Political Animal


January 07, 2013 8:59 AM The Pre-Election Mood of the GOP

By Ed Kilgore

There was a lot of talk immediately after the elections and even deep into the “fiscal cliff” negotiations of a new, chastened mood in the Republican Party, led by people who knew voters had repudiated their obstructionist habits and inveterate opposition to anything Barack Obama proposed.

Well, that’s clearly over. Their divisions over the New Year’s tax bill and the desperate need of its brokers to pretend that crossing the line on tax rate increases was a tactical retreat before a massive assault on the welfare state have restored that old familiar GOP rhetoric of total war. It’s evident in the immediate opposition being expressed towards former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary. And it’s even more apparent in the early positioning of Republican leaders over the debt limit and the spending sequester. Check out these key lines from a Stephen Moore column based on an interview with John Boehner:

Republicans won’t be agreeing to any more tax increases during the next two years. “The tax issue is resolved,” [Boehner] says, and it will be discussed only in the context of a broader debate about tax reform—specifically, lower rates….

So we’re back to the ancient Norquistian position that any loophole-closing has to be offset by lower rates, instead of generating revenue to reduce budget deficits. As for spending:

He says that Republicans won’t back down from the so-called Boehner rule: that every dollar of raising the debt ceiling will require one dollar of spending cuts over the next 10 years. Rather than forcing a deal, the insistence may result in a series of monthly debt-ceiling increases.

That’s a course that is guaranteed to reassure investors and keep the economy on an even keel, eh? Good thing the opposition party is so grown-up.

Seriously, it’s time for pundits to stop saying Republican leaders have “learned a lesson” from 2012. If they did, it’s now long-forgotten.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Ronald on January 07, 2013 9:08 AM:

    What pundits?

    Republican blowhards with nothing better than their own shrinking audiences to blotivate to?
    Right-wing crazies finding a friendly environ to spew on the Faux news channel?

    Most everybody I've read, or you've pointed us to here on the PA have been pointing to the same thing for months;
    internecine warfare between the Teapers and the 'Establishment'. And that's exactly what we're getting.

    I certainly don't think many people here really believed that the Republicans were at all 'chastened' from their electoral loss.

  • c u n d gulag on January 07, 2013 9:25 AM:

    Liberals, learn new lessons, and relearn some old ones.

    Conservatives, know all that they need to know; which, granted, ain't much - but, why clutter their beautiful minds with all sorts of new falderal?

    To "conserve," means to get things back to as they were. Or, at worst, yell, "STOP!" at progress, and try to keep things as they are.

  • Perspecticus on January 07, 2013 9:26 AM:

    "Seriously, itís time for pundits to stop saying Republican leaders have ďlearned a lessonĒ from 2012. If they did, itís now long-forgotten."

    It was time for pundits to stop saying Republicans learned a lesson after the first Republican uttered a variation of the phrase "the fault was in the messaging, not the message". I note for posterity that the first utterance of that sentence was within 12 hours of the election results of 11/7/12.

  • Peter C on January 07, 2013 9:42 AM:

    The treasury department should mint the platinum coin (which solves the debt ceiling issue) NOW and start the fight about the BUDGET. This takes the power away from the Republican obstructionists and puts the issue back as a problem of Congress NOT DOING ITS JOB!

  • esaud on January 07, 2013 9:52 AM:

    As bad as Republicans are, the media is worse. Why would anyone listen to the likes of Lindsay Graham, John McCain, the Weekly Standard crowd, etc?

    Hagel used to be the go-to guy before the neocons took over control of the Republican party foreign policy. Just once I would love to have someone point out how wrong all of those so-called experts were about everything.

  • T2 on January 07, 2013 10:00 AM:

    Pundits said GOP had learned a lesson just to give the GOP cover. The GOP doesn't learn lessons, it tells people what to do. period. The "pundits" are, by and large, a PR wing of the GOP and trying to convince normal Americans that the GOP was going to be less crazy was just part of the GOP PR propaganda.
    Their obstruction is ingrained - it won't change. And the GOP did not see the election as a failure of their policies...they saw it as a communication failure blamed on Romney. The next four years will be horrible and anyone who thought otherwise was/is a chump.

  • plimschmuggin on January 07, 2013 10:03 AM:


    It should be bellowing out of the pie wholes of the MSM.


  • jjm on January 07, 2013 10:23 AM:

    @esaud on January 07, 2013 9:52 AM wrote:

    "As bad as Republicans are, the media is worse. Why would anyone listen to the likes of Lindsay Graham, John McCain, the Weekly Standard crowd, etc?"

    That is really THE question. I'm amazed they aren't throwing Cheney up there too. Who needs these gasbags? Why is Lindsay Graham on EVERY week?

  • Kathryn on January 07, 2013 10:47 AM:

    Should we give in T2, I agree with your assessment btw? Is it hopeles, maybe? One suggestion, Virginia gubernatorial election in 2013. Every progressive in the country should give time, money, if possible, to defeat Ken Cuccinelli, a terrifying representative of the Tea Party. Terry McAuliffe might be too centrist for progressives (okay, he is), but we're talking Virginia here, baby steps. I, for one, am not ready to give up but feeling pretty shaky. IMO, one way to tackle the idiot MSM is to win the first electoral battle, Virginia 2013.

  • ejcarrig on January 07, 2013 1:34 PM:

    Americans want people working on solutions that provide peace of mind and a significant benefit for society. The media and politicians arenít delivering. www.at10us.com

  • DisgustedWithItAll on January 07, 2013 7:55 PM:

    Yet more evidence that it was beyond stupid for the Bush tax cut rates to be locked permanently by Obama and Democrats. These people just can't get any more stupid or play into the hands of Republicans any better. Sometimes you just have to marvel at how Democrats can take winning hands and lose. Unbelievable.

  • Anonymous on January 08, 2013 8:55 AM:

    @T2 on January 07, 2013 10:00 AM:

    "Pundits said GOP had learned a lesson just to give the GOP cover....
    Their obstruction is ingrained - it won't change. And the GOP did not see the election as a failure of their policies...they saw it as a communication failure blamed on Romney."

    In college I was fortunate enough to take a constitutional law course taught by professor Charles Black. In one lecture he explained (defended?) his controversial decision to at one point serve as a legal advisor to the Nixon Administration during the Watergate scandal. He said,(paraphrased)

    "I was trying to preserve the dignity of the presidency. However, I realized that you can't build a ship with rotten timber."

    That's how I see the GOP. It ceased to be a credible national party decades ago. I almost think the defining moment was when President Reagan said, in response to criticism of his proposed(?) cuts to school lunch funding, that "Ketchup is a vegetable." That kind of illogical thinking, symbolized by 'Voodoo Economics", dramatically illustrated the party's march away from objective reality.

    The Tea Party is just the last, dying gasp of a defunct ideology and organization. The only question remaining is how much pain and suffering the current shell of the GOP will cause before it finally fades away.