Immigration, the Affordable Care Act, impeachment, government shutdown, hearings over trumped up controversies- it looks like a turbulent winter ahead in Washington. Gazing at the landscape, CNN contributor Stephen Collinson writes
Republican anger is however masking a serious problem the party has yet to resolve: how to hit back at what it sees a presidential power grab.
Other than warning that Obama would "poison the well" for future cooperation, GOP leaders won't say whether they will use pending federal funding bills as leverage.
That route led to a damaging government shutdown for which the GOP paid a heavy political price last year.
Picking up three new governor seats, 350+ state legislative seats, 10+ seats in the House of Representatives and 9 (once Mary Landrieu is defeated in her runoff) in the US Senate- that's a heavy political price Republicans paid. Booman comments
Tell me, please, exactly how the GOP paid "a heavy political price" for shutting down the government and hurting our credit rating. They just had a huge victory in the Senate elections, the exact kind of statewide elections where politicians are supposed to be punished for pandering to the worst extremists in their party. They paid no political price and were, in fact, richly rewarded for their irresponsible behavior.
And if there is one single dominant reason for why the GOP got away with acting like five year-old bullies, it is because the media never mentioned their behavior in the 60 days leading up to the elections. If a tree falls in the forest and the only sound heard is about the Ebola virus and ISIS, then no one knows that a tree fell in the forest.
If the media had actually had a discussion about how a Republican-led Congress was likely to behave, then what's coming wouldn't be such a surprise to people.
Republicans got away with acting like spoiled brats also because arguably their most egregious act, shutting down the federal government, occurred a little over a year ago, which for the media is nearly an eternity and therefore of little interest to it.
In a moment of rare clarity, RedStates' Erick Erickson recognized "the GOP did not rebuild their image over the past ten months from a government shutdown. The GOP did absolutely nothing but run on 'we are not Obama.'" But then he argues
If that is the image they rebuilt, then they need to not be Obama and need to not fund Obama’s agenda.
So set the course. Defund Obamacare and block amnesty. Obama can defy the will of the people and refuse to work with Congress. Sure, the GOP may get blamed. But so what?
And that is key here — so what. They got blamed last time and the public rewarded them with the biggest election wave in modern American political history from the local level to the federal level.
Block Obama. Let him show himself again to be the petulant man-child Americans have started recognizing. And this time, when he shuts down the government, keep it shut till you have your way and then hold public hearings to show how Obama selectively shut things down to hurt the voters intentionally.
Erickson (has he ever realized the elder Mr. and Mrs. Erickson named him "Erick" as a goof?), observes Salon's Simon Maloy, "is explicitly advocating that the Republican Party deliberately cause people real pain, and then lie about it for political benefit." An influential conservative Republican blogger,he let slip a strategy which Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal also noted on Meet the Press:
CHUCK TODD: Very quickly on immigration. If the president goes through with his executive action, do you think Republicans and Capitol Hill ought to use even the power of shutting down the government to stop him from doing it?
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL: Two things. I don't think the president should shut down the government to try to break the Constitution. The reality is this. I do think the--
CHUCK TODD: You think the president would be shutting down the government?
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL: Oh, absolutely.
CHUCK TODD: So you do want Republicans to fight him on this to the point that it could shut down the government?
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL: Absolute-- I don't think the president should shut down the government.
CHUCK TODD: But you're twisting my question.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL: But wait, wait.
CHUCK TODD: That means you want that kind of showdown?
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL: Let's step back and understand what we're talking about. So the president said, "I want to break the law." He purposely said I’m going to wait till after the election, because I know it's not going to be popular to grant amnesty to millions of folks here that are here illegally. We had an election. He said his policies were on the ballot.
He lost in red states, purple states, blue states. The American people overwhelmingly rejected and rejected his policies. Now he's saying, "I'm still going to break the law." Talk about arrogance. This president used to say, "Elections have consequences." We're talking about how can the Congress force the president to follow the law?
I would expect even Democrats who may agree with him on substance, to say the right way to do this is to follow the Constitution, follow the law. No, we shouldn't shut down the government, but absolutely Republicans should do everything they can to force the president to follow the law. Let's secure the border. No, the president shouldn't shut down the government so that he can break the law.
"Many Republicans," Steve M. notes, "still insist that Democrats were to blame for the last government shutdown" and they "never seem to pay a price at the poll for this sort of thing -- but I guess they can't get out of the habit of trying to create their own facts."
Create their own facts they will. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, the fellow in charge of the House Select Committee to Conduct the Benghazi Witch-Hunt, told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly (relevant portion of video approximately 2:00 to 3:10) "nobody's discussing impeachment (and) the only people who want to talk about impeachment are the president's allies." He must have missed Charles Krauthammer (who would put out a contract on the life of anyone who accused him of being an Obama ally), maintaining an executive order on immigration "is an impeachable offense," or Arizona Representative Matt Salmon, who explicitly agreed with Krauthammer. Then there are Representatives Joe Barton of Texas, Ted Yoho of Florida, and Walter Jones of North Carolina, each of whom has raised the specter of impeachment if Obama acts unilaterally.
Gowdy takes dishonesty further. When O'Reilly asked Gowdy if Repubs would "go down that road in the House," Gowdy (having memorized his line well) replied "Have you met Joe Biden? is my response to that." (We all laughed.)
Now we know: Republicans think Joe Biden is a greater threat to civilization than is Barack Obama. And we thought it was because the GOP would not want in 2016 to face Biden as an incumbent president with a base energized because Barack Obama, popular with his party and the first black President, had been thrown out of office. And if Obama were impeached and (as likely) acquitted in the Senate, he probably would face a similar fate as that other recently impeached President, Bill Clinton, the most popular politician in the nation.
The GOP merely will toy with impeachment- doing the bare minimum necessary to convince the base it wants to get rid of him- and no more so as to appear as the voice of reason holding back the mob. Defunding the President's initiatives, even closing down the government, would be easier than convicting in the Senate a President impeached in the House. And it would have one other advantage, as Erickson clearly implied: it would be far more satisfying because it would hurt the country more than it would Obama.