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Sunday, September 27, 2015


Burning down the House

by Tom Sullivan

It is my habit to refer to the extremists as the T-party (not tea party or Tea Party), but I never explained why. It comes from the Sam Neill line from Jurassic Park.

Dr. Alan Grant: "T-Rex doesn't want to be fed. He wants to hunt."

In John Boehner, T-party just claimed another kill. If Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is any indication, T-party is still hungry:

“That’s one down, that’s 434 more to go,” said Jindal, a former congressman. “Folks, it is time to fire everybody in D.C.”

Frank Bruni comments on John Boehner's conflict with his "pathologically self-destructive party" over his reluctance to force another government shutdown has led to his demise as Speaker of the House:

Boehner’s looming departure and the rabid right-wing forces that led to it are part of a longer story, developing for years now. His exodus was foreshadowed and even foreordained by the political demise of Eric Cantor, who served under him as the House majority leader until someone more conservative toppled him in a Republican primary in 2014.

One of our two major political parties is hostage to an extreme subgroup that won’t brook compromise, values theatrical protests over actual governing and is adolescent in its ideological vanity.

Republicans, Bruni writes,

... have become the party of brinkmanship, the party of imminent credit defaults, the party of threatened shutdowns, the party that won’t pass a proper transportation bill, the party that is suddenly demonizing the Export-Import Bank, the party of “no,” the party of ire, the party that casts even someone as unquestionably conservative as John Boehner in the role of apostate, simply because he knows the difference between fights that can be won and those that can’t, between standing on principle and shooting yourself in the foot.

In one sense, Republicans are like the dog that caught the car. Catching it, they don't know what to do with it. A panelist at the Daily Kos Connects Asheville conference yesterday observed that Democrats had controlled the North Carolina legislature for 140 years until the T-party sweep in 2010. Democrats are still figuring out how to act as the minority party. Republicans, having finally caught the car, are in disarray. They don't know how to lead.

So it is, too, on the national stage, where the T-party has ousted Republican after Republican for not being conservative enough. But other than eating their own and throwing sand in the gears of government, what else have they accomplished?

Bruni continues:

Republicans were supposed to show themselves to be grown-ups, but the current leader of the pack, Trump, does a dead-on impersonation of a defensive, insecure schoolyard bully.

There is a lot of wishful thinking among the Beltway press and less-insane GOP members that Trump will fade, but maybe he won't. Trump is still dominating the GOP field. For a T-party that wants to fire everybody, Mr. "You're fired!" seems like just the man for the job.

That's why when people ask me who I support for president, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, I tell them I don't care. So long as the T-party controls state legislatures and the Congress, who Democrats elect as president won't matter. If it's Bernie, a GOP-led Congress will stonewall. If it's Hillary, a GOP-led Congress will stonewall. Just as they have done with Obama. I care deeply that someone from the saner side of the aisle gets the next three Supreme Court picks. (Good luck getting them past a T-party Senate.) Other than that, I can't get excited about who will do the picking, so long as the candidate sends lawyers, guns and money to North Carolina. That is where my fight is.

A Bernie Sanders supporter asked yesterday, but what about coattails? Coattails, I cannot quantify. State legislative seats and U.S. House and Senate seats I can count.

It seems the GOP's base knows that long-term demographic trends are against them. Here, it seems the T-party legislature is determined to ram through every piece of fringe, ALEC, tax-cutting, privatizing, education-slashing, and voter-suppressing measure it can before the public turns against them. I have long said that the Republican Party is acting out one of those dreary murder ballads with America. If they cannot have America for their own, they just might burn it down. John Boehner can relate. That is why Digby quoted Rick Perlstein yesterday: "Take demagogues seriously. Voters love them. And they're only a joke until they win."

I took her by her lily white hand
And dragged her down that bank of sand
There I throwed her in to drown
I watched her as she floated down

"Was walking home tween twelve and one
Thinkin' of what I had done
I killed a girl, my love you see
Because she would not marry me

- from "Banks Of The Ohio" (traditional)

They love their country — it's THEIR country — and if they can't have her, nobody can.

Inside Beltway salons, that simply doesn't compute.