The Party of Zilch

With Democrats sagging, Republicans are missing an opportunity to fill the leadership void.

Cordial: But certainly not warm; Obama with Boehner and Cantor.
National Journal
Ron Fournier
Add to Briefcase
Ron Fournier
Nov. 19, 2013, 4:38 a.m.

The Re­pub­lic­an Party stands for noth­ing. As Barack Obama threatens to fumble away his pres­id­ency along with the Demo­crat­ic Party’s reas­ons for ex­ist­ence — cham­pi­on­ing an act­ive, ef­fi­cient gov­ern­ment — the GOP lurches in­to the lead­er­ship breach with “¦ zilch.

Rather than be the party of solu­tions in a grid­locked cap­it­al, ap­peal­ing to a lead­er­ship-starved pub­lic, the GOP is the party of ob­struc­tion, en­sur­ing that its pu­trid ap­prov­al rat­ings nose-dive apace with Obama’s.

The coun­try needs sens­ible im­mig­ra­tion re­form that brings 11 mil­lion or so un­doc­u­mented res­id­ents out of the shad­ows. No, says the GOP.

The coun­try needs to tame a massive debt that will be 100 per­cent of the gross do­mest­ic product by 2038 un­less Con­gress raises rev­en­ue and trims en­ti­tle­ments. No, says the GOP.

The coun­try needs fair de­bate and com­prom­ise around ex­ist­en­tial is­sues such as cli­mate change, in­come in­equal­ity, and a de­teri­or­at­ing 20th-cen­tury in­fra­struc­ture. No, says the GOP.

A small but re­cent ex­ample of Re­pub­lic­an ob­stin­acy came Monday when Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans blocked Obama’s third con­sec­ut­ive nom­in­ee to the coun­try’s most im­port­ant Ap­peals Court. Their ar­gu­ment is ludicrous: The United States Court of Ap­peals for the Dis­trict of Columbia Cir­cuit does not have a case­load to mer­it filling the va­can­cies, Re­pub­lic­ans claim. They failed to shrink the court by three seats, so they are block­ing the pres­id­ent’s nom­in­ees.

This is not about case­loads. Re­pub­lic­ans had no trouble with the size of the court un­der Pres­id­ent Bush. The data con­tra­dict the case for few­er seats. And all three of Obama’s nom­in­ees are qual­i­fied for the job. This is pure polit­ics of ob­struc­tion.

It brings to mind what House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor offered as an ex­cuse for block­ing a vote on the Sen­ate’s im­mig­ra­tion bill, or even a de­bate on the sub­ject. “We don’t want a re­peat of what’s go­ing on now with Obama­care,” he said.

That’s the GOP motto: If Obama is for it, we’re against it. That may be enough to ap­pease Obama haters who make up a con­sid­er­able core of the Re­pub­lic­an midterm vot­ing bloc. It may be a strategy that works in the short term, giv­en the pres­id­ent’s man­age­ment fail­ures and de­cep­tion. But this is the ex­act wrong way for Re­pub­lic­ans to win the emer­ging gen­er­a­tion of voters, the mil­len­ni­als, whom polls show are far more tol­er­ant and prac­tic­al than GOP lead­ers in Wash­ing­ton.

In fair­ness, Demo­crats en­cour­age bad be­ha­vi­or. For ex­ample, Sen­ate Demo­crats in 2003 blocked Pres­id­ent Bush’s nom­in­ee to the same Dis­trict of Columbia Cir­cuit that Obama is now try­ing to fill. Demo­crats were in the minor­ity then, and no less nar­row-minded or polit­ic­al as Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans today.

Re­pub­lic­ans are also em­boldened by the know­ledge that Obama’s polit­ic­al stand­ing is slip­ping. A new Wash­ing­ton Post poll shows that both his ap­prov­al rat­ings and the pub­lic’s view of Obama­care are at re­cord lows. Most dis­turb­ing are his rank­ings on per­son­al at­trib­utes that have buoyed him in the past.  Ac­cord­ing to The Post:

“On three meas­ures of lead­er­ship and em­pathy that have been tested re­peatedly in Post-ABC polls, Obama now is un­der­wa­ter on all three for the first time. Half or more now say he is not a strong lead­er, does not un­der­stand the prob­lems of “people like you,” and is not hon­est and trust­worthy. Per­cep­tions of the pres­id­ent as a strong lead­er have dropped 15 points since Janu­ary, and over the past year the per­cent­age of re­gistered voters who say he is not hon­est and trust­worthy has in­creased 12 points.

The new sur­vey also asked people wheth­er they con­sider Obama a good man­ager. In what ap­pears to be a dir­ect link to the prob­lems of the health-care rol­lout, 56 per­cent say no and 41 per­cent say yes.”

For months, I have been warn­ing that Obama risked the pub­lic turn­ing sour on his lead­er­ship (here, here, here, here, here, and here) and cred­ib­il­ity (here, here, here, here, here, and here). The Benghazi at­tack, the seizure of tele­phone re­cords from the As­so­ci­ated Press, the IRS’s in­vest­ig­a­tions of polit­ic­al groups, the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency’s massive do­mest­ic-spy­ing op­er­a­tion, the “red line” in Syr­ia, and now Obama­care — the White House re­spon­ded to every con­tro­versy or quasi-scan­dal by mock­ing its crit­ics and ig­nor­ing the warn­ing signs.

Now the pub­lic has had enough. Amer­ic­ans are be­gin­ning to not trust their pres­id­ent, and so what does the GOP of­fer as reas­on­able al­tern­at­ive — a modic­um of san­ity, comity, or ser­i­ous­ness? Nope. Oth­er than hard par­tis­ans on the left and right, the ma­jor­ity of the people — mod­er­ate, fix-it Amer­ic­ans who simply want a sens­ible gov­ern­ment — now have nowhere to turn, be­cause the GOP is the party of noth­ing.

What We're Following See More »
TRUMP’S THREAT REJECTED BY CONGRESS
House Republicans Pour Cold Water On 35 Percent Tariff
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump went on a Twitter rampage Sunday morning, promising a 35 percent tariff on goods imported by businesses that leave America. Not so fast, say Republican leaders in Congress. "I don’t want to get into some kind of trade war," said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a comment later reiterated by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who instead called for overhaul of corporate taxes instead of a punitive tax.

Source:
DISCUSSED CLIMATE CHANGE
Al Gore Meets with Ivanka and Donald Trump
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

Former Vice President Al Gore found himself in a room with Donald Trump Monday just after meeting with Trump's daughter, Ivanka. Gore discussed the topic of climate change with both Trumps and called his discussion with Donald Trump "extremely interesting." It remains to be seen if Donald Trump will deal with the topic of climate change during his presidency.

Source:
EXPECTED TO FUND THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH SPRING
Funding Bill To Be Released Tuesday
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.

Source:
TRUMP TOWER MEETING
Mayor Bowser to Sit Down with Trump
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is making the pilgrimage to Trump Tower tomorrow, where she and Chief of Staff John Falchiccio and Senior Adviser Beverly Perry will meet with President-elect Donald Trump. In a statement, she said she'd be discussing "DC’s growth and common areas of interest."

Source:
IT’S OFFICIAL
Trump to Nominate Carson to Lead HUD
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

As has been rumored for a week, Donald Trump will nominate Ben Carson, his former rival, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a statement, Trump said, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login