Glenn Beck has been growing more and more frustrated with the “establishment GOP hacks,” and on Thursday he unloaded on them for trying to destroy the tea party by sharing a personal anecdote about a literal coup that happened at the conservative group FreedomWorks that he helped bring to an end…
Beck charged that any Republican member of Congress who allies with tea party groups like FreedomWorks “is being targeted by the same class of establishment Republican progressives” like Karl Rove who lost big-time in 2012 with their hand-picked candidates. Beck said, “I don’t want another Lindsey Graham, I don’t want another Mitt Romney, I don’t want another lesser of two evils.”
He warned that so long as establishment-types continue to run the show, “conservatives and America will keep losing,” and predicted that in the future, people like Ted Cruz will “be the most beloved members of the new Republican party or whatever it’s called, because the old one is going to go the way of the dinosaur.”
There has always been a pool of Republicans who have doubted the party’s radical turn. Until now, however, these Republicans have been quiet and passive. They came out to vote in 2010, but they did not join Tea Party rallies. They supported Mitt Romney in the primaries because he looked like a potential president, but they did not object when Romney fastened his campaign to the deadweight anchor of the Ryan plan. They look to Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell to fend off the crazies in the caucus, but they did not understand that those leaders’ strategy for “fending off” the crazies consisted of abject appeasement of the crazies.
Some of these more responsible Republicans are waking up at last. More must do so, many more, before the party can again become a positive force in American politics.
It’s not enough to condemn the crazies in the company of friends. Responsible Republicans have to act. They have to organize and mobilize. This latest debt crisis exemplifies the problem: to threaten default on the obligations of the United States is simply not an acceptable tool of politics. Instead of making excuses—or rummaging through the record books looking for incidents that can be misrepresented as proof that “everybody does it”—responsible Republicans need to challenge their own party. The party leaders know the right thing to do. They are afraid to do it. Blame the leaders for their faint-heartedness, if you like. But remember, faint-hearted politicians are the norm. In the past, faint-hearted politicians behaved in mostly sensible ways because they were afraid to act recklessly. Today they are afraid not to act recklessly, and the failure of their non-reckless constituents to make themselves heard is a big part of the story of that new fear.
I now that many of my conservative readers do not believe this, but I share many of your goals. I would like a smaller government that does less stuff. I oppose the Affordable Care Act.
Yet I am opposed to the shutdown because I think it does real institutional damage to the country, and because I don’t think it will work. It is damaging the Republican Party’s prospects, while not noticeably increasing the chances that government will shrink…
But — as I frequently say to liberals who get huffy about my opposition to Obamacare — the fact that there is a problem does not mean that there is a solution. The fact that you are really angry about what has happened over the last four years and passionately wish to undo some of the damage does not mean that a way exists for you to do so. Do not fall prey to that fatal political syllogism:
1. Something must be done.
2. This is something.
3. Therefore, this must be done.
We’re in this situation in which no matter how unpopular Republicans get, some conservatives will claim that the reason Republicans are unpopular is that they haven’t been sufficiently audacious in making demands. We’re dealing with something akin to a death spiral. Recall that while GOP unfavorables are rising among self-identified Republicans, some number of Republicans will eventually become ex-Republicans — there is some point at which a threshold is crossed. So the 27 percent of Republicans who view their own party unfavorably don’t represent 27 percent of the larger universe of center-right voters. Rather, they represent 27 percent of the residual Republicans left after earlier moments during which other Republicans defected from the party.
I think that Republicans can find a way out of this dilemma, e.g., nominating a presidential candidate who connects with voters outside of the GOP base. Or Republicans who recognize that a strategy of confrontation is proving costly and ineffective might finally assert themselves. But congressional Republicans keep rescuing Democrats from their own failures by pursuing unattainable, and in some cases incoherent, goals. While Republicans are growing less popular, the political entrepreneurs who’ve devised the strategy of confrontation are by and large profiting from having done so.
Lighting yourself on fire as a political strategy rarely works to good effect, whether you do so literally on the National Mall or you do so metaphorically in the halls of Congress. I am deeply concerned that, by relentlessly pursuing an all-or-nothing strategy over the objections of most of his Senate Republican colleagues, which resulted in this government shutdown, Sen. Mike Lee, while sincere in his efforts to stop Obamacare, has committed an act of self-immolation that will cripple his influence in the United States Senate. Unfortunately for the State of Utah, the damage may be permanent…
Real power and influence in a legislative body is not the ability to cast a vote, or delay a nomination, or filibuster a bill. Rather, it is the ability to persuade colleagues, not through force or coercion, but with kindness, and rationality, and sincere, humble conviction. I hope Sen. Lee, whom I admire for his intellect and passion, will choose to pursue a different strategy in the United States Senate. I hope he will learn from this experience and work to repair relationships over time. I hope it’s not too late for him to recover.
