Cross-posted from Campaign For America's Future
Our long national nightmare is over -- for the moment. Congress has adjourned for summer recess after a session that can safely be described as "historic," both for its historic lack of accomplishment and the historically low regard in which it is now held by the public.
But let's be clear: This shameful record is not an example of "government failure." It is a demonstration of what happens when people who are opposed to government, for reasons of both ideology and self-interest, are given positions of power within it and do not face a sufficiently eloquent and well-organized opposition.
Doing nothing is not a bug for Republicans in Congress. It is a feature.
They appear to be evolving from a rhetorically extreme but ultimately self-interested body -- a phenomenon that is disturbing in its moral implications but at least somewhat predictable in its behavior -- into something else altogether: a rhetorically extreme group that actually believes its rhetoric.
Sooner or later that will force the GOP's Democratic opponents to confront the question: What do they believe in, and what will they do to achieve it?
Across the Borderline
Traces of the Republican Right's steely determination are easily found, in everything from its xenophobic treatment of refugee children to the austerity policies that continue to wrack our economy. They have even begun to mythologize this destructive endeavor, telling the story of their own obstructionism as if it were a noble and historic battle.
Consider the tragic scuttling of the House leadership's border bill -- itself essentially a symbolic gesture -- by the ultra-right Cruz wing of the party. That failure left Republicans comically imploring the President to do something about the border crisis "without the need for congressional action" -- while at the same time preparing to sue him for taking other actions without congressional approval.
This much-remarked madness illustrates the actions of a party that lacks both a moral and a cognitive compass. But that doesn't mean Republicans aren't on a winning streak of sorts anyway.
The immigration failure was the crowning non-achievement of the closing congressional session, and we're told that it was birthed one night in Sen. Ted Cruz's office over "We, The Pizza; Starburst; Skittles; Shiner Bock beer; Yuengling; white wine; and three selections of Dr. Pepper."
(Which Republican was the closet elitist who ordered white wine? And what kind was it -- a dry choice like a Chardonnay to go with the pizza, or perhaps a Riesling to complement the sugary fruitiness of the Skittles? Inquiring minds want to know.)
There was to be none of this "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" nonsense for this crowd. Their mission was to shut down even House Speaker John Boehner's circumscribed funding for the effort they insisted on calling "Obama's amnesty."
As symbolism for the Republican right, it doesn't get much more concise than this profound statement of ungenerosity. Children in need, hungry and endangered and far from home, should evoke sympathetic reactions in a kind and generous people. By rejecting these kids -- and attempting to punish President Obama for acts of common decency -- we learn who the Republicans are, not just in their policies but in their souls.
Crazy is as Crazy Does
But then, they've pretty much told us that themselves. The House's far-right Republicans -- which is to say, a large chunk of them -- is blocking a bipartisan proposal to honor and congratulate Pope Francis on his election. These sorts of resolutions have always been uncontroversial in Congress -- Catholics vote, after all -- but they're having none of it. Instead, an unnamed Republican official told The Hill that the Pope is "too liberal" for them.
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