Ever since Barack Obama took the office of president in January 2009, the response from the Republican Party has been to “just say no.” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) actually put it rather blatantly last year saying that his “Job #1” is to make President Obama a one-term president.
Whatever Obama has asked—whatever the Democrats have proposed—the Republicans have had to be against it, not on principle (necessarily), but on politics. Even when that has meant reversing long-held positions on important policy issues, if Obama and the Democrats want it, the Republicans find a way to say “no.” I am certain that if Obama walked into Rep. Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) office tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. and said “good morning,” Cantor would insist that it’s night.
Which brings me to the debt ceiling debate and Obama’s $4 trillion proposal—a proposal, by the way that would have given the Republicans trillions in spending cuts—along with some increases in revenue. The Republicans, refusing to even entertain the idea of increased revenue from by eliminating loopholes and tax reform, naturally had to “say no.” It’s a non-starter, because God forbid, the economy might turn a corner on Obama’s watch. And then 2012? Well, there’s always the coming Apocalypse.
So the Republicans look like a bunch of curmudgeons who will take their ball and go home unless they get everything they’ve put on the table, walk away, figuring out a way they can take the debt-ceiling crisis—one they’ve created by obstructing it in the first place—and turn it somehow against President Obama. The economy, they cry, is in a shambles. The government needs to much spend less, they moan. Obama has ruined the economy (like it was in such good shape when he took office). It’s a huge crisis; we’re on the brink of ruin! But apparently not so much that it can’t wait a year or two. After all, it’s not as important as Job #1.
Because, remember, as McConnell said, Job #1 is to depose the president come 2012. As he said this week on Laura Ingraham’s show, “My first choice was to do something important for the country. But my second obligation is to my party and my conference to prevent them from being sucked into a horrible position politically that would allow the president, probably, to get reelected because we didn’t handle this difficult situation correctly.” Except, apparently he’s got the priority reversed, as has become abundantly clear over the last couple of days.
Politics before policy. Forget about compromise if political gains are to me made. Screw the economy; screw the people; screw the country.
It’s all about power. Governance means compromise, but when one party refuses—not for policy issues, but for purely political reasons, it’s simply irresponsible. Machiavelli would be proud.