Thursday, December 27, 2012


Last week, we were wondering if we could completely avoid "The Fiscal Cliff". Earlier today, news broke that the House will reconvene on Sunday. So is a deal finally in the works?

Not so fast. Even as the House returns, Speaker John Boehner (R-Agent Orange) still can't really get it together. Basically, he's now throwing a temper tantrum and demanding that Harry Reid provide him a "political bailout". And if you're still wondering why this is, read what Steve Kornacki posted this morning.

The twist in the Obama-era is that some of the conservative backlash has been directed inward. This is because the right needed a way to explain how a far-left anti-American ideologue like Obama could have won 53 percent of the popular vote and 365 electoral votes in 2008. What they settled on was an indictment of George W. Bush’s big government conservatism; the idea, basically, was that Bush had given their movement a bad name with his big spending and massive deficits, angering the masses and rendering them vulnerable to Obama’s deceptive charms. And the problem hadn’t just been Bush – it had been every Republican in office who’d abided his expansion of government, his deals with Democrats, his Wall Street bailout and all the rest.

Thus did the Tea Party movement represent a two-front war – one a conventional one against the Democratic president, and the other a new one against any “impure” Republicans. Besides a far-right ideology, the trait shared by most of the Tea Party candidates who have won high-profile primaries these past few years has been distance from what is perceived as the GOP establishment. Whether they identify with the Tea Party or not, conservative leaders, activists and voters have placed a real premium on ideological rigidity and outsider status; there’s no bigger sin than going to Washington and giving ground, even just an inch, to the Democrats. [...]

This is exactly what the Tea Party mindset produces. For one thing, the House GOP conference (and to a lesser extent, the Senate GOP) contains no shortage of Tea Party true-believers – men and women who embody the spirit of the movement and have no qualms about going to war with party leadership if they believe their principles are at risk. And they are backed by a conservative information complex – media outlets and personalities, commentators, activists and interest group leaders – ready to cast them as heroes in any fight with “the establishment.”

All of this is more than enough to instill real fear in Republicans on Capitol Hill who aren’t true believers – but who do like their jobs and want to keep them. McConnell falls in this category. Boehner evidently does too. And so do many, many other Republicans who don’t want to look back and regret the day they cast a vote that ended their careers. The fact that the Tea Party, as a literal entity, seems to be dying is actually a sign of how successful it’s been. Its spirit now rules the Republican Party.

Long story short: Boehner wants to keep his gavel. And he fears any "unsavory deal-making" with Democrats will lead to his political demise. Yet if he lets America fall off "The Fiscal Cliff", he may still face political demise. So right now, he wants some kind of "Deus ex machina" to swoop in and save him.

And right now, rational Americans just want to avoid an unnecessary "double-dip recession". So will there be a deal? That may very well depend on whether Harry Reid (or really anyone, for that matter) can convince John Boehner that it's best for everyone that he avoids "cliff diving" at any and all costs. But so far, it looks like Boehner is putting petty politics above any kind of necessary policy solution.

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