Because, you see, contrary to the hoary conventions of Washington journalism, this made-for-TV crisis has never really been a sign of “partisan gridlock” or any such thing. Even my own gibe about Republicans losing to Harry Reid and Barack Obama above is somewhat misleading.
The real fight hardly involves Democrats, one reason Reid’s had little trouble keeping the Senate majority in line.
“As a matter of politics,” James Fallows writes in The Atlantic, “this is different from anything we learned about in classrooms or expected until the past few years. We’re used to thinking that the most important disagreements are between the major parties, not within one party; and that disagreements over policies, goals, tactics can be addressed by negotiation or compromise.
“This time, the fight that matters is within the Republican Party, and that fight is over whether compromise itself is legitimate.”
By attempting to use budgetary extortion to annul a law passed by both houses of Congress, found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and reinforced by a presidential election, an inflamed minority inside the Republican Party is attempting something like a constitutional coup d’etat.
Fallows: “There is no post-Civil War precedent for what the House GOP is doing now. It is radical, and dangerous for the economy and our process of government, and its departure from past political disagreements can’t be buffed away or ignored.”
Indeed, an increasing number of conscientious Republicans have grown alarmed. Former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson: “We are no longer seeing a revolt against the Republican leadership, or even against the Republican ‘establishment’; this revolt is against anyone who accepts the constraints of political reality. Conservatives are excommunicated not for holding the wrong convictions but for rational calculations in service of those convictions.”