After Ryan’s op-ed, which pushed for a strong-willed fight for entitlement reform in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, failed to mention the unholiest of Tea Party holies, Obamacare, he was nailed to a proverbial cross by Ted Cruz defenders, who then immediately told everyone at Golgotha — or on Twitter — of his betrayal…
[F]rankly, Cruz’s defenders are only managing to make Ryan look like the grown-up.
I don’t recall Ryan jumping into the fray when plenty of Republicans were criticizing the strategy to defund Obamacare — a position by Cruz that I have applauded as heroic. When Sens. Bob Corker and Orrin Hatch and Rep. Peter King were scolding Cruz for a plan they knew was ill-fated, Ryan was virtually silent on the move. This, even though Cruz has never been shy about his disdain for Ryan Republicans. Back in March, Cruz criticized Ryan’s budget plan for its Medicare cuts. And he’s made it clear he doesn’t trust Ryan when it comes to budget negotiations.
It’s hard to argue that Ryan isn’t a staunch conservative. To treat him like a traitor is preposterous and unproductive. And while I admire Cruz’s conviction, and stand by his commitment to peel back a program as odious and ruinous as the Affordable Care Act, he has to learn to work with others on his own team.
On the other side of the meeting table today on the Hill was the governor of a state that Barack Obama carried by 18 points just last year. Less than a year later, New Jersey’s Republican governor enjoys a gaudy approval rating and a 33-point lead over his Democratic challenger in a state that has gone Democratic in every presidential election following 1988. Chris Christie’s lead represents a 41 percent swing in the Republican Party’s fortunes since last year’s presidential election. Christie’s 68 percent approval rating in a dark blue state is also 40 points higher than the GOP’s approval rating nationwide.
On the other side of the country in New Mexico, GOP Gov. Susana Martinez is basking in a 70 percent approval rating with women and a 62 percent approval rating with men in a state that President Obama carried by 10 precent in 2012. In Ohio, John Kasich’s approval rating is close to 50% in the bellwether state that Mr. Obama took home easily. And in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker has been abused by unions and special interests for several years and yet survived a bloody recount fight and enjoys an approval rating close to 50 percent. More important for Walker, his fiscal stewardship has drawn the praise of credit agencies like Moody’s for erasing Wisconsin’s structural debt.
Unlike D.C. Republicans who reside in the 28 percent club, conservative leaders like Walker, Christie and Kasich have succeeded because they have chosen to pass budgets, work with Democrats, and avoid credit defaults. Maybe, that’s why they are the future leaders of the Republican Party instead of those D.C. creatures who are leading Washington Republicans down a political rathole.
How many Americans know that in Rick Perry’s Texas the rate of incarceration has been going down? How many know that under the gubernatorial leadership of Mary Fallin, Oklahoma has seen its emergency cash reserves grow from $2.03 — actual couch-cushion money — to $600 million? If Republicans want to be seen as the party of getting stuff done, it has at least 30 theaters of action from which to choose. Instead, the drama is focused on Washington, where the GOP controls one chamber of one branch — enough to get blamed for Washington dysfunction, but not enough to govern.
So as the electorate grows paradoxically more conservative and less friendly to Republicans, the challenge for the GOP is to figure out how to connect its conservatism with a conservative public that distrusts the conservative party. That doesn’t sound like a terribly difficult challenge, but it is. Conservatism is a philosophy, which is a different thing from a specific policy agenda. Talking endlessly about the middle class is not going to cut it, nor is tinkering with tax rates. And beyond the specific political platform, Republicans have to show that they can be trusted to govern with the best interests of the broad electorate in mind. In 2013, showing that Republicans can govern starts with Republican governors. If there is any upside to the shutdown showdown, it is that by highlighting the fecklessness and foolishness of Washington, it increases the odds that a governor rather than a senator will emerge to lead the GOP in the next great contest.
Democrats like to portray Republicans as being taken over by a group of extremists. Establishment Republicans want to portray their opponents within the party as unreasonable, while Tea Party supporters want to portray all conservatives who disagree with their take-no-prisoners approach as sellouts to the Washington political establishment.
But this made-for-TV spectacle doesn’t recognize another group on the Right. It’s the subset of conservatives who agree with the Tea Party that Republicans should be more faithful to the principles of constitutionally limited government, but who also believe that Tea Party groups often employ counterproductive methods…
Just like Tea Party groups, these conservatives passionately oppose Obama’s health care law. But at the same time, they thought the strategy of trying to defund it through the budget process was doomed to fail, because it hinged on getting the Democratic Senate — and Obama himself — to agree to defund Obamacare.
