The "Look! Squirrel!" Strategy is a Very Bad Idea
I was planning to write a piece today on the recent Paul Ryan/Patty Murray budget deal that has the Tea Party wing of the GOP all up in arms. Unfortunately (No, actually, fortunately) Peter Wehner beat me to it.
I'll just add a few of my own thoughts, although I know I'm sure to irritate my Tea Party friends.
Some situational awareness would be nice. For once.
The GOP controls one house in one branch of the Federal government. The other relevant branches are held by the most economically profligate band of liberals this country has ever seen. The odds of somehow magically getting the Senate and President to go along with some kind of budget that, say, slashes half a trillion from the federal budget or, say, substantially reforms Federal entitlement programs is...
Glad to know you're in favor of fiscal responsibility. Thump your chest and deride all those notorious "RINOs" led by turncoat Paul Ryan. Monetize your outrage, waving your banner of "True" conservatism. That's fantastic. Hope you get lots of contributions. But I'd also like to know that you really inhabit space and time instead of Never Never Land.
Here's a thought. Liberalism's brand is currently a gigantic, flaming Hindenberg. The so-called "Affordable Care Act" is crashing and burning, and it is making millions of Americans very, very angry and, give it enough time, it'll include millions and millions more. Obama's approval ratings are now in Jimmy Carter territory. Most prognoses show that the odds are very against Democrats holding on to the Senate next November.
So, let me get this straight. This is your idea: Let's have another budget fight!? Yes, we've got 'em right where we want 'em. The American people are mad at Obama and, so, they're just sure to be with us this time. Let's throw down, all in, on another budget battle. Let's shut down the government again until Harry Reid and Barack Obama cave to our demands!
This is lunacy. This is a "Look! Squirrel!" strategy. And you're the squirrel.
The best thing that happened to the Democrat Party in 2013 is the budget battle/government shutdown. Obama's numbers bounced and he was enjoying very nice approval ratings. Do you know why? Because it gave the entire liberal media complex something to demonize in unison. Look at those evil Republicans! Holding the country hostage!
Thank you, Paul Ryan, for sparing us a massive, self-inflicted wound. I happen to believe that you did not negotiate a pretty-much status quo budget deal, kicking the can down the road, because you're a squish who likes the status quo. You picked a status quo deal because you know that the status quo will never change under the current leadership. And so you've saved the GOP from confusing a budget skirmish with the larger battle. That larger battle involves, ahem, winning elections.
When all eyes are on the flaming Lead Zeppelin known as Obamacare, the very last thing on the list of things to do should be shouting to media onlookers: "Hey, Look! Anarchist Evil Republicans are trying to shut down the government again!"
Why don't we plan on using the political fallout of this disaster to, you know, win some elections next year? Which might just result in, you know, solid majorities in both legislative houses, which might be the time when political fantasies have some chance of becoming realities.
Everyone focuses on stupid things like, "Do you know the budget only reduces the deficit by $60 Billion over the next ten years? Yep, that's unbelievably pathetic. But you know what? Budget projections over ten years are meaningless. The next Congress is not bound by such projections. They can, and will, do whatever they want.
I'm for there being a lot more conservatives there, in both the House and the Senate, when they do. Really: Thank you, Paul Ryan, for helping make that happen. Helping a lot more than your detractors, frankly.