Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 14, 2010

IS THE GOP AFRAID TO GOVERN?.... In April, NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) was speculating about his expectations for the midterm elections. With Republican hopes sky-high, Sessions said anything less than a GOP takeover of the House is worth "a warm bucket of spit."

The message has changed quite a bit since April.

Last month, NRCC Recruitment Chair Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that some leading Republicans have told him privately that they want to make gains -- but not enough to actually get a majority. This attitude is apparently more widespread than I'd expected.

Republicans have been engaging in some premature drape-measuring for a few months in anticipation of winning back control of the House of Representatives. Some top GOP aides privately admit that they got ahead of themselves.

Turns out, not all Republicans are rooting for their own to win the House.

"I want Republicans to make massive gains but I want them to fall one vote short of taking the House," said Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary to President George W. Bush. "I want to see more evidence that Republicans are ready to govern. I want to see more substance, particularly on what spending they will cut."

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who has been tasked with recruiting candidates by House Minority Leader John Boehner, confirmed that this view is held by numerous party operatives and leaders, though none in Congress.

There are apparently a variety of factors driving this motivation -- including the notion that President Obama would be more likely to win a second term if he ran against a GOP House -- but the core concern seems to be that governing next year will be hard, and their proposed cuts might spark a backlash, so Republicans might as well let Dems worry about doing the heavy lifting.

DNC spokesperson Hari Sevugan said fear of holding the House is a sign that "Republicans aren't interested in producing solutions to America's problems."

I think this truth was already apparent, but I suppose it's helpful to have another reminder.

Steve Benen 10:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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You know the GOP's in trouble when Fleischer is posing as one of its leaders.

Posted by: penalcolony on June 14, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

So... Republican political culture is famous for ignoring any long-term policy goal in order to enhance short-term tactical advantages... but now we hear that they don't actually want to win elections. Is this politics or is it some sort of passive-aggressive dysfunctional relationship behavior?

Posted by: MattF on June 14, 2010 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, Ari Fleischer is positioning himself in the grown-up wing of GOP. Who would have thunk?

Posted by: g. powell on June 14, 2010 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Chicken is a noun that goes with replublican. First there is Chicken Sue, now there is Chicken Shit Sessons.

Posted by: Ted76 on June 14, 2010 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans might as well let Dems worry about doing the heavy lifting

Shorter: Keep the grownups in charge

Posted by: Marko on June 14, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Republicanism is now the credo that government doesn't work and shouldn't work. It's anarchism for exurbanites and the gated-community set.

Posted by: walt on June 14, 2010 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

WOW, do you mean that REPUGS might actually care more about their jobs/future than what could be best for the COUNTRY??? Yegods, how did that happen...course that's not true for DEMS or the purist progressive/liberals that are more about their positions than what actually might be done to move the ball down the field...labels need to GO!!!! Start trying to figure out how to get the information you need to make informed choices and decisions...and GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!!!

Posted by: Dancer on June 14, 2010 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Problem with Fleischer's dream is that a one vote near miss would have the GOP campaign crew thinking that "The Party of 'No'" is a winning strategy destined to take over the House by wide margins in 2012. Any interest Republicans might have in governing would vanish with this level of success.

Fleischer and his well-intentioned (if all too quiet) brethren should be hoping for a devastating loss. Such a slap in the face might have them taking good budgets seriously. They need a tonic so strong that they'll put tax increases and defense on the table and not rely on destroying Medicare and Social Security as the only cures to the red ink.

I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on June 14, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans like to win elections, but govern?

Eh, not so much.

I have thought all along that the media-meme of a "Republican Rout" was wrong. I think we'll lose some seats that maybe we shouldn't have won in the first place, but a "change in Congress" - no way.

Hope I'm not being Pollyannish, though...

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on June 14, 2010 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Here's what it sounds like to me. They want enough votes and power to completely screw the Dems in Congress, so that absolutely nothing of substance gets done, while not actually being responsible for doing anything themselves. This way they can muck (with an 'f') up the works, stall, obfuscate, lie, confuse, and water down everything that the government tries to do, thus 'proving' their meme that govment don't work cuz it IS the problem, and Dems can't govern anyway, even if it did. Why do the repigs hate the American governmental system so?

Posted by: In what respect, Charlie? on June 14, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Grover Norquist's plan was to bankrupt the government in order to force draconian cuts in social spending. If the Republicans can lay all the blame for both on the Democrats, so much the better for them, so I'd regretfully conclude that Norquist's plan is pretty much on track.

Posted by: N.Wells on June 14, 2010 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

What would the GOP cut?

Social Security and Medicare, both perceived by GOP leadership as benefiting the underclass and stealing money from their betters.

They'll give that money to Wall Street, which needs it so much more.

Posted by: zak822 on June 14, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

The fear of having to govern is understandable. Most of us get a little nervous when we have to do something we've never tried before.

