Apropos the kill-Obamacare-or-shutdown-the-government frenzy on the Tea Party right, Michael Tomasky has some interesting insights on the new battle heating up in the Senate and spearheaded by Ted-Cruz’s (R-TX) faux filibuster* last night:
Many Republican senators have said in recent days or weeks that shutting down the government is unviable and defunding Obamacare is impossible. Well, if they think that, then logic dictates they ought to vote for the clean CR, right? But few will. So I say to you: Watch those numbers, because they’ll tell you the extent to which the extreme wing of the base is running the party right now.
Prominent among those senators who are made uncomfortable by the shutdown fervor of rabble-rousers like Cruz is Missouri’s Senator Roy Blunt. Although, as a member of the senate minority leadership team, Blunt has been outspoken about his opposition to Cruz’s tactics, he’s also tried to obfuscate about his support of the general shutdown strategy, presenting a vote to move the House bill to the floor for debate as an endorsement of its non-starter provisions to defund Obamacare – a ruse many less strident GOPers have adopted in order to placate the nutters who sent them to Washington.
So Blunt’s covered his backside; he should be willng to vote for a clean Continuing Resolution with no Obamacare poison pill, right? After all, as Tomasky correctly observes, the Republicans in the Senate who have tried to sidle away from the Cruz craziness have all indicated that they believe that “defunding Obamacare at this time and in this way is absolutely the wrong thing to do. They want to save that fight for another day, and they don’t want any part of a government shutdown.”
Alas, it seems that the noxious right-wing fumes in the political mines have finally gotten to one of the ostensibly more moderate (in a relative sense) GOP canaries. The staid, corporatist Blunt has stated emphatically that he’ll “vote against any attempts by the Majority Leader to restore funding for Obamacare,” which means he is implicitly saying “Hello, government shutdown.”
What gives? Again Tomasky offers a plausible answer:
So why would so many people vote against their own position? First and foremost, of course, because it’s Reid’s position, and by extension Obama’s. Only a few of them have the stones to play with that fire. But second, they also know that giving Reid as few GOP votes as possible strengthens the hand of Boehner and the House Republicans to play games with the CR the Senate sends back to the House. Boehner can attach new conditions that are short of a full defunding but that might delay certain aspects of the law anyway. That’s also why Republican senators started saying on Tuesday afternoon that they want to get the bill back to the House as soon as they possibly can, so the House Republicans have more time to make mischief.
So they’re against a shutdown, these GOP senators, and they’re against trying to defund Obamacare in this way. But they, or most of them, are going to vote against their own stated position to help the rabid House Republicans throw more monkey wrenches into the gears. I’ll grant that this isn’t a filibuster. But neither is it governing. It’s the talk-radio position, Limbaugh legislating.
I wonder if Blunt is counting on few of us being able to remember which position he was taking and when he was taking it after we’re staggering away from a shutdown mess? No matter what, though, don’t let him sell you any of his equivocating mumbo-jumbo; when push comes to shove he will have told us by means of his vote on the Continuing Resolution whether or not he’s decided that, discretion being the better part of valor, it behoves him to kiss the ring on Rush Limbaugh’s hand and cede the Republican Party to big, bad Ted Cruz.
*See what Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill had to say about Cruz reading from Green Eggs and Ham during his very, very long, not-filibuster speech.