We stare into the abyss today — the abyss that comes when a political party's spine is removed and we stare down into the cavity . . . longingly . . . waiting . . . dreaming of what might have been.
Friends, I write this hoping the events I predict will not happen, but I suspect the events will happen. You need to understand what is at play today in Washington. There are two competing forces.
The first force is that of the Democrats and their unstoppable desire for a government shutdown. You read that right. The Democrats, not the Republicans, are desperate for a government shutdown. Barack Obama needs a government shutdown.
Everyone in Washington is fixated on the Myth of 1995. In the MythTM, nasty Republicans shut down Washington, DC, starving old people and children, denying passports to refugees from the crisis, and gunning down our soldiers in harm's way because the government could not buy and ship bullets to respond. Yogi Bear also starved to death because no tourists with their picnic baskets could get into Jellystone.
In the MythTM, Bill Clinton was transcendent and triumphant. He outmaneuvered the GOP, reopened the government, and cruised to re-election vanquishing the GOP. Don't believe me? Just watch the West Wing episode cementing the MythTM as fact.
In fact, I hear David Axelrod, Plouffe, and Jay Carney keep coming out of the White House bathroom red raced, sweaty, and slightly blind and the only thing left in the bathroom is a flatscreen running that episode over and over and some hand sanitizer.
It is the MythTM.
John Boehner, who was in Newt Gingrich's leadership team, remembers the MythTM. He remembers how the failed GOP PR battle, Bob Dole's betrayal, Gingrich's ham fisted handling of the matter, etc. sabotaged the GOP. The GOP, being the stupid party, botched the PR campaign. So despite getting a balanced budget and welfare reform by forcing a shutdown and gaining seats in the Senate while holding their own in the House, John Boehner and the House GOP leadership have bought into the MythTM.
We are now left with the unstoppable force of the White House and Democrats wanting a shutdown impacting the malleable object that is the Republicans' spine desperate to contort its way into a spin that it cut spending and kept Washington open.
The impact here is going to be huge. Let me tell you why.
Again, the White House and Democrats are desperate for a shutdown so Barack Obama can, like Bill Clinton in the MythTM, be transcendent and leader looking.
John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell are desperate to not have a shutdown lest they get blamed and hurt in 2012.
The consequence of this will be Chuck Schumer in the Senate sensing the yellow growing down the spine of the GOP. The Democrats will draw a firm line in the sand daring the GOP to cross it. The GOP will, in turn, walk as far away from the line as possible.
Gone will be the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
Gone will be defunding of government abortions in the District of Columbia.
Gone will be the major spending cuts.
Gone will be virtually any fiscal discipline.
They will not even attempt to defund Obamacare.
The GOP will give the White House whatever it wants just so the GOP can avoid being blamed for a shutdown.
Hopefully someone — maybe the House GOP Freshmen and guys like DeMint, Lee, Paul, and Toomey — will recognize that 2011 is not 1995.
Voters want spending cuts. Voters are sympathetic to a conservative coalition hellbent on reining in Washington.
Barack Obama and the Democrats have misread voter sentiment throughout the last two years. There is nothing to indicate they will get it right this time. If the GOP stands up for spending cuts and budgetary reform, the Democrats may very well force a shutdown.
Already their friends in the media are beginning to regurgitate the MythTM and suggest it is the GOP, not the Democrats, who want the shutdown. What the media fails to see is that some of us do want a shutdown — hell, I want a shutdown — but Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, etc. will do everything in their power to prevent that from happening.
If a shutdown happens, it will be because the Democrats, more than the GOP, bought into the MythTM and the MythTM simply was what it was — a myth.
The GOP needs to fight for spending cuts and not roll over. Unfortunately, unless we keep the pressure on, I'm afraid the GOP will indeed roll over and do everything in their power to avoid a shutdown.
The GOP can win the PR battle if the government shuts down. They just don't think they can.
And they'd rather good press than principle any day of the week.