April 8, 2011

Shutdown Blooze

Hatched by Dafydd

The looming shutdown hits us harder than most. As you probably know, Sachi works for the U.S. Navy as a civilian engineer. According to the Department of Defense shutdown plan, for as long as the shutdown continues, Sachi must still go to work and do her normal job -- but she doesn't get paid.

We're supposed to be reimbursed later, when the federal government regains spending authority (via a DoD appropriations bill or continuing resolution); but how late is "later?" We can go a few paychecks without paychecks, but at some point it's going to become dicey.

Neverthelesss, Sachi and I both support the firm stance that Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH, 96%) has taken so far: Above all else, we must hugely, dramatically, and permanently cut federal spending. We also support the "policy riders" cutting off federal funding for NPR, Planned Parenthood, and for the EPA's adventures in Globaloney-land; though it might be reasonable to bargain away the riders in the FY 2011 continuing resolution -- but not the FY 2012 budget and appropriations -- in exchange for even larger spending cuts, as Beldar suggested yesterday.

As you might expect, we're avidly following the discussion of what the shutdown will entail; we're particularly concerned that voters assign blame for the shutdown to those who actually caused it: the demagoguing Democrats and puerile president who set out to spend us into oblivion. Many political historians on both right and left (mostly left) blame the last two shutdowns in 1995-6 for Bill Clinton's resurgence and reelection the next year, and the fall of Newt Gingrich and the conservative revolution two years later.

In particular, folks blame one unfortunate remark by the Newtster the day after the first, five-day shutdown began:

At a breakfast session with reporters, Mr. Gingrich said he was insulted and appalled that, on the long trip aboard Air Force One this month to and from the funeral of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the president failed to invite the Republican leaders to the front of the plane to discuss the budget, and then made them exit at the rear of the plane.

In many voters' minds, that solidified the idea that a major motivating factor in the strong continuing resolution authored by Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Blob Dole was... pure pique at Clinton's lèse majesté towards Newt. To put it mildly, that impression did not help the cause.

Thus I was pleased to read this post by Beldar, speak of the Devil, to whose judgment I fake deference:

I'm no pollster, and in fact I'm intensely skeptical of public opinion polling as a proxy for the only polls that count -- electoral polls on election day. But I think there are two fundamental differences between now and 1995 that both reduce the political risk to the GOP now, as compared to then:

Beldar's two differences are:

  1. America is more polarized today than in 1995. Since there are fewer people truly on the fence, there are fewer who would be swayed left or right by the shutdown.
  2. The proximate cause of the shutdown is not the GOP's attempt to cut federal spending; most voters want them to continue slashing spending anyway.

    Nay, the real proximate cause of the shutdown is simple: The Democrats never passed either an FY 2011 budget or any of the major appropriations bills (which can be passed even if no budget was enacted), back in 2010, when they controlled both House and Senate by lopsided majorities (and the presidency, of course). Therefore, spending authority simply expires -- until and unless a new appropriation or a new continuing resolution is passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by President Barack H. Obama. The feds have cash... they simply have no authority to spend it!

So first, not many voters are undecided about whose fault this is; and second, among those who are, Republicans have a much better argument to make that it's the Democrats' fault.

But Beldar got me thinking, and I believe there are a number of other differences as well. I e-mailed a detailed list to him; in response, Beldar expressed faux befuddlement why I hadn't posted it on Big Lizards instead.

So what the heck; I decided to pretend that I hadn't realized it was a humorous remark -- which, considering my usual obtuseness, is an easy act to sell. Besides, I need a post today; and the only character trait more widely known than my humorlessness is my towering, colossal laziness. Since I'd already written the dadblamed thing, all I had to do was slap it into Movable Type, and voilà -- Instapost! (Apologies to GR.)

So here we go; five easy theses for why America, We the People, and Republicans are in much better shape to weather this government shutdown than any of us was in 1995:

  1. We don't have a bomb-throwing, conservative fire-breather as Speaker of the House, as many thought we did back then; we have the pedestrian but moderate-sounding John Boehner. It's impossible to imagine Boehner making the sort of petulant statement that Newt did in 1995.
  2. Back in 1995, the lamestream media enjoyed a virtual monopoly over news dissemination. Fox News Channel was still a year in the future; political blogs were barely extant before the year 2000 (even Instapundit didn't spring into existence until late 2001); political talk-radio comprised NPR and Rush Limbaugh.

    Today, fewer and fewer get their news from the antique organs of unacknowledged bias; more and more read openly partisan media, both old and new. With many more viewpoints, nobody has a monopoly on spin.

  3. With the advent of consumer-driven news bias, voters of all ideologies have necessarily become less credulous and more skeptical, even cynical. Over the post-WWII decades, we've matured (or over-ripened) from Uncle Walter to cui bono.
  4. Bill Clinton was a loveable rogue, and I'm sure he thoroughly enjoyed beating up on Newt Gingrich for the telltale snort. But it's an absurd over-simplification to argue that the government shutdown "caused" Clinton's reelection.

    The proximate cause of Clinton's reelection was that "the party of orderly succession" chose to nominate lumpy Blob Dole against the colorful Comeback Kid. Imagine how the race might have gone had Don Rumsfeld carried through his intention to run for the presidency, and had he been nominated; he might very well have defeated the 49% president.

    We don't yet know who will be the nominee in 2012; but if it's Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, or even House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan Himself (R-WI, 96%), I'm quite sure that he will do a heck of a lot better in debates, campaigning, and the eventual election than Dole's dismal 40.7%.

  5. Finally, today we have the example of 1995 before us; one presumes that this time, Republicans will make at least some effort to avoid the pitfalls (and pratfalls).

For all these reasons and those Beldar originally enunciated, I think we anti-Progressivists are in a much better position today than we were sixteen years ago.

And that's the way it was; keep the giraffe burning.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 8, 2011, at the time of 5:35 PM


The following hissed in response by: another john galt

my bride is also in the gov't pool, and overseas in the litterbox. these idiots including our Dear Leader, have no clue as to how angry the working class is. We work, we save, we mind our own business, we run our businesses the best we can, and the ruling class plays their cards for power and control.
It will not go well.

The above hissed in response by: another john galt [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 8, 2011 7:46 PM

The following hissed in response by: mdgiles

I think far and away your most important point is (4), The suicide of the LSM has done more then anything else, to keep the Dems from profiting from a shutdown. And they know it. The failure to take advantage in Wisconsin, even with the LSM running interference for the unions, was instructive.

The above hissed in response by: mdgiles [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 9, 2011 8:34 AM

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