape away a bit and you’ll find that number is an overwhelming condemnation of the Tea Party factor.

Obama certainly knows — and said — that we can’t go on like this, with the same bunch of “neo-confederates” (TM former Republican staffer Mike Lofgren) ginning up a national crisis every three months. I suspect he is factoring that into his thinking talk of a “deal” that kicks this can a month down the road. Why do that? What does that really serve? At some point enough has to be enough, and the public at large is clearly on board with that line of thought.

The GOP’s self-acclaimed “brain guy”, Paul Ryan, is now arguing in effect that “negotiations” will suffice as a “win” for the GOP in this mess, pointedly excluding any reference to Obamacare at all. (Shades of Emily Litella … “Never mind.”)  But do “negotiations” mean renewing the cycle of extortion under a different banner?  Obama has to be intensely skeptical that the GOP has the means to put an end to its own public immolation, which is to say the persistent fear and uncertainty its insurgent Tea Party caucus keeps throwing up against economic recovery.

This has to stop.

His dilemma though lies in playing this fiasco out to a fiery end. Much as he smells an opportunity to reduce the GOP to a non-factor even in off-year elections, Obama — unlike Ted Cruz — has a moral/Constitutional obligation to remain the adult in the room no matter what. Against a tide of fools and cowards he must protect the US and world economies from an unprecedented financial body blow. Put another way, the effects of a credit default would be so devastating, and directly attributable to the GOP, it could very well flush away the party’s House majority in 2014 and give Obama two years to re-set proper governance before handing off to the next president — which given the GOP’s complete and utter inability to address immigration, women’s issues and their role in perpetrating yet another financial catastrophe — would almost certainly be a Democrat.

But even if the effects of a default prove less than what top economists and Wall St. pros are talking about — another 1600-2000 drop in the Dow, (beyond the 1000 it has already dropped), a doubling of interest rates on home loans and cars — how does Obama, morally, consent to so great an unknown? Moreover, he has to assume that if he does the decent, adult thing and throws John Boehner a lifeline — a promise to whack the Medical Device Tax or some transparently bogus face-saving gimmick  — Boehner is so weak and incompetent he’ll be back in three months fighting another Tea Party fight.

Obama also understands that he is up against a Constitutional dilemma in terms of acceding to minority rule, and that the final solution to this insurgency lies only in, as I say, a devastating and unequivocal defeat for the Tea Party movement … which, quite ironically, would also be the biggest gift he could ever give both Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

Who exactly the Tea Party is, and what they believe, was on display (again) in a survey conducted this summer and fall by Democracy Corps, a James Carville-Stan Greenberg operation.

The picture is fundamentally unchanged, although arguably even more radicalized since 2010. The Tea Party is overwhelmingly white, rural, primarily Southern, and powerfully motivated by Evangelical notions of cultural collapse. Which is not to say religion is the sole driving force. Antipathies toward minorities, intellectual elites and, ironically, the affluent, have merely driven Evangelicals toward the Tea Party, which they see as the best vehicle available for doing battle with ruinous liberalism, otherwise known as modernity.

The essential analysis is that the personality fueling the Tea Party, (i.e. controlling the GOP and having a calamitous effect on the nation), feels deeply marginalized and fearful of being “disrespected” in a rapidly evolving culture. The Tea Partier knows he is being left behind. His days of unimpeded white exceptionalism are very quickly coming to an end. He can see it in any big city and all over the media. The irony that his hysteria and startling ignorance of how the economy and Constitution actually operate, mixed with his very high resistance to the facts of human-caused climate change, and the rapidly evolving acceptance of gay rights and gun control is only accelerating his marginalization is completely lost on him.

He is a dinosaur living out his days in thinnest of protective bubbles.

The report doesn’t wade into the gerrymandering issue, so it doesn’t offer any fresh insights into the rarely-discussed reality that farther-than-far right candidates are a bona fide threat to “conservative moderates” only because of massive infusions of money from … well, the usual suspects, all of whom are abetted by Citizens United.

Obama’s dilemma includes the knowledge that a Saul-on-the-road-to-Tarses epiphany is not in the average Tea Partier’s future. The Tea Partier’s  levels of fear and resentment are so high remorse is a psychological impossibility.

Obama’s strategy may well revolve around a blow so devastating to “rational conservatives” that those people become the ones who deliver the fatal rebuke to the Tea Party.

