By Mark Green
Mary Matalin and David Corn debate the shutdown and debt ceiling. With a) Obama refusing to give any ransom, b) the Tea Party refusing to give any ground, and c) the Party of Lincoln itself a "HOUSE divided," can the GOP win... or survive?
Will the NBC/WSJ poll play a decisive role in forcing Boehner to retreat while declaring victory? Time for Churchill quote book!
On the Shutdown. Who caused it? Mary responds by saying not really "shutdown" since only 17 percent of government affected and, like Sequester, sky isn't falling. Corn dismisses as "delusional" any answer other than the Gang of 40 Tea Partiers "forced Boehner into a corner... and now they've had their backsides handed to them."
We listen to the Republican Kings -- Iowa's Stephen King say Obamacare is "an unconstitutional taking of god-given liberty" and Peter King say "this is Ted Cruz's fault" -- as well as Bill Moyers look fondly back to an era that when a final bill might disappoint both sides but wouldn't lead anyone to shut the government in a tantrum.
And since the Democrats here won a law, election and Supreme Court decision, aren't Tea Party rebels akin Custer demanding that the Indians go shoot themselves? Mary rebuffs any notion that the Tea Party is outside the mainstream since they "embrace the Founders' philosophy and are concerned about the size and scope of government. They're fighting the tyranny of the minority... since Obamacare has never enjoyed majority support."
David doubts that the GOP's 1x1 strategy of releasing a legislative hostage-at-a-time -- money for war memorials, for Parks, for FDA -- can work. Indeed, it's not working as the NCBC-WSJ poll shows the public blaming the GOP by 53-31 for Shutdown and with the party at historic low 24 percent favorable.
Mary, won't these numbers force Boehner to "surrender" to avoid either political or economic calamity? She acknowledges that the Republican brand has been damaged in the short run but the Caucus "isn't doing their jobs if they let this poll affect them. They're doing what they were elected to do."
Making it even harder to resolve this conflict is the reality that the Party of Lincoln is itself a "House divided" since two distinct wings: a purist, insurrectionist Tea Party wing and a more traditional business/neo-con wing of The Chamber, WSJ, McCain, Rove. Given this split + steady rise of minority voters, how does the GOP win this fight or even survive beyond the 2020 reapportionment election? And which side is Mary on? Basically, as a "principled limited government conservative," she's siding with the "'extremists' on this one" in the Goldwater 1964 definition.
Yet being no Debt Ceiling Denialist, she adds that the debt-ceiling must and will be raised. She moves the argument to the terrain of spending, debt and entitlements, saying any final deal has to include all this. David scoffs that'll happen even though a Shutdown that began when "hostage takers" demanded an end to Obamacare are now changing their demands to include Mary's wish list.
Poor Peggy Noonan. She and a chunk of her party have been lamenting that Obama doesn't fill a room when he enters it and lacks leadership qualities. Yet now that he's been standing tall since his reelection and saying that he wouldn't negotiate anything for an increase in the debt ceiling because that'd encourage annual extortions, they complain that he's stubborn and out of touch. Like with civil rights, military interventions and government in the economy, Republicans are on the wrong side of history on this one...and will have to surrender as polls widen between the generic Democrat and Republican in House races. As written before, this will happen when Boehner fears the words "Speaker Pelosi" more than the words "Tea Party."
On Yellen at FED. Matalin and Corn agree that this was a very good pick and then speculate what other "glass ceilings" women can break. David comes up with two good ones: why not a woman as a late night TV network comic...and on our currency, especially in light of Yellen?
On the "Redskins." Asking us to imagine a team now called "the darkies," Corn says owner Dan Snyder should calm down and change its obviously offensive name. Mary avoids the controversy by simply embracing her much-loved inner Saints, a name that surely doesn't offend either co- or no-religionists.
On the Obamacare Roll-out. We listen to Jon Stewart torment HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over the flawed rollout of the exchanges on line. Both tsk tsk the Administration though it's doubtful that this will have enduring impact, as the bumpy rollouts of Medicare and Medicare Part D were smoothed out. Notes the Host quoting Media Matters: "If the web site crashes when too many Taylor Swift fans try to get concern tickets, do we blame Taylor Swift?"
Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.
You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen
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