PostScript can’t summarize Charles Krauthammer’s column today redirecting the House GOP better than he does in this paragraph:
“The party establishment is coming around to the view that if you try to govern from one house — e.g., force spending cuts with cliffhanging brinkmanship — you lose. You not only don’t get the cuts. You get the blame for rattled markets and economic uncertainty. You get humiliated by having to cave in the end. And you get opinion polls ranking you below head lice and colonoscopies in popularity.”
Pick your battles, Krauthammer advises. If you can’t win, don’t fight just to prove you disagree. Give on some things in exchange for getting more of what you want down the road. And then, Krauthammer says, there won’t be a struggle within the GOP, just like there wouldn’t be one if it were Mitt Romney getting sworn in Monday.
PostScript was very pleased to find chewy, thoughtful responses throughout the comments to Krauthammer’s column (which usually attracts good debate), so she chose to PostScript upon this spot even though Susan Eisenhower got more comments (about twice as many). Well done, commenters, for having so many different things to say.
jeffdc1 likes Krauthammer’s plan and also likes that it also shows an admirable certainty in core conservative beliefs — that they will still work even after four more years:
President Obama won a second term, so Republicans should let him get the majority of what he wants, trying to make changes that they can, but not trying to block things wholesale. Then, let’s see where we are in 4 years. If the Republicans are right, and I think they are more right than Democrats, that failing to curb spending will harm the country, then that should be clear in another 4 years if the President and the Democrats in Congress are given the ability to enact their agenda. If, however, the Republicans are wrong, then the economy should be better off. Yes, I do realize that, if the Republicans let the President have his way and the economy is in overall better condition in 4 years, the Republicans will be hard pressed to persuade people that their economic philosophy is better. But I think the chances of that happening are so small (almost non-existent), that I would opt to let the President have his way. After all, the country now seems to expect huge deficits, high unemployment and falling wages, so how much worse can things get?
JustMom says principles are principles, and why bother electing someone with them if he or she has to bend with the prevailing wind?
Until we get representatives who are ready and willing to fall on the sword, the Republican party will continue to be embarrassed. I don’t care about the Republicans taking the blame for being responsible! Grown ups frequently have to “take the blame” for making hard decisions. How can caving be [more] favorable than standing for what you believe in regardless of the consequences?
BizPerson agrees. Certain (political, temporary) doom is the time when being principled really matters:
Sometimes the most heroic step is to throw yourself on a grenade. The new strategy sounds a lot like “run away and hide” to me. Man up. Accept political fallout, Show political courage. Congress is responsible for the budget and you have the majority of Congressmen.
Pass Simpson Bowles, tied to a debt hike through 2014 elections.
choppy1 thinks there’s a problem with Krauthammer’s thought experiment: It’s a tautology. If the GOP as it stands could have won the last national election, there would be no need for the party to split, so it wouldn’t split:
“Simple thought experiment: Imagine that we had a Republican president.” But we don’t have a Republican president precisely because Americans reject what today’s Republican party stands for. Simple thought experiment: We’ve been in the economic doldrums for five years; unemployment is at 7.8%. Would you expect the incumbent party to win the presidency, the Senate and the popular vote in the House? No, but it did because voters did not see Republicans as a viable alternative. The Republican party is splitting between those who want power and those who are wedded to positions that a growing majority of voters rejects.
Purvis Reaker says there’s another problem:
There’s just one problem with the thought experiment posed by MC Hammer here: the Republicans did have a president, not so long ago. And they certainly did march in lock-step, if not goosestep, but not to do any of the things Charles would have us believe they believe in. Turns out big government’s great when you’re in charge.
glazerandfamily echoes this point, arguing the GOP needs to earn some trust:
You say that if there was a Republican President, the GOP House would “rally around something like a Paul Ryan budget.” Perhaps you forgot what the GOP did in 2001 when they had just that. They passed a tax cut and ramped up spending and debt. The rule they followed then was “deficits don’t matter,” to quote then-Vice President Cheney. For all they say, when Republicans are in control they spend like drunken Democrats.
Bob Roberts is wondering why this is a new plan for the GOP, when it all seems pretty obvious to Bob:
It took 4+ years to realize the minority party should compromise? To only try to get what victories they can that are possible and within reach? Perhaps I’m wrong but isn’t that how American politics has functioned for two centuries?
PostScript must agree this is correct, but “functioned” also included a lot of shouting, beating one another with sticks, duels, and a ton of debate and even war over disagreements that look pretty obvious today. Here’s to another two years!