But in this morality game, Obama the stern-minded parson, must know that for those “moderate conservatives” to act, they must first pay a serious, unequivocal price for their craven enabling of a group intent not just on destroying Barack Obama, but the Republican party as well.

47 thoughts on “End of Days for the Bubble-Saurii.

    1. PM says:

      Bertram:

      Makers Mark?

      There are far better bourbons, at a fraction of the price. Personally, i like the Four Roses Small Batch.

  1. bertram jr. says:

    From NPR: “Most Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job, the poll suggests, with 53 percent unhappy with his performance and 37 percent approving of it.”

    That’s a 37% approval rating, Bri.

    Surely even you must face reality at some point.

  2. PM says:

    Good post, Brian.

    The nihilism of the GOP opposition is simply astounding. They got into this fight because they wanted to fight–they no longer are mentioning their opposition to the ACA, now they simply want to force Obama to negotiate–something he has said that he would be willing to do from the very beginning. They want to “score points”, they refuse to surrender, they have no frigging clue what they want, they just don’t like what they see happening to their country.

    I am glad you brought in both the Lofgren and Democracy Corps stuff on the nature of the GOP opposition. At the bottom, it is not much more than inchoate opposition to change, and an African American community organizer from Chicago who only served a single term as a Senator prior to being elected as President appears to them to embody everything that is wrong/changing with this country.

    It is one thing to stand by and watch them self-immolate, but they are also threatening to bring down the country with them. They simply can’t seem to understand that they are now the minority–they only control one of the three branches of elective national government in this country.

    The one part you left out (for the sake of brevity, i am sure) is the epistemic closure of the GOP, and how that echo chamber only makes their problem worse. They simply do not have a clue. The Emperor has no clothes, and there is no one there willing to speak truth to power.

  3. PM says:

    So the GOP is the most unpopular party EVER, according to Gallup, and now we have Erick Erikson talking about the need for a third party, because the leaders in the GOP are betraying conservatives…..

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/erick-erickson-predicts-real-third-party-movement-to-divide-gop

    And all over the ACA.

    Seriously, i expect that by the time the 2016 Presidential elections come around that Obamacare will be a total non-issue. It will be up and functioning well and there will be no sky falling. In fact, I expect that it will be seen as a positive economic development.

    But i doubt that what is left of the Tea Party will care…..much less acknowledge those awkward facts.

    1. I love Obama’s thinking on inviting all of the GOP House over. You gotta know he was laughing at the thought of that crowd breaking into a fight and him getting lectured by the likes of Steve King or Louie Gohmert on macro-economic issues.

      But the big news is the Koch brothers going public with saying they want nothing to do wit the shutdown — contrary to what the NYTimes reported and their $500k funding of Heritage’s Congressional puppetmasters.

      I think the Koch boys have done the math on what default does to their vast array of payments and investments.

      1. PM says:

        And doesn’t the fact that Boehner wouldn’t let all of the GOP House caucus go to the White House rather deliciously undermine Boehner’s claim that Obama wasn’t even talking to them?

        It looks to me as if the house and Boehner are in the slow process of caving in on their obstruction of government (continuing resolution/debt ceiling). So, the real question is what happens to those who tried to pick this Obamacare fight–Cruz, Lee, the Tea Party, Erickson, etc. Will they try to lead a revolt against Boehner? Will they try to start a third party? will they support or challenge Mitch McConnell? will they slowly become irrelevant? what will they do in the primaries leading up to 2016?

        1. I’ve long thought that a splintering of the GOP was an inevitability, and in fact the only “honorable” thing Tea Party Zealots could do. But I said that before they rolled over and played dead for Mitt Romney. As more of this latest Koch funding leaks out you can see how money was directed to a very grassroots/precinct captain level of the Tea Party. $1000 probably buys a lot of compliance with your local VFW bartender/Tea Party Patriot regional commander.

    1. Hmmmm. I’m unconvinced. If gerrymandering had no impact why would big money groups push so hard for legislative majorities in re-districting years, and then litigate the re-drawing so aggressively?

      Also, Oberstar’s off-year 2010 defeat had far more to do with Democrats staying home and independents buying the argument that Oberstar “lost touch” with the common man. Likewise, Cravaack, in a presidential year, with a resurgent Democratic base, couldn’t hold up. But then Minnesota as usual left re-districting to an independent committee.

