18 September 2013

Obamacare will be a disaster -- for the Republicans

It's a curious point about extremists that, however much they hate the perceived "enemy" group, what they hate even more is those members of their own group who aren't quite so ready to hate the enemy group.  These days, on right-wing sites like RedState or Hot Air, most of the vitriol isn't being aimed at Democrats.  By far the greater part of it is aimed at Republicans who aren't fighting the Democrats fanatically enough.

What's going on?  Crunch time is approaching for the implementation of Obamacare, the right wing's latest candidate for Satan incarnate.  Exchanges will open next month and people will be able to get actual coverage starting in January.  The fire-breathers of teabaggerdom are desperate to stop it by any means necessary.  Normal options for doing so are exhausted -- the law was passed by both houses three years ago and has been upheld by the Supreme Court, and everyone knows that the 40-odd repeal votes staged by House Republicans were just empty posturing.  Teabaggerdom is pinning its hopes on legislative hostage-taking -- using upcoming votes on a continuing resolution on routine spending and on raising the debt ceiling to force defunding of Obamacare by threatening disaster (a government shutdown or a default on the national debt) unless Democrats cave.

Saner and more experienced Republicans know that such schemes would fail and backfire.  Obama will not back down and let them destroy the defining achievement of his Presidency, and Democrats know they have the upper hand since the public would blame Republicans for the shutdown or default; they would simply wait for Republicans to blink first.  Not only would hostage-taking fail to stop Obamacare, but voters fed up with Republican histrionics and brinkmanship would punish them in the 2014 election.  Old-line Republicans like Boehner and McConnell will make a few rhetorical and procedural gestures toward defunding-by-blackmail, but balk at actually strapping on the suicide-bomber vest.

The fire-breathers will have none of that.  To them, any compromise with the Democrats or with reality itself is an outrageous betrayal.  They hardly have any energy left over to attack Democrats after all their fervent denunciation of McConnell, Boehner, RINOs, "squishes", etc.  If, as now seems likely, Congressional Republicans brush aside the efforts of the teabaggers in their midst (like Cruz and Lee) and let the continuing resolution and the debt-ceiling rise go through without kamikaze attacks on Obamacare, then I shudder to contemplate the reaction.  The crazies have worked themselves up into a conviction that Obamacare taking effect is the end-game, the death of the Republic, the annihilation of mom and apple pie.  This isn't an argument about a law, it's an epic battle between good and evil.  And whoever allows the demons to defeat the angels might as well be a demon himself.

Combine this with the widespread conviction that the defeats of 2008 and 2012 stemmed from nominating moderates instead of True Conservatives, and the stage is set for a real split next year.  The fire-breathers are threatening more primary challenges of the kind that delivered O'Donnell, Angle, Akin, Mourdock, etc. and cost the Republicans seats they could otherwise have won.  Winning against Democrats hardly seems to be on their mental horizon at all.  The battle-cry is: Get the RINOs out.  Even where primary challenges fail, willingness to stay home or vote for third candidates seems higher than ever.  Republican Congressional leaders have apparently decided this is less of a risk than further alienating the mainstream is, and in the long run they're right -- the party must appeal to voters beyond the base in order to remain viable.  But the shorter term -- which won't be all that short -- looks rocky.

Another factor at work is that many Republicans (not only the extremists) are so convinced that Obamacare will be a disaster that they think they can sit back and watch public backlash against the law do the heavy lifting for them in 2014 and 2016, sweeping Democrats out of office.  In fact, while polls show "Obamacare", so designated, to be fairly unpopular (hardly surprising since Republicans have put so much energy into spreading misinformation about it), the individual specific actual things that it does are polling much better.  Inevitably, implementation glitches have happened and will continue to do so, and Republicans are doing everything they can to sabotage the law in states they control -- but when Obamacare has been in effect for a while and the public has seen its actual results, and the expected backlash doesn't materialize, Republicans will be left scrambling for an alternative strategy.

We shouldn't be complacent about 2014.  Off-year low turnouts favor Republicans, as we saw in 2010.  But if this mitigates or cancels out their losses, it will simply embolden the crazies to continue their anti-moderate rampage in 2016.  If they nominate a passel of Akinesque bunglers to carry on a quixotic crusade against what by then will be a normal part of the social safety net like Social Security and Medicare, they'll find out that things can go even worse for them than in 2008 and 2012.

Update 1:  Hah!  Mere hours after I finished writing this, Boehner appears to have opted for a kamikaze attack after all, while Democrats don't seem inclined to give in.  Keep your eye on news sites like TPM, Crooks & Liars, and Daily Kos for analysis.  My overall point is, if anything, strengthened -- teabaggerdom's obsession with destroying Obamacare is pushing Republicans into a destructive adventure for which voters will punish them severely.

Update 2 (Sept. 19):  On closer examination, I'm not convinced that Boehner's ploy amounts to any more than the "rhetorical and procedural gestures toward defunding-by-blackmail" I anticipated above.  With Boehner's original statement that the Senate is "where the fight is" and now Cruz's retort that "House Republicans must stand firm" when Reid sends back a clean CR, the whole thing has the appearance of House and Senate Republicans tossing a hot potato back and forth, both knowing they don't dare bring a shutdown, but both desperately hoping to avoid being blamed by the lunatic base when the effort collapses.  Bring on the popcorn.

Update 3:  Holy $#!T, look at this comment thread at RedState.  Until this morning, Cruz was the shining hero of the wingnutosphere, leading the charge to destroy the ACA.  Now he's being called a coward, a blowhard, "nothing more than a hairdo", etc., all for simply acknowledging that Senate Republicans can't sustain a filibuster of a clean CR since a few Republicans will side with the Democrats.  How fast they turn on their own, even for being unable to do the impossible!

[Image at top by Mario Piperni.]

6 Comments:

Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

I hate to use the cliche of "cornered rats," but a more apt description of their behavior doesn't come to mind.

It is obvious that their worst nightmare, Obamacare implementation and success, is looming, and they are determined to go down fighting and screeching at the top of their muroidan lungs.

18 September, 2013 07:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent picture! I enjoy all your photos too. Thank you.

18 September, 2013 08:52  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Shaw: Well, Boehner's gone for the cheese. Let's see how hard the mousetrap snaps shut.

Anonymous: There's more where that came from.

18 September, 2013 09:45  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

We all knew this shutdown shit was coming, how often do they pull this crap these dayz? ... quarterly? ... semi annually? ... I was writing about this crap what? ...a few year's back? I had to push the button this morning on the tele to mute the sound on CNN and the media's, because it's so boring having to listen to these fear card's from the GOP (a party that helped draft so called 'ObamaCare' at that, and bloody approved it!) about how the government will shut down etc, etc ... I done a series called "Government Shut- Em Down" or similar title a few year's back detailing all this rubbish. I stand the same way I did back then still ... tell me your gonna shut down the government if I dont kiss ya'll's asses ... I'll tell them to go f**k themselves and let it close down and hope that they all lose their damn job's too ... bunch of f'n worthless parasite's and a waste of the American peoples time and f'n energy!

Word Out ....

19 September, 2013 08:23  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ranch: Shutdown shit? Let's just call it a shitdown..... It's increasingly obvious that they're just posturing, but who can really blame them -- their base is acting like a bunch of demonically-possessed rabid pit bulls with their nuts caught in a mousetrap. As for them losing their jobs, in a little over 13 months we'll have a chance to arrange that!

19 September, 2013 11:18  
Blogger ted mills said...

Thanks Shaw for using the word muroidan! Had to look it up...

19 September, 2013 11:45  

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