And this group of conservatives was correct. Despite the fact that government has shut down and the Republican leadership has dug in, there are no signs that Democrats are closer to buckling and defunding Obamacare. In fact, it’s not even being discussed.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., is organizing a group of pragmatic conservatives, hoping to create a counterweight to the Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers that have thwarted House GOP leadership strategy leading up to, and during, the government shutdown.
Nunes corralled five Republican members, whom he declined to name, but told the Washington Examiner that he expects membership to grow to a dozen. Frustrated that a hardline minority of House Republicans stymied the strategies and legislation supported by a majority of the caucus, Nunes said the group intends to withhold their votes from any bill that does not garner the support of at least 208 of the 232 Republicans in the House…
“We’ve got to get out of this mess and we’ve got to hold our conference accountable, especially those who created this mess in the first place,” Nunes said. “We’re just turning it around and showing that this can be done by anybody.”
The GOP’s 2010 revival was not really the result of anything it did. Beyond, “You’re mad at Obama and so are we”, there were no policy initiatives, no new messaging strategies, just the good fortune of having an opponent who over played their hand. There were some new faces certainly and an anti-DC business as usual attitude, but leadership of the party remained with people who were just a notch below the old guard when the ship went onto the rocks in the first place. When the energy of the “tea party” turns into the speakership of John Boehner, there’s a disconnect between what Republicans voters want and who is supposed to be delivering it. I understand why it’s that way but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a marriage of convenience rather than conviction…
There’s clearly a faction of the party (the entrenched professional class) that saw the victories of 2010 as simply an opportunity to return to business as usual. There was no real urgency to roll back the Obama agenda of 09-10, just to accept the ground lost and move on. Oh sure there were plenty of votes to repeal ObamaCare but not when it really counted. In divided government only a handful of bills are going to pass. If you don’t hitch your wagon to one of the few “must pass” pieces of legislation, you’re really just putting on a show for the folks back home.
Enter the establishments new favorite conservative villains…the Senate Conservative Fund, Heritage Action and The Club for Growth. The knock on these groups is that they spend far more time attacking Republicans than Democrats. And to a large extent, it’s a fair description. But that ignores the problem they are trying to solve…weak kneed Republicans who left to their own devices will revert to their big spending, go-along, get-along ways.
The fact of the matter is, given past performance, Republican office holders do need an enforcer looking over their shoulders. I like to think of these groups not as “the enemy within” but as the “motivation squad”. If you aren’t a self-motivator, most people will take the path of least resistance. For Republican officeholders, that often means giving in to the DC mindset that their job is to manage the train and keep it running to the benefit of those who pay the freight. Well, these conservative groups are serving as the eyes and ears (and occasionally the clinched fist) of conservative voters back home who sent people to DC to slow the train down and eventually put it on a different track.
“I mean his sidekick, Senator [Mike] Lee said, ‘Oh, we’re past Obamacare. We moved on.’ These are the generals who lead people into the Battle of [the] Little Bighorn and then go home and have lunch and leave the troops out there? Where are they? Where are the generals? What’s their strategy to get abolition of Obamcare?” Krauthammer said…
“I argued [to repeal Obamacare] in ‘09 and ‘10. I argued it every week in my writing, on television…all of us were in the trenches. Cruz arrives on the scene and pretends he’s just begun the fight against Obamacare,” Krauthammer said.
He continued, “I’ve been calling this the ‘kamikaze brigade’… ‘the suicide caucus.’ I’m all for charging the barricades, but you’ve got to show me how to penetrate them…And people are saying Republicans are in retreat. They’re not in retreat, there never was a way to abolish Obamacare now,” Krauthammer said.
“This ongoing effort to defund or to delay is what has exposed Obama,” Limbaugh told his listeners. “That’s what’s created this groundswell of public opinion opposed to Obama. That’s why Obama’s at 37 percent. But the conservative commentariat, the establishment Republicans, say, ‘Oh, no, no! That was childish, that was immature, that was risky. That was just risky.’ But, I tell you what: They come around and say, ‘This piecemeal business — fund this and fund that — that’s brilliant. That’s brilliant.’”
And what’s frustrating, Limbaugh said, is that “none of this would be happening if it hadn’t been for the defund and delay strategy of Cruz and Lee and the people who joined them.”
“So the point is that the establishment is still hell-bent on demolishing and discrediting the Tea Party and the Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and whoever else was involved coalition,” he said.
If Cruz and Lee hadn’t put the focus on defunding Obamacare, Limbaugh argued “the Republicans would have long ago caved.”