Mr. Putin? Any Ideas?

The wily Brownshirt in the Kremlin, Mr. Putin, saved us from an immediate debacle in Syria.

He must be wondering if Mr. Obama is going to call and ask him to deal with Congress and the government shutdown. Sadly for the President, Putin is unlikely to help, because as our Interim Leader he would have to join Obamacare and the only person who wants to do that has his name on the program.

Somebody asked me what I thought of the government shut down. As a monarchist, I could report that my Lord is still on the throne and the cosmos is sustained, but I assume they meant my pilgrim citizenship in this Republic.

So far I can report that Texas has not missed the Federal government one bit, at least those parts of Texas I see. Chaos has not broken out, the mail will be delivered, and our border remains insecure. The Federals continue to do two out of the three things we pay them to do and continues to fail at the third.

Seriously, does anyone believe that a “shutdown” of the government will have more than symbolic meaning for most Americans?

I do not see it having lasting impact anymore than the previous “epoch shut down.” Polls will blame Republicans more, because the public views any Presidential position as the mainstream. Republicans will be “blamed” for gridlock, so if they don’t get something for it, they will look foolish. Americans don’t like Obamacare, they don’t like the Republicans in Congress, but they are not crazy about the President or the Democrats in Congress either.

Does anybody love this Congress or the President? Hasn’t the whole system soiled itself  through debt, graft, and legalized corruption?

When the shutdown ends, as it will, then normal political lines will reassert themselves. The question is: “Who will blink?”

The government shutdown is a good idea only if the GOP House will refuse to compromise. The Grand Old Party is no longer grand at holding positions and is no merely old and not much of a party. My guess is that the entire mess is a fraud, a piece of political theater, where the rich and well connected will benefit and the poor, the average government employee, and the grafters will prosper.

I can only hope I am wrong and having started down this road the House leadership has the fortitude to travel to the end.

The entire mess is not, however, based on some particular evil of the Republicans in the House.

The House has the right to fund or not fund anything. The Senate has the right to disagree with the House. The President has the right to ask Congress to do whatever he wishes. Our system creates these chances for gridlock and so now the issue will be joined again: do we really want Obamacare?

The President was reelected and the Democrats kept the Senate, but the Republicans gained and retained the House. As a result, the issue has not yet been settled. The Court ruled the program Constitutional, but only as a tax. Would the plan have passed as a tax in the first place? It is hardly passed as it was, so perhaps not.

Supporters of the program want to see each “win” as decisive and any delay as “intransigence,” but opponents of the bill have the power to block implementation and there is no Constitutional reason not to use it. Politically, few if any Congressional Republicans will lose their jobs by opposing this unpopular program. Most are from districts that would punish “rolling over” by funding the program.

The President has no reason to compromise on his signature achievement, one of few legislative wins of his administration. He certainly will get no more. Vlad Putin made him a lame duck.

The Senate has no role to play since the majority party is backing the President. Republican squishes can safely remain squishy in the Senate. So what of the House?

There the GOP must face one man (with no reason to blink) while they must keep their few but critical moderates in line. The President has a powerful advantage there the longer this impasse goes. But what of the President?

He has shown little taste for brinksmanship. He is not Bill Clinton. If the Republicans hold firm and refuse to compromise, then does the President have the stomach for the fray?

The House can keep passing “emergency bills” that put off Obamacare until the next election. Will the President really keep refusing to sign them? If he does not, then will the American people start to hurt? If they do, then the blame might shift to the leader. The leader in popular imagination is supposed to keep things going. What if he does not?

And yet the Republicans as a group have never shown the will to hold together or to communicate effectively. Withering scorn from the opposition will sting them and too many will run away. The GOP will protest that it is the other side that is harming the nation, but our chattering class will not hear of it. Republicans will remain on the defensive, since Mr. Boehner has the charisma of Kerry and Mr. Cruz the winsome charm of Putin.

As patriots the suffering of the nation, as much the fault of the other side as their own, will irk them.

My bet is enough will collapse under the pressure and much of the American right will be confirmed in the belief that the GOP is full of “RINO” types. Meanwhile American moderates will be bemused, but will forget by the time of the next election since if they had long term memory they would not be moderates. Eventually this debacle will lead to “safe” seats getting more conservative, Rubio to Cruz, and the primary voters in the 2016 longing for even more red meat.

Politically then the “shut down” either must persist or be an obvious disaster. The nation would benefit only if the GOP can defund Obamacare and get the program replaced with something less nightmarish: simpler and less intrusive. I just don’t think they have the stomach for a long battle and only a long battle will get it done.

If so, then this shutdown will do some harm, no good, and was a mistake in tactics.

And yet this administration is out of ideas, running with second-tier figures replacing first term people, and has grown increasingly deaf to public moods.

This time their clownish incompetence will not call forth Putin’s thuggery to save them from themselves. Mr. Kerry cannot make a joke that Putin will turn to policy.

If the GOP majority does not blink, they just might win. If they do, then Cruz will be well on his way to being the nominee as the leader most associated with the victory. But I know the GOP: they are posturing to their base and will soon fold having gotten some minor concessions on something.

And then even Cruz may be too moderate for the hardcore base: Rand Paul’s day may have come.

God help us all.


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