I tried to read John Boehner’s and Mitch McConnell’s post-victory Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal this morning. I really did. Unfortunately, I only got one paragraph in before my head exploded.
Americans have entrusted Republicans with control of both the House and Senate. We are humbled by this opportunity to help struggling middle-class Americans who are clearly frustrated by an increasing lack of opportunity, the stagnation of wages, and a government that seems incapable of performing even basic tasks.
It’s that “incapable of performing even basic tasks” bit that left my poor cranium lying in pieces on the floor. What you’re seeing here is the final stage of the Republicans’ long-term strategy for the Obama era. Step one was to make government incapable of performing basic tasks. Step two was to campaign on government dysfunction and lay all the blame for it on President Obama and Harry Reid. Step three is to promise that, after four years of gumming up the works, they’re here to fix the problem they created.
And it worked, so bully for them! But there’s a whole lot of chutzpah wrapped up in the one little phrase. The government shutdown of 2013, the debt-limit fiascoes, the fiscal cliff – everything that comes to mind when you think of the recent inability of government to perform basic functions is attributable to the GOP’s unwillingness to actually let government function, which was motivated by antipathy towards the president and his policies. The inability to pass bills on major issues? The House GOP said out loud and in public that they weren’t going to legislate because it would make them look bad. We all lived through it, we all saw it play out in real time. The fact that Republicans paid no political price for literally preventing the government from functioning last October is galling enough, now they’re claiming to be the antidote to the poison they administered.
And it’s all garbage anyway. The lede of McConnell’s and Boehner’s Op-Ed promises a cure to government dysfunction. The second paragraph promises a resumption of government dysfunction:
Looking ahead to the next Congress, we will honor the voters’ trust by focusing, first, on jobs and the economy. Among other things, that means a renewed effort to debate and vote on the many bills that passed the Republican-led House in recent years with bipartisan support, but were never even brought to a vote by the Democratic Senate majority. It also means renewing our commitment to repeal ObamaCare, which is hurting the job market along with Americans’ health care.
McConnell and Boehner are going to make government work again by resuming a dead-end, though ideologically and politically necessary, crusade to undo the president’s signature domestic accomplishment. They know Obama will veto anything they pass. They can’t get their own members to rally around a replacement healthcare plan or any sort of strategy to ensure that the millions of people who’ve benefited from the Affordable Care Act won’t lose their coverage and be thrown back into the pre-ACA no-man’s land of chronic uninsurance.
Their first step in making government work for the people is a fruitless, partisan fight that, if they won, would result in government hurting people. But whatever, let’s just keep on pretending that the GOP is here to compromise and bring on a new era of constructive governance.