Free Markets, Free People

If we had just bought what the establishment GOP was selling, they would have thrown in undercoating for free

I don’t visit The Corner at National Review as often as I used to. Their pop-behind ads annoy me too much. But with good stuff from Jonah Goldberg, Mark Steyn, Andrew McCarthy, and a few others of that ilk, I still go by from time to time, despite the ads.

Almost as annoying as the ads are the Gentry GOP types who are constantly providing cover for establishment Republicans. Ramesh Ponnuru leads that crew. Ponnuru had a post yesterday, with a follow-on today, that both serve as a fine illustrations.

Both are about the intricate strategerizing (as another establishment Republican might put it) around the so-called fiscal cliff. I tried to understand what he was getting at. I really did. But it all just came out as complicated blather to promote some kind of go-along-get-along viewpoint. I never did understand his argument. I’m pretty sure that he wants the Republicans who blocked the last deal to get with the program and support the establishment cohort led by Boehner, but even after reading his posts through twice I still don’t get *why*.

He ends the first piece with this paragraph:

That some Republicans are willing to see higher taxes for the sake of anti-tax purity is topsy-turvy enough. Adding to the vertigo: The Republicans (inside and outside the House) who fret about blurring the party’s definition are the ones who are doing most to blur it. They are the ones who are, in most cases, accusing Republican leaders of seeking to raise taxes when they are actually trying to cut taxes as much as they think possible—cut them, that is, from the levels the law already has in place for 2013. They’re the ones who are accusing most House Republicans of  “caving” to the Democrats, even as some of them prefer that the Democrats get their way entirely. That’s where the convoluted politics of this moment have led us.

This word salad sounds like an old Dilbert cartoon to me. In it, Dilbert is asked to sign a document stating "Employee election to not rescind the opposite action of declining the reverse inclination to not discontinue employment with the company."

The Gentry GOP’s equivalent seems to be "Voting for the bill to raise taxes in order to not raise taxes while electing to stand firm on not doing anything on spending while ensuring the previous action of claiming to reduce spending." Or something like that. I’m not really sure.

On stuff like this, I am a firm believer in the Asimov principle. In an introduction to one of his books, he said (approximately) "When I read something I don’t understand, I don’t assume I’m stupid." There are plenty of reasons for something to be incomprehensible that don’t have anything to do with me:

- The author might not know what he’s talking about

- The author might be a very bad communicator, and so just can’t explain himself very well

- As in the Dilbert example, the author might be trying to obfuscate the issue

For the entire discussion over the fiscal cliff, from Democrats, the media, or establishment Republicans, I’m going with the last explanation. It’s pretty clear at this point that the whole thing simply does not matter that much in the long term. No proposal being taken seriously will do anything to alter our long term trajectory. So the entire episode is just for political maneuvering.

That’s the part Ponnuru doesn’t seem to get, or at least he doesn’t assign any real weight to it. He doesn’t understand why twenty or so Republicans just won’t go along with the gag.

I get it completely. They have the intuition that they are being gamed.

Analyzing the details doesn’t help, because those details are intentionally confusing, and leave entirely too much room for statists to make things come out the way they want later.

If you’ve ever been subjected to the car salesmen who insists that this wonderful deal he’s offering you won’t be good tomorrow, you know the dynamic here. Those in the GOP who won’t go along with the game sense that the ruling class is using the same technique, with the fiscal cliff deadline as the nominal justification.

In general, I’m sick of any argument by an establishment GOP type that it’s necessary to do X to avoid being blamed for Y. Much of this fiscal cliff discussion seems to be in that vein. I’m sick of it because it pre-supposes that there is a path where the GOP won’t be blamed for the bad things that happen. That’s ridiculous.

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11 Responses to If we had just bought what the establishment GOP was selling, they would have thrown in undercoating for free

  • I saw a story the other day that read something like …
    “DC is hot, one house gets 38 bids”
    The government is growing so fast that DC housing prices are going astronomical.
    They can’t have real action on the deficit or debt.

  • Conservatives mostly agree that it’s not what you say, it’s what you do. The current conservative/Republican leadership and hangers on lost 2006 & 2008. The grass roots took over and won big in 2010. In 2012 Romney and his strategists blatantly distanced them selves from the “teabaggers” and got their sorry tuchises whipped. It’s time for these guys to go. They’re losers.

  • I’m sick of it because it pre-supposes that there is a path where the GOP won’t be blamed for the bad things that happen. That’s ridiculous.
    >>>>> I’m a let it burn guy, because of what you say here. The public needs to learn, or they need to suffer.

    • “The public needs to learn,”
       
      Indeed they do, and to do that they need knowledgeable teachers. Unfortunately, there seems to be a serious lack of those in the Rep. party. Or in the political/education complex, as has been demonstrated here over the years.

  • “Voting for the bill to raise taxes in order to not raise taxes while electing to stand firm on not doing anything on spending while ensuring the previous action of claiming to reduce spending.”
     
    Good golly. That is the first mention of spending I have seen in weeks. Some folks seem to have forgotten the issue is reducing the deficit, not taxes.
     
    This situation reminds me of a movie plot where the thieves distract the ferocious guard dogs by throwing them raw meat. It is amusing in a depressing sort of way to watch those ferocious Rep. guardians of fiscal responsibility (now that Bush is gone) focus like a laser on the horror of a tax increase, completely forgetting that the whole purpose of this exercise is to eliminate the deficit.
     
    To paraphrase a SUCCESSFUL political operation, “IT’S THE SPENDING, STUPID!!!”.

  • I am leaning more and more to letting the fiscal cliff happen, as it does actually cut spending. Raising taxes sucks, but that was going to happen eventually.
    I think the Dems will make significant progress in taking back the House in 2014.
    The GOP could not figure out how to negotiate decently and they also never seem to have any ready-made action plans. They should have had 2-3 fully fleshed out plans, maybe even CBO scored ahead of time (that might not be wise if it would be leaked, but it would show some reality that Obama does not show.)
    Instead we have bizarre negotiations where Boehner gives up stuff early, can’t get his own bills passed, etc. The only good thing about that bill failing is that everyone knows now that Boehner faces real constraints. The dems should face up to that and have helped pass something. But they won’t. Its amazing.

    • Not when you consider that that party doesn’t give a sh*t about this country. Never have, never will.

      • Yes, this is what I am re-discovering. Its very annoying because the solutions are not that difficult.

        • And when you’re enemy is destroying themselves, you don’t stop them.  Just how nice do you think the Democrats are?