Posted by: Ken on June 14, 2010 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Really? Republicans don't want Republicans to win yet, because they don't have clear plans for cuts and clear plans to govern effectively? Really? This from Ari the Israeli Lobbyist Fleischer, the onetime Bush propagandist. The same crowd that lied the country to war, cut taxes on the uber-wealthy and spent the nation into fiscal destruction...this crowd is suddenly concerned that Republicans don't have plans to govern effectively? Really? Sorry, what this is is a party that knows it is going to be rejected a third time, rejected when all the so-called professional pundits were/are pegging the GOP for massive gains...pegging the Republican "brand" for massive gains and failure to achieve those gains would mean failure. That is what this is---lowering expectations and doing so with typical Republican delusional spin. "We don't want to win yet, because we don't have a plan to govern well," which has never been a problem for Republicans before. All of their plans have been massive failures...starting with Nixon's health care fixes to Nixon's agricultural fixes to Reagan's economic-super-deregulation fixes. Need one even mention W Bush's wonderful fixes. The Republican Party has never been concerned about effective governance or effective deficit reduction plans---they've only been interested in gaining power so that they can turn the government and supreme court over to corporate interests. This latest spin is pure rubbish! This is walking back expectations, because the Republicans know they are on the verge of failing another election---an election in which they were/are supposed to make huge gains, but won't and might even lose ground.

Posted by: Ralph Kramden on June 14, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

"I want to see more evidence that Republicans are ready to govern. I want to see more substance, particularly on what spending they will cut."

Okay. Without taking our eyes off the fact that this is Ari Fucking Fleischer we're talking about, here's my problem with this. Win or lose, big gain or small gain or no gain, the 2012 GOP is going to look pretty much exactly the same as the 2010 GOP, because its leadership and Congressional delegation is going to be pretty much the same people.

I absolutely guarantee that in 2012, the following people will be influential in the Republican Party (if they're still alive): Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Newt Gingrich, James Inhofe, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, and so forth. Notice that many of these people don't currently hold office, and some of them (Limbaugh and Palin) at least pay lip service to the idea that the GOP itself is less important than "conservativism" in the abstract. But look, they're all very big fish in the GOP pond and no one denies that.

So what's going to change, Ari? Are the Glenn Becks and Sharron Angles and Haley Barbours of the world going to suddenly turn themselves into statesmen and policy wonks? A near-majority will make that even less likely than it is now. If they get within sniffing distance of control, they'll triple down on crazy. If Fleischer wants to be the Adult Voice, he should be praying for massive losses instead. That's the only thing that will let the nearly-extinct adult wing of the party survive.

Posted by: Matt on June 14, 2010 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

"Republicans aren't interested in producing solutions to America's problems."

I'd say they're more like "incapable" of producing solutions. And they know it. They also know that the Democrats aren't going to be able to turn things around for the nation before a would-be GOP takeover in November. So, their best bet is to hang on until 2012, when their obstinate refusal to participate in governing will have prevented the Democrats from improving the economy in time for Obama's re-election.

Posted by: chrenson on June 14, 2010 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Who in their right mind would want to have to actually deal with the FUBAR shitstorm that is a direct result of the Bush Years?

The GOP would be happy to somewhat erode the Dem majorities, but still not be in a position to actually have to make a decision or formulate a strategy. And since the Dems are so afraid of doing anything decisive, the GOP can just sit back, hurl accusations and what for Dem leadership to start negotiating against themselves.

The longer the Dems timidly address these issues, the more they take ownership. GOP leadership figures by 2012 the Dems will no longer have standing to blame Bush for anything.

Posted by: bdop4 on June 14, 2010 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

The idea of fear existing in a republican is very unpossible .

Using the confusing hierarchy of the current leadership , one is struck by the complete absence of those emotions , which would verify the possible existence or probability of any direct connection to the words , thoughts , and deeds of these notable officials , or to any equal corresponding reaction .
Matt has accurately described the administrative branch of the party of which , half draw a paycheck from Foxie Newsie , and the other half pay a tithe to Newsie Foxie .

If elected it is certain that the republican sponsored tax cuts being offered along with government access to American bedrooms , and doctors offices will not only bring old fashioned prosperity back to our economy , but a safety and security of a government approved bedroom activity and the irony free comfort of a state approved medical practice .

They may not know fear , the consequences of their actions , or shame , but they want to know what you do in the dark , or what you are thinking about doing in caring for your own health .

Posted by: FRP on June 14, 2010 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

'DNC spokesperson Hari Sevugan said fear of holding the House is a sign that "Republicans aren't interested in producing solutions to America's problems."' As if sell-out, pro-corporate Democrats are. Republicans are bad news, but it's betrayal and abandonment of any credible principal of human rights, civil rights, even by transparently fraudulent "progressives" like Grayson who are doing the most damage.

Posted by: BS on June 15, 2010 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

But the American people are so deserving of Republican rule. After all, they gave the world George Bush, throwing just about every country on the planet into an economic tailspin. It's only just that they let themselves go whole hog. I mean, they know Republican policies don't work, but they so much want them to work anyway. And the Tea Baggers are such a perfect representation of the whole state of the nation. Go on, America... Vote Republican over and over and over. And when the rest of whatever wasn't destroyed last time around goes down the toilet, just get yourself a Big Mac and eat and eat and eat and eat and eat until you're satiated on your beautiful culture and fall into a deep and profoundly what-me-worry sleep... I mean coma.

Posted by: Dolmance on June 15, 2010 at 4:31 AM | PERMALINK

Great share, thanks for the post.

Posted by: internet marketing on December 28, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK



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