Thursday, October 10, 2013

Losing badly, Republicans look desperately for a way out of their self-made political crisis

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Gotta love these headlines and what they, and the articles below them, say about the current state of the Republican Party:

-- New York Times: "As Pressure Mounts, House G.O.P. Weighs Short-Term Debt Deal";

-- The Hill: "House GOP 'negotiators' to meet Obama";

-- Washington Post: "Key Republicans signal willingness to back down on effort to defund health-care law"; 

-- Politico: "GOP quietly backing away from Obamacare"; and

-- Politico: "GOP unity frays, frustration builds."

And the divisions on the right, among conservatives and key Republican stakeholders, are only deepening. Consider, for example, John Podhoretz's piece, "Suicide of the Right." (Forget that Republicans across the board are responsible for the rise of the Tea Party and the GOP's ongoing move to the ever further right.) Consider also these:

-- NBC News: "Kochs to Congress: Focus on spending, not Obamacare"; and

-- Huffington Post: "Heritage Action Bails On Debt Ceiling Fight." 

Even Paul Ryan is caving, distancing himself from the Obamacare defunding nonsense and, while obviously remaining unabashedly partisan and self-promotional, advocating (Republican-friendly) compromise that is rather more conciliatory than anything we've seen from him before.

Republicans obviously still think they can get out of this with some of their demands met, and thus far there's no indication they're genuinely willing to negotiate in good faith.

But the simple fact is that the government shutdown, with the fight over the debt ceiling coming up next, has been an utter disaster for them.

Obamacare is in place and fairly popular, Americans blame them for the shutdown (as they should), and no one other than Tea Party crazies wants the U.S. to go into default on its debt, not least the Republican Party's establishment business interests, which are growing more and more concerned by the day.

The crazies don't get this, and don't care, but the more pragmatic among them (Boehner, Ryan, etc.) realize what's going on and are desperate to extricate themselves and their party from their current predicament. So they're talking about a supercommittee and sending negotiators to the White House and quietly, lest the rabid base find out, taking Obamacare off the table.

We'll see how this all plays out, and personally I'm still concerned that the president will give up way too much for the sake of compromise, but from all that's going on right now and from all that's being said, a lot of it under the radar, it's clear the Republicans are just trying to find a way to avoid losing even more badly than they are now.

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