The Republican Groundhog Day

Paul Waldman is frustrated. Really frustrated. And he uses an apt analogy for what we’ve seen the last few years in Congress: Groundhog day. It’s like we’re waking up every day to the same scenario, with the far right fringe of the Republican party making any compromise impossible.

But what do you do when the news turns into some kind of hellish version of Groundhog Day, repeating the same abysmal scenario over and over, in which even the happy ending doesn’t involve finding true love and better understanding of yourself and your role in the world like Bill Murray did, but at best a return to the status quo ante of mindless political squabbles and unsolved problems?

What, then, can I add about the latest twist in the pending government shutdown? How many different ways are there to say that the Tea Party Republicans are both crazy and stupid? How often can you point out that John Boehner is pathetically weak, quite possibly the most ineffectual Speaker in the history of the House of Representatives? How many times can you remind people of all the awful things that would happen if the government shuts down and/or we don’t raise the debt ceiling? How many times can you scream at Republicans that they are never, ever, ever going to repeal the Affordable Care Act so they should just give it the hell up already? How many times can you cry that this would be an insane way to run a junior-high student council, much less the government of the mightiest nation on earth?

I don’t know the answer. But the latest twist is that Boehner has surrendered to what E.J. Dionne appropriately calls the “kamikaze caucus” by announcing that the House will vote only on a three-month continuing resolution that funds the government but defunds Obamacare, and then send it to the Senate for its inevitable defeat. When Ted Cruz acknowledged that it would indeed die in the Senate, even he was condemned from the right for his traitorous toe-dip into the waters of reality. Ted Cruz! What can you even say about that? It’s like the Cultural Revolution over there.

This is what the Tea Party movement hath wrought. Nothing matters but purity. Even acknowledging reality, as Cruz did, is treated as an act of betrayal. We’ve been living in Groundhog Day since January 20, 2011, when the new House with nearly 100 Tea Party types in it was sworn in.

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