A Happy Conservative’s Thoughts On The Shutdown

kermit waving arms

A few random pontifications on the government shutdown.

  • I for one think politically speaking, this is going much better than I could have predicted. I was supportive of the defund strategy, but thought it would all fall  apart in the first few minutes of a actual shutdown.  Give credit where credit is due:  Ted Cruz et al may have started this, but John Boehner is the one keeping the caucus together, against moderate threats like Peter King.
  • Where do we go from here?  I think it is pretty clear it will take another cliff to get both sides together, for a simple reason:  the government shutdown has not been very painful.  There is no motivation for either side to compromise right now.  Sure, the polls show a slightly larger portion of the population blames the GOP, but nowhere near the numbers of the 1995 shutdown. That is bad news for Obama. However, Obama is still under the illusion that this is a repeat of 1995, as are his West Wing advisors.  Until that view changes, we are on lockdown.
  • The next bump in the road:  the debt ceiling.  I think for all sides, that is far more important than this shutdown.  Default clearly would cause more repercussions than anything occurring today.
  • Be prepared for an unsatisfying end to this.  There is no way the GOP wins on all its points.  However, even a partial win by the GOP should be considered an achievement, considering the make up of D.C. today.  If we can get the medical device tax repealed, or something along the lines of the Vitter amendment, along with some other cost savings, I would be content.
  • The one negative of the shutdown?  The diluted news coverage of the debacle that has been the Obamacare startup.  The Feds are searching frantically for good news, and the best they can come up with is web hits.  Sorry, but that is about as useless a barometer as I can imagine.  Now, show me number of people who actually signed up for insurance, and then we can talk.  The most successful exchanges have signed up a few thousand customers; some have not signed up a single person yet, two days into this process.
  • So far, the Obama people have failed in finding any victims to point to in order to villify Republicans, but they did a pretty good job in creating victims to villify Obama.  The silliness at the World War II Memorial was about as stupid a political move as one can imagine.  And don’t doubt for a second that some political appointee reading Alinsky Rules didn’t make this decision.  No such barricades were placed during the Clinton-Gingrich shutdown, for example.  No, this was calculated, and it blew up in their collective faces.
  • Harry Reid compounded the Democrat debacle yesterday, when asked why the Senate wouldn’t try to help “one child who has cancer” by approving a mini-spending bill, he shot back: “Why would we want to do that?”  Reid spent the rest of the day trying to explain why this didn’t imply he wanted kids to die.  The House has twice passed funding bills to keep NIH and other essential services open.  If the media was actually nonpartisan, this would have a political impact.  We will see how much this story plays out.
  • As for tactics:  First, understand thy enemy.  Liberals are basically in the ‘Kermit the Frog hand flailing’ mode now.  Why?  I have had many conservatives ask this, and I thought it was blatantly obvious:  for liberals, shutdown of the Federal government is like taking away their oxygen.  You must understand that for many of them, their core ideological belief is that the government is the end all, be all of human existence. Life without a large, bureaucratic government overseeing their daily lives is unthinkable.
  • I suggest conservatives try to show sympathy for the furloughed government workers and others suffering from the shutdown.  I understand the hatred for big government, but many of these people are simply caught up in this, and are paying a price for the stupidity of our political leadership.  Be neighborly; help out any friends that are struggling. I have had friends that are Veterans, and some of their benefits have been cut.  Conservatives care about these things, and we should be the first to help and aid these people, and not revel in any of their misery.  This sympathy for fellow Americans does not mean inherently mean we should change our strategy; short term pain is one thing, long term good of the country is another.
  • Conservatives on the other hand need to react to these angry liberals in one, simple fashion:  Don’t worry, be happy.  Look, this is our ideal!  We have a government that is funding defense, and little other extraneous spending.  Doesn’t mean we support the level of spending that is occurring right now, but we can’t complain much about it either.  Be the happy warriors that Reagan used to talk about. We have little to lose, and a lot to win.  And unfortunately, many of these spending programs will be starting up sooner than we would like anyway.