04/24/2011 07:22 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2011

GOP Illusions Running Into Reality

Just after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase said that if pro-slavery forces had just kept quiet, slavery might have survived -- but that pushing the war signed slavery's death warrant.

I think we're looking at something like that today. Simply: Today's Right Wing is about the past. But the world is about the future. So unless Newt Gingrich and Co. are hiding an enormous time machine, they can only fail to deliver on their rhetoric, and fail generally; and pressing matters only accelerates it.

I suppose the leaders of the Right figured that if they merely said they wanted to conserve the best in America in a world that was undergoing vast change, they'd have failed. But it does seem to me that the course they've chosen keeps sending the Right out the believability curve.

After all, you can only cry wolf so many times, and that's what the Right does -- whip up the troops by raising empty threats, and replace them before the old ones turn out to be empty threats.

Sooner or later, all that will come crashing down. And I think we're pretty much there. As I've said here many times, Americans are practical at bottom. And they really don't like being threatened, or played for fools.

The Right's making a big show now, of course, and many people are afraid they're winning; but we should remember that the Confederacy seemed to be winning right up to Gettysburg, while the reality was that every one of Robert E. Lee's brilliant victories was another nail in the Confederacy's coffin -- because the Confederacy had no factories, no money, and not enough men.

I think that what we're really going through today in Washington isn't a battle for America's soul, but an enormous negotiation over America's future. That battle meme is just the Right crying wolf -- again. And I also believe the guys running the Right Wing machine know their time is up, and are staking out maximalist negotiating positions so they don't lose too much in the end.

The only reason we think otherwise is because the Right controls an enormous noise machine. But like most noise, what comes out of that machine is meaningless, and plays its acolytes as fools.

Take, for instance, the current Right-Wing threat to refuse to raise the debt ceiling, and default on the national debt.

Quite simply, this will never happen, if only because it's politically impossible for a bunch who call themselves Constitutionalists to violate the Constitution.

And since the 14th Amendment says, "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law...shall not be questioned.", and since we can assume that somewhere in Republican National Committee headquarters is a copy of said Constitution, we can conclude that the GOP leadership has no intention of telling the country they're all liars.

It would be bad for business.

Thus, the default story is a negotiating posture, and if you press somebody at RNC headquarters about how this would be done without violating the Constitution, I'll bet you all the money in my pockets that they can't tell you.

You know why? Because they don't know. Like the Texas lawmaker who recently proposed a law to prevent Sharia Law from being imposed on Texas; it's just something they heard on the radio.

And that's the GOP leadership's real problem; it's being pushed by a bunch of people who were sold fantasies, and expect the sellers to make good on their promises.

The result? The pros have to find a way to seem like they're making good on them. And when they don't--they very simply can't, any more than Donald Trump could just go into the Middle East and "Take the oil"--they'll be facing a bunch of angry Tea Party voters.

The good news? Those Tea Party guys are only 20 percent of the Republican Party--itself only 23 percent of the American electorate. They're loud and get plenty of attention, but they're not a majority of anything and pose no threat to anybody who didn't make them empty promises to get elected.

Meanwhile, the Right's done our country plenty of damage. Just mentioning they're talking about defaulting on the debt's sent the Dollar to its lowest values against most major currencies in years--the Yen excepted. Major bond funds have sold their enormous holdings of Treasuries and major investors are shopping for investments overseas.

This will have bad effects for the US economy whether we default or not, and getting back to some semblance of normal will take time and not be fun. But we can get past it.

So will the Right just give up? Of course not. We have to expect the Right will go down fighting, just like Robert E. Lee did, and the mainstream of this country will have to fight back like it means it.

On the other hand, once Americans do get serious, they don't fool around. That last morning at Appomattox, Lee had only 8,000 men, but ordered John Gordon and Fitzhugh Lee to try to break through the Union lines. Sheridan's cavalry held a hill, and Gordon and Lee brushed it aside.

When they reached the crest, they saw a wall of blue marching towards them. It was the entire, integrated, 40,000-man Army of the James.

See this and more at my website,

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