  4. bertram jr. says:

    Well, the Tea Party may appear “extreme” to the unable to focus…but they simply endorse a return to the Founding Principles.

    And adherance to the attendant documents.

    The folly lies in those self-esteemed ‘intelligentsia” who beliebve they are ‘above the fray’ or too smart for either party.

    In fact, we have a two party system, that isn’t going to change, and it is clear whose party the ‘independents’ need to move (back) to, lest we be further destroyed ass a country and a Republic by the socialist enemy within.

    In other news, how about that Megyn Kelly!

    1. PM says:

      Well, if you want to adhere to the Constitution, the only way to get rid of Obamacare is to repeal it, which requires a vote in the House, then a vote in the Senate, and then the signature of the President. And the GOP can’t do those things. So, to adhere to the Constitution, the GOP needs to accept that the ACA is the law of the land, and cooperate with it, until such time as they can muster the votes in both Houses of Congress to repeal it.

      Those are the founding principles of this country, and the Tea Party is obviously ignorant of them.

      The Tea Party is clearly unconstitutional.

      And Megyn Kelly is beautiful (but i hear that she is married).

      1. bertram jr. says:

        Well, I never mentioned OTraumacare, but I believe it will collapse under it’s own weight of incompetence and inefficiency.

  5. PM says:

    Here is a great article from Conor Friedersdorf on the role of Fox/conservative media in this whole mess:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/10/conservative-medias-tribal-loyalty-weakens-the-gop/280446/

    Seriously, the biggest weakness of the GOP is the echo chamber that they have constructed for themselves. The Democrats should be thankful that none of their efforts to create a left talk radio/television ever took off. Now the GOP is in the hands of a bunch of hucksters whose only concern is to make a buck, not to elect a party or impose an ideology. Politics as entertainment!!!

    1. I’m glad someone got around to this. The operative mentality really is identical. But there is at least one very significant difference. The old Birchers had no reason to believe they represented a majority of the country, or even a minority large enough to make a difference within the Republican party. Do we want to get into another discussion about who gave this group of chronic outliers reason to believe they were making valid arguments?

      1. PM says:

        Well, isn’t the answer to your (rhetorical) question to be found in the GOP echo chamber? They do not hear anything to contradict this belief (except the bleatings of commies and muslims and libtards and the MSM, and we all know that those are not legitimate…..).

      1. … and Krugman: “Despite denials from Republican leaders, everyone I talk to believes that it would be easy to pass both a continuing resolution, reopening the government, and an increase in the debt ceiling, averting default, if only such measures were brought to the House floor. How? The answer is, they would get support from just about all Democrats plus some Republicans, mainly relatively moderate non-Southerners. As I said, Dixiecrats in reverse.

        The problem is that John Boehner, the speaker of the House, won’t allow such votes, because he’s afraid of the backlash from his party’s radicals. Which points to a broader conclusion: The biggest problem we as a nation face right now is not the extremism of Republican radicals, which is a given, but the cowardice of Republican non-extremists (it would be stretching to call them moderates).

        The question for the next few days is whether plunging markets and urgent appeals from big business will stiffen the non-extremists’ spines.”

          1. I’m fascinated with Boehner. What a predicament. This whole thing is in his hands. With a simple “let’s do it” he could order a vote and this insanity would end. Would the crazies demand his ouster? Maybe. And maybe they’d get it. Would the coalition of Democrats and “moderate” GOP reps be enough to keep him in his speakership? Unlikely, I think. But possible. But his place in history would be dramatically different/better than being forever known as the guy who was so fearful of his own personal fate he let the US government default. My suspicion is that it isn’t just his speakership he has to consider, but the unholy hell Jim De Mint and The Heritage Foundation and the other Tea Party bankrollers would inflict on anything he wanted to do post-Congress. With 50% of these guys leaving office and stepping in to lucrative lobbying jobs, Boehner has probably assumed such a future was his for the taking. But if he torpedoes this misadventure, the retaliation for him personally could be both severe and permanent.

            1. PM says:

              Seems to me that his taking the Senate measure to the floor and passing it with democratic votes would be a huge incentive to a Tea Party secession from the GOP.

              Yet his not doing so would be an invitation to economic turmoil.

              damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

              I expect the eventual book will be fascinating reading….

