Shutdown Losers? The American People

The great and partial government shutdown of 2013 is still over.

It seems that a rather large majority of the American people blame the GOP, in general—and the Tea Party, in particular—for what happened. This is the same American people whom Republican Senator Ted Cruz, the gadfly and patron saint of the get-rid-of-Obamacare movement at all costs who convinced Tea Party diehards in the house that this was a smart move, professed to be looking out for.

As an unsuccessful for a city council seat once said in response to finishing last in a multiple-candidate race: “The people have spoken—the bastards.”

Actually, the people are the smart ones in this shutdown that should never have happened. They are also the victims, a fact that still seems not to have gotten through the heads of people like Cruz, and Misters Boehner, Lee, Issa and their ilk. After 24 billion in lost moneys to the United States Government and U.S. taxpayers, after thousands of government job and man hours and paychecks lost for almost a month and a near-default avoided only at the last moment, it was the rest of the country that lost. And isn’t it strange that the guy who couldn’t muster a quorum or wouldn’t call a vote actually had 88 Republicans vote for the deal—a punt to January—faster than you could say let’s get out of town.

“We fought the good fight and we lost,” said a resigned—just a mood, not a fact—House Speaker John Boehner. Wrong, Mr. Speaker. You lost, but so did the American people and it was not a good fight. It was stupid, wrongheaded, irresponsible and reckless fight, and in terms of Mr. Cruz, cynical. This was the guy who kept telling everybody that the polls weren’t harming the GOP, that the fight was winnable, and, standing in front of World War II veterans being used as a photo op at the WWII Memorial, wondered out loud who could do such a thing as keep the vets from seeing the memorial. Why you could, Mr. Cruz. Cruz was unrepentant in the end and insisted that he would “do anything necessary to get rid of Obamacare.”

Everybody else, including many angry veteran Republicans in the House and the Senate, were angry at the backlash, at the fruitless stratagem which may have, if not fatally, certainly seriously hurt the GOP’s politically. But then this was never more about anything else but politics. I heard a cabdriver hesitantly tell me in response to the shutdown, which hurt cab drivers in their pockets, like everyone else in this city, that it seems strange to foreigners that America still insists on telling other countries how to run their affairs when they can’t seem to be able to run their own. The politics of dysfunction and paralysis seems pretty obvious to everyone.

With Obamacare seemingly about to implode under the burden of—get this, too many people unable to get on the website—it seems likely the GOP will now settle for calling for hearings with the intent of permanently downsizing Kathleen Sibelius, head of the Department of Health and Human Services, at least for now. Most people think the GOP could not possibly push for another shutdown scenario. Don’t count on it. January next is coming fast. Do your Christmas shopping now.

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Thu, 27 Nov 2014 19:16:10 -0500

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