August 2, 2014

Following the chaos we saw on the House floor this week, where Sen. Ted Cruz managed to stick it to John Boehner once again and get the Republicans to vote against their own extremely right-wing immigration bills, and with members of their caucus appearing on television demanding that we deport all of those DREAMers right now, David Brooks was finally forced to admit that maybe the GOP has a bit of a problem with their stance on immigration.

From this Friday's PBS Newshour:

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Washington, House Republicans were racing to pass something on the border crisis after a day of confusion and chaos on Capitol Hill Thursday.

For a taste of what went on today around the Capitol, here’s some of what we heard from both sides.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-Minn.: We were able to come to a point of 218 yes-votes on what arguably is the most monumental vote that we will take in this entire term. And it’s dealing with the issue that the American people care about more than any other. And that is stopping the invasion of illegal foreign nationals into our country. And we got to yes.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, D-Ill.: It is almost as though they despise and hate all of our children, because even the children that came before them that have pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States all of their lives, love this country, and the president has afforded them an opportunity to become legal, they want to put them in an illegal situation.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It caps off what’s been a roller-coaster week in American politics.

And here to analyze it all, Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

So, gentlemen, high tempers on the Capitol — at the Capitol yesterday, today.

David, what are we to make of all this?

DAVID BROOKS: It’s sort of happening on two levels. There’s the political meta level and then there’s the substance level.

The meta level is, this is — nothing is going to pass, nothing is going to happen. This is all negotiating about a bill that has zero chance of actually becoming law. So this is a bunch of positioning. It’s Ted Cruz and some House members positioning against the leadership.

It’s a lot of Republicans saying, at least we passed something, so positioning for the voters. So, it’s all about positioning. As for the substance, I frankly don’t understand the Republican position at all. You have got a refugee crisis. You have got these kids coming here.

There’s a need for some sort of balanced approach. Yes, you have got to secure the border. Yes, there have to be some hearings. Yes, there has to be a sped-up process for that. There probably needs to be some more money for that. Some sort of balanced approach seems eminently sensible.

Securing the border, deporting some of them, yes, who can sent back fairly, but then having some hearings to figure out who’s who. And it seems to me the Republicans have basically their policy — at least the political emphasis that’s come out is deport, deport, deport, wall, wall, wall.

It seems to me to make little sense in the short-term and is extremely damaging for Republicans in the long term.

After his cohort Mark Shields points out how heartless the GOP's position no immigration is and that they want to ignore the law on deportations that was passed under George W. Bush, Brooks does his best to rationalize the xenophobia and fearmongering we've seen from them, and blames it on the "Palin-ization" of the party and them being more worried about having sound bites and talking points that play well on Fox.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But why is it so hard? If they feel so strongly about this, why aren’t they able to come together and get something passed?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, there’s a couple of reasons.

First, there are a lot of people in this country, legitimately, who think that there is no control of the border, and this issue illustrates the chaos on the border. So, that’s fair. Second — and I think the Republicans do have a point that the original bill, the 2008 law that was passed under Bush, that seems to have had some role in sort of drawing people up here, that probably does need to change.

JUDY WOODRUFF: This is the one that made it easier for children coming in.

DAVID BROOKS: Right. And it didn’t directly apply, but it seems to have sent a false signal to some people that, if they send their kids here, they will be let in.

So that’s all fair enough. But this is about Palin-ization of parts of the GOP. This is not about passing legislation, not about, well, we’re in a party. We should pay attention to our leaders. We should craft some compromise. We should compromise with the other side. This is about making a statement that will sound good on FOX.

And so they want to make a statement that will sound good on TV or will sound good at a town meeting, but it’s not actually about governing. And there are a lot of — and my question is, OK, Ted Cruz, senator, it should be said, met with a bunch of House members, which doesn’t happen that often, and sort of helped organize this.

So, which senator is going to stand up and be the anti-Cruz? Who is going to stand up for Republican values, but I believe in governing? And so far, that person has not emerged.

This started long before Palin or Cruz made their way into the national spotlight. The Republican party has generally managed to keep the extremists in their base at bay, but now that the inmates are running the asylum, it's a bit harder for the likes of Brooks to pretend this isn't exactly who they've been pandering to for decades.

He wants the PBS viewers to believe that there's a anyone left in the party who still cares about governing or that some "moderate" is going to rise among their ranks and get the Ted Cruz's of the world to fall in line. Good luck with that.