            2. Just for the hell of it … . Where do you think the Heritage, Senate Conservative Fund, Koch money would go if we had a GOP-Tea Party split?

              Without any tangible legislative authority, why would “smart money” bother with the Tea Party, when they could use the same bucks via SuperPACs vilifying Democrats?

            3. PM says:

              Well, the only reason you would fund a Tea Party (as a third party) would be if you thought you could take over as the official opposition. So, if you thought that the GOP was institutionally too weak to bring about the kind of “real change” that you thought the country needed, AND you felt that it would be quicker/cheaper/easier to oppose them (watch them crumble) as opposed to taking them over from within, then it would make sense.

              So ideologues would go for a Tea Party, but not the Chamber of Commerce/NFIB types (at least until they saw the GOP as ineffectual). Difference is if you just want to oppose the Democrats, or you want to really build an “opportunity society” (whatever that might be….). Look at it as a continuation of the long term movement away from the old East Coast/Country Club GOP of Rockefeller, etc. How else do you dump the McCains/Boehners of the Party?

              Koch’s are pretty ideological, and if they can fund the Tea Party breakaway surreptitiously (and they are pretty good at that) then i think they’ll do so.

              Wouldn’t it be funny if the Citizen’s United rulings (unlimited secret $$$) led to the death of the GOP at the hands of the Tea Party? Talk about unintended consequences…..

            4. That Esquire/NBC poll today gives old-style Republicans every reason to let the Tea Party nutters float out to sea. There’s plenty of “independents”, and I suspect most of them are open to an economic message that makes sense, especially to the middle class. But as we know, the GOP as currently constructed only pretends to care about middle class economics. The Tea Party has been, as I’ve often said, a collection of useful, raging fools for the monied interests. They have now out lived their purpose. The first “moderate” Republican to hold off a Tea Party challenge — possibly Mitch McConnell — will set a fateful precedent for the far right. Moreover, let’s not pretend the Tea Party goes very far down the road if it is deprived of very big, outside money. They better hope the Kochs, DeMint, etc. see them as the better alternative to a GOP rebuilding program.

            5. PM says:

              Brian: can you (or anyone, for that matter) explain to me why the Vitter Amendment–which gets rids of employee benefit subsidies to be used by Congressional staffers for healthcare under the ACA–seems so popular among the far right House members? Why is the Tea party clamoring for this?

            6. It has baffled me, because it, like so much else they’ve been throwing out doesn’t seem to make any sense, beyond symbolism. Here’s this: “As Matt Yglesias at Slate points out, this is more of a political gambit than thought out policy. But it sounds good politically. If it passes as a standalone, Republicans could claim a symbolic victory that strips out a government subsidy for fat cat politicians while Democrats would get the CR passed without any impact on Obamacare. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), who was elected as part of the Tea Party wave of 2010 told the Daily Beast that he would support a CR that only had the Vitter Amendment without delaying Obamacare.

              One Democratic congressman, who assumed that the CR would eventually passed with the Vitter Amendment alone, warned darkly of its consquences. He thought that eventually the subsidy would be restored for staff—but not for members. Once they had lost that benefit, it would be gone forever and make service in Washington DC far more costly. He shook his head sadly, saying a lot of members would retire and then only millionaires will be able to serve in Congress.”

              Again … not of the reality-based world.

            7. Can we safely diagnose Cruz as a sociopath? Based on his appeals to the rubes to display “courage” and “conviction” in defense of “principles” it would seem as though he HAS to make one final glorious stand. Some kind of flag-waving mumbo jumbo in the front of capitol would probably suffice. But if he actually attempts a stall on the Senate floor he truly is a fool.

            8. As I just posted, I couldn’t agree more.

              This part is especially good: “Most of the analysis has focused on the mind-boggling stupidity of Republicans in Congress, who blundered into a debacle that failed in exactly the way they were warned it would. The episode will be retold and fought over for years to come, perfectly emblemizing the party’s internal disorganization, mindless belligerence, and confinement within an ideological echo chamber that sealed out important warnings of failure.”

              In the aftermath, I’m waiting to see how Paul Ryan and the talk radio crowd paint Obama as “weak”.

  6. bertram jr. says:

    Bri- are you signed up yet? Are you happy with the ‘roll-out’?

    Does it match your expectation of a private sector initiative, or is it government control via ‘healthcare” manadate?

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