Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

The usual voices are condemning the Republicans for their usual vices over the government shutdown.  The mainstream media is all upset about Republican extremism, and the conservative mainstream is all upset about the Republican stupidity or, alternatively, cowardice.

And there's the third voice attacking Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for imagining that he could stop Obamacare with one filibuster.
I suggest that before moving that discussion forward we acknowledge and bewail the barren naïveté of those Republicans — are you listening, Sen. Cruz ?— who thought all they had to do to make Obamacare go away was fold their arms and clamp their jaws.
No, no, no, William Murchison.  Ted Cruz did not imagine that he could stick his finger in the Obamacare dyke.  He was just establishing his bona fides as a fighter for conservative principle.  He was merely running for president in 2016.

The result of the shutdown thus far, according to the Rasmussen Poll, is that the president's popularity has upticked a couple percent, from 45-48% to 47-50%.  Why?  You can see the reason in the plot of the Strongly Approve / Strongly Disapprove numbers.  Strongly Approve has gone from about 23% to 28% in the last couple of weeks.  Strongly Disapprove hasn't moved, although it is showing signs of increasing from the 39% area.

So the net result so far has been to gin up the president's support among his supporters which is, presumably, the president's strategy for the 2014 midterms.

But my overall feeling is that the president's constant attempt to demonize and corner the Republican opposition is just bad politics -- quite apart from it's being bad statesmanship.

If you ask me there is a reason why presidents usually work with the other side and avoid unnecessary partisanship.  It's because they know it's not good politics to humiliate the opposition and then rub salt in their wounds.  That's a really good way to get the opposition burning with a desire for revenge.

President Obama seems really to believe in the Saul Alinsky school of politics, in which you rile up your marginalized supporters to take it to the Man; you embarrass City Hall or the employers to make them follow their own rules, to personalize and demonize.

But the Alinsky Rules assume that you, the community organizer, are the outsider, and that you, because you are the outsider, don't have to follow the rules because you don't have the power.

That's not what's going on here.  President Obama is the Man: he's the president.  The mainstream media is the ruling class.  They are the ones that must follow the rules because if they don't then it makes no sense for the conservatives, as the insurgents, to abide by the rules either.

The Rules, liberals, are there for the government and the ruling class to follow.  When the government follows the rules then people afraid of injustice, afraid of being on somebody's "list" can rest easy in their beds.  Unjust as this administration may be, the insurgents can say to themselves, at least the government follows the law.

But President Obama and the liberals don't seem to think that they have any obligation to follow the law, or be seen to follow the law.  The president seems to think that he can do whatever he can get away with: Obamacare waivers for powerful special interests, delay in employer mandate, IRS obstruction of Tea Party groups.

Put it this way.  If a Republican president were doing what the Obamis are doing the mainstream media would be hysterical.  There would be daily above-the-fold front page coverage in The New York Times.  The left-wing activists would be staging daily rent-a-mob protests.  We would all know about the new imperial presidency that was worse than Richard Nixon and scandals that were worse than Watergate.

At this point, we do not know how angry the voters are about the Obama strategy of division and name-calling.  That's because Republicans aren't allowed to indulge in hysteria.  And because the mainstream media doesn't know any Republicans and doesn't know what is going on in their minds.

We will only know the answer to this in November 2014.

But my guess is that a deep and powerful outrage is building in the breasts of the conservative independents.  The point is that all government, any government, excites rage in the breasts of everyone but its unthinking supporters.  There's no mystery about this.  Government is force; government is injustice.  And government makes people angry when the force and the injustice is done to them.  That's why we get "throw the bums out" elections; that's why sixth-year midterms are usually a disaster for the president's party.

So go right ahead Mr. President with your division and demonization.  In the opinion of this humble writer you are digging a grave for Democratic hopes in the next two election cycles that will be used as a cautionary tale for up-and-coming political operatives for the next fifty years.

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