Doc Cleveland: JFK's Birthday
I have just had knee surgery and the drugs have induced a hub of the universe mental state which last time around produced my piece, "Jamie Dimon as William Holden"---which received my own unanimous favorable ratings.
As master-hub-man I have been trying to put the Newtown tragedy, the fiscal cliff, the stories about Hagel, Rice and Kerry and the odds that we may yet have a Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts all into a neat matrix. Two articles today helped me illuminate everything. The NYT article by Michael Shear predicting very tough sledding for Obama; and Nate Silver's arithmetical analysis of the House of Representatives. I cite these two articles because they are the two which I read. (Another Vicodin, please)
I think that the NYT piece is correct in its prediction that Obama will have a rough second term---because of realities such as the intransigence of the NRA, the Susan Rice defeat at the very get-go, and the clout of the small but determinative group of extremists in the House Republican caucus. But the good news is, in my opinion, that Republicans will continue to pistol whip each other and anyone else who doesn't agree with their views---views which are extremist and appeal to a shrinking audience....and thus:
A. Republicans lost the last election because the audience reflecting its stated, and largely extreme, values, (see the Republican party platform) has shrunk and continues to shrink.
B. Republicans are not changing their values, but are intensifying the ones they steadfastly exhibited in the lost election of 2012. To use the vernacular, they are "doubling down". In the meantime they are threatening to pistol whip each other---for example, should any "establishment" Republican go along with anything smacking of bi-partisanship, like actual tax hikes on the rich or an assault weapons' ban, they will be slaughtered by the Tea Party and the NRA in their next primary.
C. The Electorate is becoming ever more diverse, plus the groups which support Obama---minorities, single women, young ascendants---not to mention socially liberal business owners on a high---are increasing in numbers.
D. The arithmetic of the electorate makes the nature of Obama's sledding in the second term a moot issue because if the tax cuts expire and spending is reduced, things will be rough but the economics should be good by 2016 and result in a Democratic win---which, to me, is the ultimate good news.
But I hesitate to call "tough sledding" a moot issue because of the pain that gridlock may bring both to small businesses (like mine) and individuals who need a common sense government. Both will suffer the indignities of another recession if all the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire and the blunt instrument of the sequester cuts stalls the economy again. But I don't think Obama should allow the Republicans to continue to pistol whip the majority will of the country. As far as the pain Republicans are inflicting upon each other I can suggest an excellent drug.
What one must conclude from La Pierre's statements, if they go unchallenged, and the behavior of three dozen Congressmen, if they continue trying to hold the rest of us hostage---is simply that we ourselves lack courage. A society which cannot defeat minority bullying from the likes Eric Cantor, Grover Norquist, and La Pierre is a society truly weak at its core.
We can win the long game. But Republican intransigence is a fact of life. In the immediate term we should just go over the fiscal cliff if need be. And make Draconian budget cuts if necessary. And fight the NRA leadership whatever outcome may result. Capitulating to bullies and hostage-takers never works, it only encourages them. And capitulation results in something worse---a sense of helplessness as a society. That sense of helplessness is mother's milk both to a bully like La Pierre and to the saboteurs of reasonableness in Congress.