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Fri Jan 4, 2013, 06:24 PM

Lesson of the failed Boehner coup: We’re dealing with idiots

Lesson of the failed Boehner coup: We’re dealing with idiots
No one leads or controls the House's crazy caucus, and they're going to bumble us into catastrophe


By now you’ve probably read one of the stories of the failed attempt by a handful of conservative members of the House GOP caucus to remove John Boehner as speaker of the House. If you haven’t, Joshua Green has a handy summary. Nine members ended up voting against Boehner, eight short of the number that would’ve forced a second ballot, and all involved in the failed ouster humiliated themselves in the most public fashion possible.

One problem was a lack of leadership. If, say, Eric Cantor had actually wanted the job, he could’ve organized the coup and succeeded. But Eric Cantor didn’t want the job. The bigger problem, then, was a lack of intelligence. The crazy caucus failed spectacularly at all aspects of the attempted conspiracy, from planning to execution. They waited until the last minute to approach potential allies, failed to count their own votes correctly, and didn’t even all figure out who they were supposed to vote for instead. Their plan was apparently to embarrass Boehner into resigning, in favor of … someone to be decided later. Candidates voted for by plotters included departing Rep. Allen West and former Comptroller David Walker, who are basically the opposites of one another.

This spectacular display of idiocy is, in microcosm, why negotiating with the House GOP is impossible. Because common negotiation tactics require dealing with an opposition that understands reality. “Leverage” only works against rational people. A large number of House Republicans aren’t just “nihilists,” willing to blow up the economy to get what they want, they’re plain morons who have impossible and horrible goals and no clue whatsoever how to reach them.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., who held an iPad listing the names of would-be anti-Boehner conspirators in full view of a journalist’s camera, is an idiot. He is not just a person whose politics I find distasteful or extremist, he is a dumber-than-average human. Paul Broun and Louie Gohmert are two of the dumbest people on Earth. In a slightly better functioning political world, these three would just do what their smarter leader told them to do. Instead, they and their colleagues have forced their leader to act as if he is as dumb as they are regarding the process of governing. Boehner’s new position is that he will not attempt to negotiate with the party that shares control of the government, which makes no sense as a strategy for achieving conservative policy goals, but makes sense if you think the best way to achieve conservative policy goals is to destroy the country until everyone agrees with you.



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Reply Lesson of the failed Boehner coup: We’re dealing with idiots (Original post)
DonViejo Jan 2013 OP
Enrique Jan 2013 #1
TomCADem Jan 2013 #2
octoberlib Jan 2013 #3

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 06:50 PM

1. they're not dumb, they are corrupt

the Tea Party is a corporate invention. The Koch Brothers bought this "crazy caucus" and what Pareene is calling "crazy" is their strategy.

That strategy should be doomed to failure, but I am not seeing any indication that it is. If there is some scenario where the GOP pays some kind of price for their hostage taking, someone please lay it out for me because it isn't obvious to me.

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Response to Enrique (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 08:27 PM

2. I Actually Think A Large Segment Are Economically Illiterate

There was a story during the 2011 debt limit fight where Paul Ryan of all people had to give a power point presentation to the new members of Congress to educate them regarding the debt limit and why going into default was a bad thing. Nonetheless, a large number of Republicans voted against raising the debt limit back in 2011 even though the deal was very favorable to Republicans.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 08:48 PM

3. I don't think they're idiots either. It's all a tactic. This author does say though that

republicans are bad at math.
A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).The media are also complicit in this phenomenon. Ever since the bifurcation of electronic media into a more or less respectable "hard news" segment and a rabidly ideological talk radio and cable TV political propaganda arm, the "respectable" media have been terrified of any criticism for perceived bias. Hence, they hew to the practice of false evenhandedness. Paul Krugman has skewered this tactic as being the "centrist cop-out." "I joked long ago," he says, "that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read 'Views Differ on Shape of Planet.'"


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