There were certainly goats and heroes in the shutdown fiasco. Some Republicans in the House and Senate knew from the get go this would be a disaster. They deserve the credit and respect of their peers. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and a slew of Senate Republican moderate deserve thanks for bringing the episode to its logical conclusion.
But what is hardest of all is to reflect on is one’s shortcomings and admit error. To do it in public and to challenge powerful voices is even harder. To that end I want to single out Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a rock-ribbed conservative. From a Houston, Tex., local media report we learn: “Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy said his party’s plan to threaten a government shutdown over the 2010 health care law was doomed from the beginning, and he wishes he’d done more to keep his colleagues from pursuing it.”
He told the local media: “What did Republicans get for 16 days of a government shutdown with people being hurt? We have absolutely nothing to show for it, other than a damaged brand.” He concedes he went along with the defund and delay strategy. Now, however, he says, “I need to go home and work on being more persuasive myself, and hopefully my colleagues will have a period of self-reflection and evaluate why they’re in public service as well.”
Compare that to the fabrications of one of the ringleaders of the doomed shutdown strategy, Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks. On C-Span on Friday he falsely insisted that “we are the only guys would’ve offered a strategy to [get rid of Obamacare. They could’ve offered a different strategy, but they didn’t do that.”
That’s just false. Even Mike Needham of Heritage Action admitted the only way to get rid of Obamacare is by the ballot box, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) admitted there was no way this was going to succeed. Moreover, opponents of the strategy including the speaker of the House offered many alternatives including a narrowly focused demand on delaying the individual mandate and focusing on the disastrous rollout. When you have to engage in blatant historical revisionism, chances are you messed up.
Gowdy and other reflective Republican conservatives to a large extent hold the fate of the House and their party. It will be up to them to consider whether stunts like the shutdown are counterproductive and whether fighting smart is what they should be doing. Gowdy seems to be off to a very good start. He is also, as head of a subcommittee on immigration reform, at the center of that fight. He is highly suspicious (rightfully so) that a comprehensive deal can be struck. However if there is progress to be made, he’s well-equipped to make the case to his colleagues for some sort of reform bill.
So for uncommon candor and setting a good example for his colleagues, we say good work Congressman Gowdy.