Days into the shutdown, the Tea Party Sect of the Republican Party continues to be generally ornery and intractable while the shutdown has forced thousands of workers to be laid off and massive work stoppages to domino across our country. There already has been incalculable economic loss and damage worsens daily.
Speaker Boehner, in full dudgeon on the Sunday ABC News program “This Week,” proclaimed, “The fact is, this fight was going to come one way or another.”
Well, after picking that fight with a lose-lose argument based totally on stinky politics Boehner has found himself backed into a corner, and that stink is already rubbing off on him.
Mr. Boehner, who hails from Reading, Ohio where the local vernacular may be a little tamer than it is in Texas, is trying to get President Obama into what is colorfully referred to in the Lone Star state as a “skunk pissing contest.” Well, you wouldn't get in a pissing contest with a skunk, and neither will the President.
That malodorous metaphor aptly applies to the hard line mindset of a small clot of clueless conservatives in the Republican Party who have been all reared up and spraying away at just about everything recently. And of course there aren't any winners in that kind of fetid fight.
They are so busy producing a gagging yellow cloud over the Capitol they have blocked the view in the U.S. House and are holding hostage a vote on the regular yeoman legislative responsibilities of approving a new budget and adjusting the debt ceiling.
This has routinely been done for decades to allow established Federal accounting protocol to pay the debts racked up with Congressional approval. Debts which will come due in just a few days. Interestingly, there was no Republican ruckus when George W, Bush raised the debt ceiling eight times during his two terms in office.
Meanwhile the government has been brought to a standstill and the threat to our international political and economic standing could not come at a worse time because America has been showing steady upward progress out of a long recession.
But we have been forced here before, suffering national hostage taking by recalcitrant Republicans.
How could we ever forget Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning, when in March 2010 he popped up from the back benches of the Senate and righteously proclaimed, “We cannot keep adding to the debt. It’s over $14 trillion and going up fast.” And, exercising a rarely used Senate procedure, he singlehandedly blocked a bill that would have extended unemployment benefits for thousands, and also forced a stop on the extension of the Highway Trust Fund for 30 days.
This resulted in the furloughing of 2,000 federal workers and a tidal wave of other work stoppages.
Bunning spitefully held things up causing a huge expensive mess until he eventually relented in the face of strong peer pressure. In the last of months of his tenure as a U.S. Senator he saw his approval rating fall to 28% back home in Kentucky. He lashed out at his fellow Kentucky Senator, then Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, calling him a “control freak” among other things.
With his approval ratings in the dumper, Bunning ultimately did not run for reelection and backed an outsider, Rand Paul, for his Senate seat. Paul won and now keeps the requisite crankiness going as a new Kentucky Senator.
This little refresher from just a few of years ago should bring back even more memories of the first real example of Tea-Party-fueled conservatism which almost caused a government shutdown in April, 2011.
Literally at the 11th hour was there an agreement on a cobbled together temporary budget halting the shutdown. But great damage had already been caused by the mere thought of the United States defaulting. The agreement did nothing to solve the nation's debt and deficit woes, and it didn't solve any of the non-spending problems either.
Today's ideological, clueless newbie Tea Partiers seem to have no idea what their Blitzkrieg approach to politics is doing to the country, and worse, they don't seem to care about approval ratings and certainly have no use for rational give and take.
First thing they must do is to stop the skunk pissing contests, clear the air and then maybe Boehner can find some copies of "Legislating for Dummies" to hand out to his new buddies.
Then as a courtesy to the rest of the U.S. House, they might try bathing in catsup using a stiff scrub brush to get the stink off of them. It worked on my dog after he got too close to one of those ornery varmints.
Graphic montage by Larry Ray