What Are Conservatives Thinking?

Counting down to shutdown with one cheerful, eager Republican.

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 2: Republican Representative-elect David Schweikert addresses the crowd during an Arizona Republican Party election night event at the Hyatt Regency November 2, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. Schweikert defeated two-term Democratic Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-AZ) for the 5th Congressional District. 
National Journal
Tim Alberta
Add to Briefcase
Tim Alberta
Oct. 1, 2013, 9:31 a.m.

It was mere mo­ments be­fore the gov­ern­ment shut­down, and Rep. Dav­id Sch­weikert looked like a man without a care in the world.

The minutes tick­ing to­ward mid­night, the Ari­zona Re­pub­lic­an stood in statu­ary hall and searched for words to de­scribe his emo­tions. It quickly be­came ap­par­ent that neither re­gret nor reti­cence was any­where to be found. In­stead, it was something like eager­ness — even ex­cite­ment — that best cap­tured the con­gress­man’s spir­it.

“I know it’s not com­fort­able for a lot of people here, but this is how it’s sup­posed to work,” Sch­weikert told Na­tion­al Journ­al, his eyes wide and his smile broad­en­ing.

“It’s sup­posed to be can­tan­ker­ous. It’s sup­posed to be this con­stant grind­ing.”

It’s sup­posed to lead to a gov­ern­ment shut­down?

“Well, the one thing that isn’t work­ing the way it’s sup­posed to, is there’s sup­posed to be a sense of con­stant ne­go­ti­ation — you’re con­stantly work­ing a deal,” said Sch­weikert, a former county treas­urer and state rep­res­ent­at­ive. “And this is un­like any deal­ing ex­per­i­ence I’ve ever had — in my county gov­ern­ment, my le­gis­lature, even my pre­vi­ous couple of years here.”

The dif­fer­ence, Sch­weikert ex­plained: “We get noth­ing from the oth­er side.”

Mo­ments earli­er, a pre­ces­sion of House Demo­crat­ic of­fi­cials — led by Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi — had trudged slowly in­to the cor­ridor with a cho­reo­graphed gloom and settled around the mi­cro­phones. There, they pro­ceeded to ring in the shut­down and re­buke Re­pub­lic­ans for their “planned” shut­ter­ing of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

Sch­weikert, a con­ser­vat­ive elec­ted in the 2010 tea party wave, strode cas­u­ally in­to the Cap­it­ol’s hal­lowed hall, a dis­cern­ible spring in his step. Asked to ex­plain his good spir­its, Sch­weikert hin­ted that earli­er that day he, too, was anxious about the loom­ing shut­down. But then, he said, an el­ev­enth-hour ex­per­i­ence re­plen­ished his op­tim­ism.

“I just held a mini-tele­phone town hall an hour ago, with a ran­dom dial,” Sch­weikert said, lean­ing in and rub­bing his palms to­geth­er. “I’m from a fairly con­ser­vat­ive dis­trict so it’s not a real good sampling. But it was in­ter­est­ing. Some­how, they figured it out.”

Figured what out?

“They’re pissed at the Sen­ate.”

How’s that?

“I think something the left might not have cal­cu­lated is: This one ain’t like the oth­ers,” Sch­weikert said, re­fer­ring to the string of fisc­al fights that has con­sumed Con­gress since 2010. “A lot of folks, with the health care law, they’re fear­ful that it af­fects their pock­et­book.”

Sch­weikert and oth­er GOP law­makers have grown ac­cus­tomed to re­ceiv­ing mixed re­views dur­ing vari­ous spend­ing dis­putes, even in their right-lean­ing dis­tricts. But the con­stitu­ents Sch­weikert spoke with around 11 p.m. Monday were over­whelm­ingly sup­port­ive, he said. And moreover, the vast ma­jor­ity of them blamed the shut­down drama on Demo­crats’ re­fus­al to budge on Obama­care.

“I think they may have screwed up,” Sch­weikert whispered, nod­ding his head. “There’s a hand­ful of sen­at­ors who may have just made a vote that ends their ca­reers.”

Sch­weikert is but one rep­res­ent­at­ive, yet his per­spect­ive en­cap­su­lates the con­ser­vat­ive dis­pos­i­tion in the days lead­ing up to Sept. 30. Armed with these two self-as­sur­ing sen­ti­ments — bot­tom­less sup­port from their con­stitu­ents, and sub­sequent ex­on­er­a­tion from blame — con­ser­vat­ives have grown em­boldened to the point where they are push­ing their chips to the middle of the table and bet­ting on the de­mise of Pres­id­ent Obama’s health care law.

Sch­weikert was ut­terly cereb­ral in the minutes be­fore the first gov­ern­ment shut­down in 17 years, and maybe a little bit en­thu­si­ast­ic. Not be­cause it doesn’t have real-world rami­fic­a­tions and not be­cause he wanted to see a shut­down. But be­cause Sch­weikert and oth­er con­ser­vat­ives feel great about the gamble they are tak­ing — and feel no pres­sure to fold their hand now.

What We're Following See More »
LORDY, THERE ARE TAPES
Cohen Secretly Recorded Trump Discussing Hush Money Payment
27 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Mr. Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments" to former Playboy model Karen McDougal "who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump." The FBI seized the recording during an April raid of Cohens office. "The Justice Department is investigating Mr. Cohen’s involvement in paying women to tamp down embarrassing news stories about Mr. Trump ahead of the 2016 election," which may violate federal campaign finance laws. Days before the election, Trump campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks denied any knowledge of the payment, and said that the allegations were "totally untrue."

Source:
IN NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED, NO LESS
Rep. Hurd Says Trump Being Manipulated by Putin
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Conservative Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, a former CIA agent, says in a New York Times op-ed this morning that Russian intelligence is "manipulating" President Trump. "The leader of the free world actively participated in a Russian disinformation campaign that legitimized Russian denial and weakened the credibility of the United States to both our friends and foes abroad," he writes.

Source:
JUST AS SENATE VOTES ITS DISAPPROVAL
Trump Backtracks on Putin's "Incredible Offer"
19 hours ago
THE LATEST
ARMS CONTROL, SYRIA WERE DISCUSSED
Russians Refer to "Verbal Agreements" with Trump
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Two days after President Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, Russian officials offered a string of assertions about what the two leaders had achieved. 'Important verbal agreements' were reached at the Helsinki meeting, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told reporters in Moscow Wednesday, including preservation of the New Start and INF agreements," and cooperation in Syria.

Source:
WAS "GRUDGINGLY" CONVINCED
Trump Was Shown Proof of Russian Interference Before Inauguration
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election. The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation. Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed."

×
×

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