Friday, March 14, 2014

GOP Oppositon as Performance Art

Andrew Sullivan comments on the Republican Party's lack of seriousness about governing on The Daily Dish.

It is as if the Republicans had decided that their opposition to the president would become a kind of performance art version of all their previous tricks. Obamacare is a function of a tyrant! The president is a mom-jeans-wearing weakling compared with Putin! He’s coming to take away your guns! He’s robbing white seniors to pay for poor blacks! And almost none of their critiques has carried the kind of decisive bite that could actually arrest Obama’s relentless chugging forward. In a war of attrition, one side is all histrionics, and the other all action. It reminds me a bit of the 2008 primary race. One side was crusading for the first woman president; the other was quietly counting delegates.

Some of this is inherent, of course, in one side being the government and the other the opposition. But the absence (until very recently) of any Republican legislative proposal that might attract serious, bipartisan support on the budget or climate change or immigration, and the absence in particular (until very recently) of even a modestly practical and palatable alternative to Obamacare reveals the core disparity. 50 votes to repeal Obamacare is not smart politics; it’s entertainment. One side is theater – and often rather compelling theater, if you like your news blonde, buxom and propagandized. The other side is boring, relentless implementation.

Until the theater really does create a new majority around Republican policies and a Republican candidate, Obama has the edge. Which is to say: he has had that edge now for nearly six years. Even if he loses the entire Congress this fall, he has a veto. And then, all he has to do is find a successor able to entrench his legacy and the final meep-meep is upon us. And that, perhaps, is how best to see Clinton. She may not have the stomach for eight years in the White House, and the barrage of bullshit she will have to endure. But if you see her as being to Barack Obama what George H.W. Bush was to Reagan, four years could easily be enough. At which point, the GOP may finally have to abandon theater for government, and performance art for coalition-building.

No comments: