Why is she still there? “As the chief advocate for the Affordable Care Act, Secretary [Kathleen] Sebelius is scrambling behind the scenes to address the website’s technical failures. With anger growing over the inability of consumers across the U.S. to access the new online marketplace, Mrs. Sebelius has become the target of late-night spoofs and calls for her resignation.”
If there is little sympathy for him even at the New York Times op-ed pages, he might want to reconsider how he talks to Republicans. “At his victory scold in the State Dining Room on Thursday, the president who yearned to be transformational stood beneath an oil portrait of Abraham Lincoln and demanded . . . a farm bill. He also couldn’t resist taking a holier-than-thou tone toward his tail-between-their-legs Tea Party foes. He assumed his favorite role of the shining knight hectoring the benighted: Sir Lecturealot.” That’s Maureen Dowd, if you can believe it.
There is a silver lining to this fiasco. “Democrats are feeling pretty good. Republicans are not feeling good. And the question is, is the Republican Party going to change? Will what I would call the reality caucus take back control of the party? And I am more optimistic than most that the people who do believe in the basic functions of legislation, including Mitch McConnell, are finally fed up.”
Could there be a few Republicans who are wising up? Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) sounds chastened: “Arguably, some of the people outside Washington, the governors, gained relative to people in Washington. All these things make pretty good 30-second ads: ‘You guys can’t lead.’”
Republicans call it a big achievement. But for very modest savings there is a big downside. “If the armed forces are not ready for future emergencies, the impact on America’s standing will be dire –and, even worse, good men and women in uniform will die needlessly. That is the direct consequences of Washington’s shameful failure to turn off sequestration.”
In contempt for the other branches of government and the constitutional structure that requires compromise (or at least cooperation) there is a striking similarity. President Obama “and some of his tea party adversaries share an impatience with Madisonian politics, which requires patience. The tea party’s reaffirmation of Madison’s limited-government project is valuable. Now, it must decide if it wants to practice politics. . . . The tea party has a choice to make. It can patiently try to become the beating heart of a durable party, which understands this: In Madisonian politics, all progress is incremental. Or it can be a raging bull, and soon a mere memory, remembered only for having broken a lot of china.”
Now there is a voice of reason. Sen. Ted “Cruz’s latest fundraising report shows success luring small, grassroots donors—93 percent of the 12,000 donations in the past three months were under $100. But major donors say he has alienated the titans of industry who have long fueled GOP campaigns. ‘I certainly wouldn’t write him a check,’ said Al Hoffman, former finance director for the Republican National Committee and a Florida real-estate developer. ‘He’s going to have a tough time. These tea-party Republicans are so out of control and unreasonable that there’s few big donors who are going to open up their pocketbooks.'”
It would be good to get someone capable in there. The recent ambassador is leaving. “Currently the Office of International Religious Freedom exists in the worst of all bureaucratic worlds: buried far from the top and isolated from other relevant bureaus. The IRF ambassador position needs to be elevated in stature. . . but the ambassador also must work cooperatively with related bureaus and offices.” It would be good to get someone qualified and without an extended vacancy, as was the case for the outgoing ambassador.
The White House is belatedly considering suspending aid to Egypt, but there is an instinctive preference over there for executive lawlessness. “My point here is not that the July coup was good or bad, or that aid to Egypt should be suspended or continued. Far more important is the administration’s refusal to enforce a very clear statute, something indefensible in itself. And by so doing, it has undermined human rights laws that have been on the books for years. Practically speaking, when next this administration or (more realistically) its successor seeks to avoid a coup somewhere by arguing that an aid cut-off must inevitably follow, what they will hear back is ‘Naaah, why must you cut aid? Obama didn’t–remember Egypt?’ And there goes a large part of our persuasive power.”