Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Counting Hard

Some foolish liberals, back in 2009-2010, used to blame Barack Obama for things when the actual problem (from their perspective) was that they just didn't have the votes in the Senate. But, to be fair, that was somewhat complicated: Democrats had a large majority, and I can definitely understand the frustration when that large party majority didn't actually work out to a policy majority (in some cases a supermajority, but often just any regular majority) for some specific liberal policies. 

So if I called them out on it then, I should probably make note of this utter nonsense from shutdown advocate Erick Erickson:
Throughout this fight, Harry Reid has outsmarted Mitch McConnell. Repeatedly, Reid used the Senate’s rules to toss aside numerous proposals from the House while McConnell looked on not knowing how to fight back.

Reid knows how to beat McConnell. If Reid fights hard, McConnell backs down and tries to blame others. McConnell’s lieutenants attack Ted Cruz so “the Leader” can deflect from his own legislative impotence. And he continually is one step behind Reid in his knowledge of how to use the Senate’s complicated rules to win a fight.
Senate rules are in fact complicated. In this particular case, however, the obscure rule Harry Reid relied upon was...take a vote, and the side with the most votes wins.

If you want to get into technicalities, I suppose you can, but none of them mattered. I mean, the Senate was able to pass a clean CR thanks to complicated manipulation of the rules while the Senate failed to pass a clean debt limit increase because Republicans mounted a successful filibuster, but it didn't matter at all -- not at all -- whether those things passed or not. All that mattered was that...well, I was going to say that all that mattered was that McConnell didn't have the votes to pass a "defund" CR, but that's not even true; what mattered was that neither the House nor the Senate had the votes to override a veto on a "defund' CR.

Yes, yes, everyone who understands anything about Congress knows all of that. But Erickson either doesn't know it, or is pretending he doesn't. After all, his remedy is to declare war not on Democratic Senators in marginal seats who voted with their party in this fight, but on McConnell and the other squishes.

The real question is whether sane Republicans are going to fight back against this malarkey. I doubt it; I don't think a couple of weeks of lousy polling is going to be anywhere near enough to overcome what's broken about the GOP.

The perverse incentives for folks like Erickson are still there -- I'm sure he's done quite well from the shutdown. And it's still the case that Republicans see Tea Partiers as a positive force in their 2010 win, just as they saw Newt as responsible for 1994, so even the electoral effects appear far murkier than they actually are.

But at least there's a chance -- no certainty, but a chance -- that we won't go through one of these again for a while.


  1. The thing about Erickson is that he strikes me as being earnest about the whole thing. I don't think he does it for the money like some other folks. He's just blinded by ideological fanaticism.

  2. It's amazing how much the simple fact that to enact your policy agenda you need to control a majority has escaped Republicans. Even when they were primarying Lieberman, Democrats still understood who the real enemies were.

    In 2006 Democrats backed the likes of Donna Edwards and Ned Lamont, who would be guaranteed wins in deep-blue seats. Even after a once-in-a-generation landslide in 2010, Republicans still don't have a majority of House seats controlled by Tea Partiers. If it didn't happen in 2010, it's not going to happen.

    When liberal Democrats pushed for "More and Better Democrats", then knew that it had to come in that order.

  3. Does Fox News allow the Tea Party outsized influence over the Republican Party? They seem to take the Tea Party's governance methods much more seriously than they do the reasonable party actors, or at the very least make it a 50-50 split, despite their minority status in both houses of Congress.

    1. Obviously you can include Erickson and many actors and hucksters in the Closed Information Loop Circuit, but Fox seems to be the major platform for Conservatives and they seem to be tipping the scales for the Tea Party and the CC.

    2. As I recall Fox News was a major party in creating the tea party. They gave extensive coverage to early tea party rallies that attracted few people. Just the prospect of being seen and heard on national TV had to be a big boost.

    3. You're totally right. I guess I wonder if that will have to be adjusted as the pretty visible fissure in the GOP expands.

  4. "Oy, Erickson" is a badly neede PB feature.

  5. I agree completely that the "perverse incentives" of roiling up conflict was behind this. The question will be whether the penalty voters inflict will be greater than those incentives. The early retrospective reaction (although at this moment nobody's actually voted yet in Congress!) is promising. Does it fade or snowball? It will probably depend on the skills of politicians to make it central in 2014. And my guess is that if it continues to snowball for the next couple of months, it will deter another round if it looks like it will affect elections. There aren't that many really safe seats, especially if this energizes competitive Dems to run.

  6. That Erickson post is full of nonsense.

    1. He 'predicts' (actually declares) that Obama is going to delay Obamacare *anyway*. As his maneuver was to pass a DC, keep the shutdown, and go for delay that outcome *should* be victory--but now it's utter defeat?

    2. He declares that the bridges between the GOP and Obama will burn. That totally ignores the intra-GOP nature of the conflict: Obama was barely involved in this and his own post isn't about war with Obama--it's about primarying insufficiently TrueCon GOP members.

    If bridges are to be burned--going ONLY by is very own blog post--they'll be between factions of the GOP.

    Yeah: there's a bunch of stuff in that which he's saying because he's totally pissed off--but hopes you won't catch on to.


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