The only "governing" Republicans care about doing is passing deregulation, tax cuts for their campaign donors, union-busting, gutting our social safety nets, making it harder for Democrats to vote, regulating women's reproductive health and scaring the hell out of everyone that the country is going to be overrun by those dirty brown people invading us from the south. That and throwing more money at our military industrial complex and starting more wars. There's always enough money for that in GOP-land with no offsets needed to the budget.

Here's more with Brooks pretending there are so-called "moderates" waiting in the wings to rescue them from the likes of Ted Cruz.

MARK SHIELDS: In a very cynical way, Judy, Democrats are sort of sitting back. They’re playing a very bad field in this election.

The president’s job rating is in the low 40s, and the 30s in some of the states in the key Senate battleground races.


MARK SHIELDS: In addition to that, the country right direction/wrong track number, people think the country is headed in the wrong direction.

And the intensity is with Republican voters in most polls over Democratic voters. And the Republicans are kicking this away. They have taken an issue which really was the administration’s responsibility, the border — it’s any administration’s responsibility — and all of a sudden they have clouded it up, and they’re playing defense, trying to explain it.

And why Steve King, who is the most ardent, even xenophobic, anti-comprehensive immigration Republican in the House, he’s chortling that this — this is a bill picked from my menu.

And that’s exactly where they don’t want to be in the long term.

DAVID BROOKS: So, you can just see, that’s why we need an anti-Cruz, because when all the guts and all the courage are on one side, then the policy flows to where the courage and the energy is. And there’s been very little courage on the other side.

I just — I think I might disagree, or at least to say it’s too soon to tell whether this will affect this election.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, that’s what I wanted to ask.

DAVID BROOKS: The Gallup organization does these which party are you leaning toward, and usually Democrats are always ahead, because they are just more of a — but they have lower turnout, so the Democrats have to have a huge leaning-toward advantage to do well in a fall term.

Right now, they’re leaning-toward advantage, more — only 2 percent more people say I’m leaning to become a Democrat than leaning to be a Republican. That’s a very small margin historically. It’s the similar sort of margin that existed in 1994, 2002, 2010, which were all good Republican years.

So if look at the polling, I still think it’s going to be a good Republican year, unless this has an effect in the next weeks or months ahead.



I don’t think — I think it does lean to the Republicans, not to the degree that 2010 did. 2010 was really — you could see a cataclysm in the works. But in a strange way, some Democrats are looking — especially presidential, those concerned with the 2016 race — and are almost saying,, given the performance of the House Republicans in the last couple of weeks or even this session, and the trouble they have been for John Boehner and the revolts they have led and all the rest of it, it might be the most helpful thing in the world, not for public policy, but for the Democrats’ political advantage, if the Republicans control both the House and the Senate in — after the 2014 election, and they then have to…

JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s pretty cynical.

MARK SHIELDS: It’s cynical, but will the governing — they have no governing philosophy.

Fifty-two times, the House Republicans have voted against the Affordable Care Act, to repeal Obamacare. To this day, as we sit here, there is no Republican health care plan. This is five years after…

DAVID BROOKS: They dispute that. They think there is. There’s a Dave Camp plan there. They say they have an agenda. Dave Camp has an agenda. Paul Ryan had his poverty agenda. Mike Lee has an agenda.

I do think there’s a broader agenda. If I were a Democrat, I would rather prefer to win than to…

JUDY WOODRUFF: But I keep coming — I want to come back to David’s point that there — where’s the anti-Cruz, anti-Ted Cruz?

There clearly is a big school of thought in the Republican Party that this is the wrong way to go, but where are those folks? Where are they?

DAVID BROOKS: It’s, if anything, the majority — and I’m not even talking about moderates. There are really very conservative members that really dislike Cruz, because they do think, we have the govern, we have — we just believe in the institution. He has not emerged.


MARK SHIELDS: But an anti-Cruz — Ted Cruz did something that’s really unprecedented. That is a senator meeting with a couple of dozen House members to lead basically a revolt, a legislative revolt, against the leadership. I mean, this was the first test of the Boehner-McCarthy-Scalise leadership.

This was going to be their — the new team after Eric Cantor’s defeat and resignation. And, you know, they have got egg all over their face. And for what purpose? What did it achieve?

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, but you’re right. This was the first chance for them to show what they can do.

Sorry BoBo, but Paul Ryan's latest poverty "plan" is nothing but more than a way to cut access to social services and is not "moderate." Dave Camp's budget proposal, as bad as it was, was dead on arrival with today's Republican party. And Mike Lee's agenda seems to be shaming women who want affordable access to birth control and claiming it's "for recreational behavior" and his budget proposal was written by wingnut Jim DeMint's Heritage Foundation. But these are the GOP "moderate" saviors according to Brooks.


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