John Boehner and Mitch McConnell never seemed likely to retain more than titular roles leading their respective congressional bodies. When they appeared to embrace the new Republican revolution, it was clearly more Stanislavski than Trotsky. Understanding that rank and file Republicans in 2010 were drinking out of a severely polluted water supply chocked with nasty, insanity inducing superbugs, they surely knew deep down in their quasi hearts that partisan and reactionary as they were, it wouldn’t cut the mustard with their pitchfork brandishing mobs.
The Republican Party, whether its ideologically hardscrabble hardcore is fully aware or not, is a wholly owned subsidiary of large corporations, business interests, energy and financial sectors. Profit is job one. The prospect of an economic death spiral as the result of government default may stimulate the saliva glands of the party’s troops in the field, but the party’s owners foresee a double-over gut punch to their bottom lines. McConnell and Boehner know this, and the interests of their employers seldom stray far from their thoughts.
McConnell’s triple-reverse half-gainer on the debt ceiling yesterday in which he took a dive from a hot diving board of defiance into the cool surrender of an abstruse plan that passes the buck to Obama was a sight to see. If you’re a Republican, and Wall Street and the Chamber of Commerce are breathing down your neck, cue Ned Beatty’s fire and brimstone line from NETWORK, ‘You have meddled with the primal forces of nature.” You’re damn right they have.
Boiled down, McConnell’s proposal is to allow President Obama to raise the debt ceiling all by his lonesome, but only after Republicans in Congress take the opportunity to cast a couple of largely symbolic votes declaring what a bad, bad, really bad thing raising the debt ceiling is. Obviously McConnell and Boehner smell the American public’s looming retribution and electoral rebuke for being the stubborn asses who brought the economy screeching to a dead halt, with the ensuing misery. It’s one thing to ascend to the congressional stage to declaim an intransigent, absolutist, ideological stand, it’s another thing not to get your social security check if you’re eighty and need it to live on, are a business traveler waiting to get a passport and can’t, or the poor martyr who loses his job, life savings or home for the glory of the revolution.
What comes to mind is a scene from Dr. Zhivago. The captured Yuri tells Strelnikov in his rolling office on a train that Srelnikov’s forces have burned the wrong village as retribution for trading horses to the enemy. Strelnikov answers Yuri that it doesn’t matter which village is burned, “the point is made.” Yuri responds, “Your point, their village.”
Well, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, sympathetic as they may be to the ideological goals of the revolutionary orthodoxy, also are keenly aware that the Eric Cantors and Teabagger zealots of the world are about to make their point by burning villages to the ground inhabited by a lot of Republican constituents, not to mention the rest of the country’s citizenry who will have fire in their eyes for Republican hides if they are perceived as bringing this debacle down on the heads of innocent Americans. That, by the way, is a perception McConnell and Boehner are painfully aware is slowly being sealed in the minds of the American people at this very moment.
Republican leadership is now for all intents and purposes a papier-mâché firewall trying to hold back a flow of hot lava. The coconuts who vote in the Republican primaries are running the show now, and their hot flames are melting everything in their path, including any remaining illusions on the part of McConnell and Boehner that they are in charge of anything.
The reality is, the Republican Party is paying the price for the “energy” drawn to its cause in the recent elections by its monster raving loonies, its rank and file all but ungovernable and impossible to lead. The Republican Party has veered so far off the ideological grid into the ideological hinterlands, common sense has long seemed to indicate it would be too hot to handle for America’s centrist-worshiping electorate, and moderate hued democracy.
Now the fun is watching this roiling mass of Hee-Haw insurrectionaries and exotic ideologues with their various nostalgic, draconian, crackpot and fantastical nostrums wrestle it out for control, at least temporarily, of the Republican Party. As with all burgeoning revolutionary fervor, the fervor here is destined to splinter the fire-carriers into shouting sectarian rivalries and gnat-hair splitting schisms as the revolution devolves.
One more absolutely inescapable movie reference, this one from Mel Brooks’ HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART ONE:
Count De Monet – Sir, the peasants are revolting!
King Louis – You said it. They stink on ice.