Sane Republicans are trying to curb the kamikazes
As we careen toward a government shutdown, courtesy of a Republican kamikaze squad that somehow thinks it can kill Obamacare by threatening a closure, we can only hope that saner souls in the minority party can stage a successful intervention and coax the pilots out of their cockpits.
How about Karl Rove? It tells us plenty about today's GOP that Rove looks like a font of common sense, but so be it. Here's what he wrote yesterday: "A shutdown now would have much more fallout than the one (precipitated by Newt Gingrich's GOP) in 1995...Washington won't be able to pay military families or any other federal employe. While conscientious FBI and Border Patrol agents, prison guards, air-traffic controllers and other federal employes may keep showing up for work, they won't get paychecks, just IOUs...Any strategy to repeal, delay, or replace (Obamacare) must have a credible chance of succeeding or affecting broad public opinion positively. The defunding strategy doesn't. Going down that road would strengthen the president while alienating independents. It is an ill-conceived tactic, and Republicans should reject it."
Or how about David Winston, the respected Republican pollster who works these days for the House GOP? In mid-summer, he conclusively rebutted the kamikaze delusion (shared by right-wingers who have overdosed on troll juice) that public opposition to Obamacare equals public support for a shutdown. When Winston asked Americans across the board whether they'd support a shutdown "as a way to defund the president's health care law," 71 percent said no. Even when he asked the Republican respondents, 53 percent said no. And these findings jibe with Karl Rove's findings; according to a new poll conducted in 10 swing states by his group, Crossroads GPS, 60 percent of independent voters dislike Obamacare - but 58 percent "oppose defunding Obamacare if that risks even a temporary shutdown."
Or how about the Wall Street Journal editorial page, which is typically ground zero for anti-Obama sentiment? Earlier this week, here's what it editorialized: "Kamikaze missions rarely turn out well, least of all for the pilots...The evidence going back to the Newt Gingrich Congress is that no party can govern from the House, and the Republican party can't abide the (shutdown) outcry when flights are delayed, national parks close, and direct deposits for military spouses stop. Sooner or later, the GOP breaks...The kamikazes could end up ensuring the return of all-Democratic rule."
Or how about the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, normally close allies of the GOP? Here's what its top lobbyist, R. Bruce Josten, wrote this week in an open letter to the House: "It is not in the best interests of the U.S. business community or the American people to risk even a brief government shutdown that might trigger disruptive consequences or raise new policy uncertainties washing over the U.S. economy."
Or how about John McCain, who's been around long enough to know how to count votes? Here's what he said on CNN yesterday, with respect to political reality: "In the United States Senate, we will not repeal, or defund, Obamacare. We will not. And (for the House) to think we can is not rational...Most of the people who are (threatening shutdown) are new and do not have the experience that we had (in 1995) when the American people - who don't like government, but don't want it to be shut down - reacted in a very negative fashion towards Congress for doing so."
Or how about John Feehery, a Republican strategist who was high in the GOP hierarchy on Capitol Hill during the '95 shutdown? Here's what he wrote on his blog yesterday: "Shutting down the government at first wasn't catastrophic (for the GOP). But eventually, the worm turned and the public turned on Newt Gingrich. And it wasn't pretty. You would have hoped that the new class of Republicans would have learned the lessons of the 1990s, especially about government shutdowns...But as any parent knows, kids have to learn things for themselves. Parents can do all that they can to warn of the dangers of this thing or that, but on some things, kids have to make their own mistakes."
But Feehery can't help himself. He's trying to warn the kids anyway: "First, you can't force a president to repeal a law that he signed and proudly supports, by threatening to shut the government down...Second, you can't urge the House to go on a kamikaze mission."
Oh, yes they can. So much for the Republican voices of reason. And the roar of the warplanes grows louder.
Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1