Speaker Boehner has buckled to the forces of unreason and agreed to put forward a continuing resolution to fund the government that also defunds Obamacare, despite the fact that this has approximately as much chance of becoming law as I do of becoming NBA MVP. Jamelle Bouie sees in this latest development yet more evidence of a GOP stuck in a self-defeating feedback loop of awfulness:
It’s a striking dynamic. Thanks to its fanatical base, the GOP is unable to move forward and improve its image. Instead, it’s stuck in an endless loop of stunts and confrontations, each one sapping its strength and appeal, and setting it up for another poor showing with voters who are tired of the nonsense.
Part of me wants to play the fatalist contrarian and note that, due to redistricting — and the fact that during off-year elections, the Party that holds the White House almost always loses seats — the likelihood that House Republicans will actually suffer the consequences of their stubbornness is low. And another part of me wants to say, “Now, wait a minute. House Republicans aren’t cemented into their current seats; a wave election could pry many of them loose,” which is true, too.
But as I’ve discussed earlier, the idea that a shutdown would doom the GOP seems to me to be a stretch. I don’t doubt the conventional wisdom that says a shutdown will, like the last one, prove a mistake for Republicans. But the midterm is quite a ways away, still, and the public’s memory tends to be simple and short. It’s not impossible that a shutdown is seen by many as a sign of Obama’s weak leadership, for example. There is no guarantee.
What this means is that public opinion, while significant, is not going to play the God-like role that we, living in a nominal democracy, tend to assume it will. It won’t swoop down from the heavens and smite recalcitrant conservatives. It won’t rise from the bottom and lift up moderates and Democrats. It’s more likely to simply hover over the proceedings, spreading a vague, malaise-like discontent. More of the same from the past three years, basically.
In that circumstance, internal Party dynamics will remain the most decisive factor in how what little work that gets done gets done, which means that — unless Boehner abandons the Hastert Rule — a minority of Tea Partying House Republicans will still wield an effective veto over policy. Brian Beutler continues to insist that a shutdown won’t happen; or that if it does it’ll be a shutdown in name only, a mere consequence of the runout of the legislative clock. Maybe I’m a Cassandra, but when it comes to a way forward, I just don’t see it.