Deal Done But War Goes On: No Winners, Only Losers
Behind the Shutdown was a politics of political self-promotion and right-wing movement building to raise money and visibility by raising hell. Obamacare had nothing to do with it. The Lesson: Nihilism Can Be An Effective Tactic
By Danny Schechter
So what was it all about? The Senate deal ending the shutdown and deferring a default until the next time has solved nothing. It is as if we have been given a break for Thanksgiving and the Christmas shopping season until the partisan wars resume. The fighting and arguing have only ceased.
It is unlikely that any of the instigators have learned anything other how a handful of parliamentary savvy kamikazes can bring the government to its knees in the name of a righteous cause--not to bring about change but to try to stop changes they don't like.
When the Ted Cruz missile against Obamacare helped trigger the melee that closed national parks, limited government services and disrupted the livelihoods of 800,000 federal employees, cost billions, and negatively impacted the lives of millions, many wondered why when it was clear the extreme right was pursuing an unachievable goal.
Senator John McCain warned them that they couldn't stop the health care reform as did others in their Party. The White House stood firm as did most Democrats. The Tea Party offensive was widely seen as offensive, or as an extortion ploy, an attempt to nullify a law but also a non-starter.
That didn't stop the true believers. Like the Light Brigade of old, they charged on. Clearly this was a case of ideology uber politics, but behind it was a strategy.
First, they wanted to weaken the Republican center and they did, making Speaker Boehner look powerless and out of control. The best media line about him was that he was "herding cats."
Second, they wanted to prove that if they don't get their way, no one else can or will.
conceded a short term tactical set back but lived to fight another day for
longer-term goals. In that way, they can
try to be viewed as "responsible" and continue to enjoy business support.
some Democrats celebrated, AP reported. "Hold the champagne. Even after
lawmakers complete their pending deal to avert a federal default and fully
reopen the government, they are likely to return to their grinding brand of brinkmanship
- perhaps repeatedly."
"Brinksmanship" is another word for systematic political warfare. This spasm of rebellion emboldened the fundamentalists among them; it did not weaken them.
Sure, they overreached tactically--if you assume what they were saying was their real agenda.
As former federal regulator William Black explained in an article about their "tactical brilliance but strategic incompetence," their demands could not be met, but that was never the point.
Black writes, "the means by which the GOP sought to extort Obama to sacrifice Obamacare made it impossible for Obama to surrender to the Tea Party. The Tea Party was openly threatening to use very short-term extensions of the debt ceiling to repeatedly extort Obama to make enormous, humiliating concessions. This meant that if Obama gave in to their extortion he was dooming his presidency."