Maybe it's an indication that I watched too much TV as a kid, but lately the political scene in Washington keeps reminding me of cartoon characters. A few weeks back I formulated my Bullwinkle Factor view of the Presidency. Watching the Republicans at work in the Congress since the elections has led me to another postulate that I'm going to name in honor of the world's favorite cartoon canine.
So, to clarify -- the essential plot of every Roadrunner cartoon was to follow the ever-failing Coyote in his efforts to capture the Roadrunner, using any means he could contrive except what would work best, his natural talent as a predator. How is this like the Republicans, then?
More to the point, how is it not? To anyone with eyes to see, the message of the voters in November was that we want the Republicans to repeal Obamacare, cut taxes and spending, and limit the growth and power of government. I would liken this message to the Coyote's talents as a predator. If the Republicans clearly and effectively pursue these goals they will likely gain control of the Senate, and probably the White House, in 2012. Not easily accomplished, of course, but any progress in this direction can only win them more support among sane members of our population.
Anyone who has watched the Republicans in the last 20 years, of course, knows that their greatest talent is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Merely days after the election, John Boehner made noises that he was looking for a compromise with Obama on the tax rates question. This notion was quickly slapped down by conservative opinion, Boehner backtracked, and conservative gurus such as Michael Medved assured the restless that this was an abberation, that Boehner was committed to doing the right thing.
Now here it is just weeks before Christmas, and what to our wondering eyes should appear? The Republican leadership and the President have met in secret and hammered out a deal. The tax rates would be extended but for only two years, and in exchange the Republicans would allow the President to spend yet more billions for another 13 months of unemployment compensation, and to raise taxes elsewhere (the estate tax). This is the best deal that the Republicans could possibly get at this point, they tell us.
The reaction from conservatives and the tea party element has been slow at first, but it is gaining momentum. They hate it. This deal and other behavior from the Republican leadership is confirming their suspicions that the leadership still doesn't understand the magnitude of what happened on November 2nd. Establishment Republicans in and out of Congress are trying to calm things down, apparently suffering the delusion that they are actually in control of events here.
What is most amazing about this is that the Democrats are within spitting distance of open revolt against the President, and not only on the question of tax rates. At this writing the Democrats in the House have voted to not approve the compromise as it stands, and it is doubtful that there will be enough votes for it in the Senate, either. So the Republicans may yet come out ahead in this in spite of their own efforts, as the Democrats rip each other to shreds over any perceived betrayal by Obama of their cherished leftist ideals.
Chalk it up to my youthful overexposure to television, but to me the best possible deal to be gotten here would be witnessing the President self-destruct like some malevolent alien on Star Trek, climaxing in a great explosion that leaves no trace of the trouble before. That probably won't happen, but I do think that if the Republicans don't get their act together, we're going to see a political bloodbath in both parties come 2012.