The older I get, the better I was. If things hadn’t gone differently, I would have Rahm’s job, and with ten full fingers to boot. Nevertheless, I’m going to say what I would have said given the opportunity, so listen up, Prez…
The GOP – for almost two decades now – has had exactly one organizing principle. Nothing else is of consequence – it can all change on a dime, whether it’s the sudden love for the filibuster after losing Congress or the sudden attention to civil liberties with a Democrat in the White House or, most recently, the amazing attention to the problem of deficit spending and the risks to future generations of running away with the checkbook. The one and only thing they have is simple: trash the other team. Like Alabama fans who don’t care how they do as long as Auburn sucks, the only thing the contemporary GOP cares about is making the other side look as horrible as possible. Reagan’s GOP had Mieses and Hayek and Kirk and Buckley. The Bush GOP’s intellectual leading lights are AM radio howlers with substance abuse issues and tit-stick cougars trying to find a life as College Republican wank material.
The point is: this is not the old days, when you could hammer out a Gucci Gulch-type deal in good faith. There IS no good faith. There is only insanity – and if you accept the Alcoholics Anonyous definition that insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result, then yes, the Republican party is insane. Tax cuts are not the solution for everything from deficits to surpluses to terrorism, no matter how much you try to spin it – and they don’t do any less harm to future generations than the same amount of spending. Stop thinking you can work out a deal with people who can’t do fourth-grade math.
I don’t know if you’re playing some sort of long con with this. I would like to think so. I recognize that we’re all of three weeks in, and no matter what the Sabbath Gasbags and cable TV morons want you to think, you can’t really declare a failed presidency in less than a month. However, if the powers that be over at 1600 Penn don’t get it yet, they need to figure it out in a hurry: there is nothing to be gained by negotiating. You will give in, give away key points of what you want to accomplish, and then get no votes at all for your trouble. And you’ll probably lose a couple on your own side, the sort who recognize that more than anything else, the tiny little village of DC media loves more than anything somebody who makes a career of taking a deuce on their own party. McCain, Zell Miller, Joe Leiberman, stand aside – Ben Nelson is your new golden child, and get ready to see him every Sunday for the next four years.
Here’s the thing, Barack: you have the White House, you have both houses of Congress, and you have a nation and a media with the attention span of a fruit fly. Yes, we get that George W. Bush and company basically sandbagged the nation and the new administration, that the cupboard is bare and monetary policy is gone as a tool and the budget deficit is unconscionably high and there’s a time bomb waiting in the tax cut expirations in 2011. It sucks, it’s not fair, and it’s not right. But that doesn’t matter. It’s February 2009, and you own the whole fucking nut now, and when shit starts to go wrong, you cannot count on people pointing a finger at the ones who disembowel your plan and then vote against it anyway. Man up and crack some skulls and do the damn thing, your way, with your team, and rise or fall based on the results. The GOP has already gone all-in as the Party of No, hoping you’ll crash and burn and let them back into control in two years, so don’t think that you’re going to get any credit for trying to be some kind of new-age post-partisan. Maybe if people paid attention, you could rely on reason and logic, but as long as there’s American Idol and another missing white girl and some freak woman dropping a litter on NBC, forget it.
I know it’s not what you were taught in school, but you’re now the Prime Minister of the United States. Display some fucking adaptability.