Why Lindsey's gambit didn't work
Josh Marshall on the shutdown strategy:
It’s amazing how quickly conventional wisdom can congeal. It’s even more amazing when it plays to Democrats’ habit of garment-rending and self-flagellation. This morning I read this in the lede of The Washington Post‘s Daily 202.
Seven takeaways from the failed Democratic government shutdown: The Resistance will struggle when it tries to replicate the tactics of the tea party movement. The left learned with its failed shutdown gambit that it cannot beat President Trump by copying the same playbook that the right used against Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.Good Lord, people.
A number of author James Hohmann’s takeaways have merit. The fact that Democrats believe in government and have constituencies who depend on it, both as federal employees and beneficiaries, makes the dynamics of the shutdown waiting game inherently different and more difficult for Democrats. This is certainly a disappointment. Democrats have essentially agreed to punt and come back to the same challenge in three weeks. Democratic self-flagellation gives President Trump an opening for bragging and chortling. None of that is fun.
But the takeaway here is wrong. I don’t think it’s right to see this as Democrats trying to replicate the Tea Party playbook. They could try that. Many Democrats would like to see them try it. But they actually haven’t. The particular dynamics of the Senate mean that Republicans require 60 votes for some budgetary legislation. (The only reason they needed it in this case was because they wanted to pass their tax cut with 50 votes.) But look at the alternative. If your takeaway here is that Democrats were trying to shut down the government what you’re really saying is that Democrats must vote yes on any continuing resolution no matter what is contained in it. That is obviously an untenable position. What we’re losing sight of here is that, yes, Republicans control the entire federal government. This amounted to legislative hostage taking in reverse.
He's correct. The nihilist all-or-nothing Tea Party strategy doesn't work for Democrats fora variety of reasons and that is not what the Dems were trying. They were trying to divide and conquer by separating Trump (and his base) from the hardliners by getting him to back a deal that would make the Freedom Caucus have to beat him or join him.
Lindsey Graham convinced them that since the one thing Trump has credibility on is his loathing for immigrants, if thy could get Trump on board he could persuade the Tea party right that helping the DACA kids wasn't really "amnesty." (I don't know if Trump really has that kind of juice with the anti-immigrant far right but it was worth a try.)
When Trump said that he'd "take the heat" for making a bipartisan deal, that's what everyone hoped would happen. If it didn't, the hardliners would prevail as they have since 2006 and the DREAM kids were going to be out of luck.
As we all know, Trump blew up the bipartisan deal in the shithole meeting and that was the end of that.
The right wing still has veto power over any immigration deal. There was some hope that maybe, if we were lucky, Donald Trump could be cajoled into being a hero and helping out those kids but he's a hardliner himself and a fucking moron to boot so it was easy for the xenophobes in his circle to convince him to ping pong back and forth. Schumer anted up the wall and even got Luis Gutierrez to gulp hard and go along with it in order to make a deal for DACA. They came back with more untenable demands.
And they will keep making demands because they do not really want a deal. They want to deport as many immigrants as they can, including these kids who have helpfully given the government all the information it needs to round them up when they get the chance.
I don't know how to fix this as long as these xenophobic wingnuts have veto power and a raging imbecile is in the White House. ( Remember, Obama had to do DACA because he couldn't get the congress to do anything about it.) Maybe the Republicans will have some kind of "come to Jesus" moment if they lose in November but honestly, that's not how they usually operate. It's possible that Trump could be corralled in some way into moving his base but he ran on mass deportation, walls and immigration bans so it's hard for me to see how that happens. Graham made the effort and it didn't get him anywhere. Maybe someone else would have more luck but who?
Maybe the Democrats will give them everything they can possibly think of until they run out of demands and have to give up on their desire to deport the DREAM kids. Maybe the GOP will see the light if Democrats shut down the government until the election in November. I hope something happens to shake this all up in a way that will make them do the right thing.
The country is in the hands of a virulent xenophobic and racist political movement. It is a nightmare from which we will not wake up until at least November --- and even then the fight will just be beginning.