The party that loves to imagine itself as John Wayne going it alone is in actuality a party so terrorized by their own base that they feel compelled to hide even considering actually doing their legislative jobs. They do this by whining about Obama constantly and claiming that Obama is forcing them to do things. This doesn’t exactly bring forth images of tough guys on the frontier. John Wayne never whined about the other guy. If you’re whining, you’re losing.
Republicans are on their Maryland retreat trying to find a way to save their party from the ever shrinking tent. In order to do that, they know they have to pass something regarding immigration reform and they can’t fail to pay the bills again by refusing to raise the debt limit.
Republicans simply can’t afford to be seen as the party that hates everyone anymore. They have to trick a few stragglers over with a conciliatory nod. As an example of this strategy in play, they used a woman to tell America that they are not waging war on women in a SOTU rebuttal. But the Hispanic community is not so easily tricked as the GOP base; they want policy over rhetoric. Some form of actual legislation must be passed. Labeling their hardship “freedom” isn’t going to work.
Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro reporting on the GOP retreat for NBC News this morning concluded that the Republicans appear “poised to move on at least two key issues — the debt ceiling and immigration.” According to their report, Speaker Boehner did his usual talk tough about President Obama while whinging about how everything is Obama’s fault, but underneath this “hot rhetoric” meant to appease the base, Republicans won’t refuse to pay their bills this year. So that’s refreshing.
Other things they want to hide from their base? They appear poised to move on immigration (my bold):
Boehner isn’t alone in using this strategy of HOT rhetoric while quietly steering Republicans in another direction. Here was Rep. Paul Ryan on immigration yesterday to one of us: “You mentioned in your earlier remarks about the president going around Congress, about the president not enforcing the laws,” he said on “Daily Rundown” yesterday. “That’s a big concern of ours these days and as you can see from his statements, we have reason to be concerned, so we want to be sure that we write a law that he can’t avoid.” Translation: We can’t trust Obama to write immigration rules on his own. So, we’re going to work on a law that he’s stuck enforcing. The point we’re making: The rhetoric isn’t matching the action. They are ratcheting up their rhetoric regarding the president at the very time they’re close to finding common ground. This has become the standard operating procedure for getting things done in this political era. If Ryan simply started moving toward the Democrats and White House on immigration, it could light talk radio up and burn him and the GOP leadership. So he has to make it look like they are boxed in and the only way out is writing their own slightly tougher compromise law.
“He has to make it look like they are boxed in…”
This is another reason why we hear nothing from Republicans but whining about President Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi. They often seem to be crying that the superhero Democratic trio is so powerful that Republicans are just impotent to do anything against them. And yet, when Republicans really, really want something, they just shut the government down. They’ve also managed to propose and pass plenty of legislation restricting women’s freedom in the Republican-led House.
Sure, the Senate keeps the tea crazy from becoming law, but the point is that Republicans run the House. They only bring up legislation that the majority wants, so if the majority (Republicans) wanted to pass immigration reform at any time, they could have. They haven’t done so because they are too fractured within their own party, and by fractured, I mean incapable of standing up to Tea Party. Just like John Wayne.
The real issue is that it’s an election year but Republicans are trying to map out a strategy for 2016 at the same time. They have to appeal to their base this year, but broaden the tent for 2016. Republicans are trying to walk the ever more precarious tight rope between their extreme, jihadist base — conditioned on a daily diet of relentless Obama hate and frothing contempt for governing — and the rest of the country. And by “rest of the country”, I mean the voters who are taken aback by what the GOP has become.
So Republicans are going to try to keep feeding the base their hate crack, but secretly work with Democrats to pass just enough that they can’t be labeled the party that hates everyone, refuses to pay its bills, and is deliberately stopping the economic recovery. If you’re looking for courage or integrity, best look elsewhere.
Update 12:08PM: It’s too late. Republicans have been busted by a very angry Ann Coulter, whose article entitled “GOP CRAFTS PLAN TO WRECK THE COUNTRY, LOSE VOTERS” is now trending.