Friday, October 11, 2013

Michael Kinsley is an idiot, appeasing the Republicans would be a disaster

By Michael J.W. Stickings

One-time liberal wunderkind Michael Kinsley hasn't been worth reading in, like, forever. But yesterday at the New Republic, which also used to be worth reading, he really outdid himself with his inanity.

I only know this because his stupid piece has been making the rounds. Yes, it is so inane that Kinsley is finally worth talking about again, if only to wonder at the enormity of his inanity.

In brief, Kinsley argues that President Obama should give in. It's not that he, a liberal, sides with the Republicans over the shutdown and debt ceiling, just that the president should do what he has to do for the good of the country.

He says the president should "speak to the nation" and tell Americans, while pinning the blame for this whole mess on the Republicans, that he'll agree to a one-year postponement of Obamacare in return for a debt ceiling increase that would last a year and of course for the government to reopen.

Yes, forget the polls showing how the shutdown is hurting the Republicans, and forget the fact that Republicans are already caving, desperately looking for a way out. Kinsley wants the president to reward the Republicans for their far-right-wing ideological extremism, hyper-partisanship, Tea Party fervor, and hostage-taking ways by giving them what they want. (Because, of course, the only way to ensure peace in Europe was to give you-know-who what he wanted.)

It's one thing to think outside the box, to be a contrarian, quite another to be a complete idiot. As Scott Lemieux wrote in response:

Kinsley's argument is that Obama should surrender to Republican extortion. When you see the premise, you might expect him to make a bad but at least vaguely defensible argument, like "Obama should give Republicans some token face-saving concession to save the economy." I think that would still be wrong, because even a token concession would make debt ceiling extortion a permanent feature of the American political system and hence eventually produce a default anyway, but I can at least see an argument there. Kinsley, however, argues that Obama should just pay the Republican ransom and undermine his signature domestic policy achievement in exchange for nothing...

This is, as far as I can tell, not meant as a joke. Kinsley quite seriously seems to believe that House Republicans will be chastened by national public opinion polls not to pursue a strategy that won them major unreciprocated policy concessions, the complete inconsistency with the actual behavior of the actually existing Republican Party notwithstanding. One could point out the fact that most House Republicans are in safe seats regardless of the national standing of the party, that the urban concentration of the Democrats means that Republicans can lose the national vote badly and still retain a majority (for this to happen you have to go all the way back to… 2012,) that the house Republicans most threatened by the massive unpopularity of the party are the dwindling group of "moderates" who are abjectly useless but aren't driving the bus, etc. etc… but it doesn't matter. Kinsley doesn't know much about contemporary American politics, and he doesn't care that he doesn't know.

And yet he still gets published in fairly respectable places, and I suppose some people still take him seriously, even when he provides terrible analysis and offers even more terrible advice.

Let's all just go back to ignoring him again.

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