Confronted once again with absolutely unimpeachable evidence of the dementia and nihilistic fanaticism of his Republican Party, America's Most Trusted Conservative Thought Leader and Humility Guru -- David Brooks -- drains the Both Siderist jug right down to the lees.
First, turning John Boehner's immolation-by-shoutycracker into an ethereally "beautiful" martyrdom:
DAVID BROOKS: ... And so there’s an element of uplift, and might as well do the right thing. And this specific act was the right thing. Paul Ryan called it a selfless act. And I think it really is a selfless act. It spares us from a potential government shutdown. It helps the institution. It helps his party from the fallout from a government shutdown.
And so I think it’s a beautiful act. Now, over the long term, the downside of Boehner was that he wasn’t that imaginative and the Republicans weren’t that aggressive in putting together a lot of policies, an alternative to Obamacare, a health care, a tax plan, whatever.
And, second, explaining away the absolutely unimpeachable evidence of Republican dementia and fanaticism as some institutional problem which affects both parties and for which everyone bears responsibility. Sure, his GOP may be a little bit more rough-housey in their tactics, but really this is a problem with both parties (emphasis added because it's my blog):
DAVID BROOKS: I think a lot is going to be the same, assuming Kevin McCarthy takes over.
He’s not that totally different than Boehner. He’s happy. He’s a happy guy. He’s a charming guy, right now a little more in favor with the very conservatives, but he’s still basically a reality-based politician. And he will understand how to try to do deals.
So, I think he will get a little bit of a breather. But the people who believe that they’re in office not to pass legislation, but merely to express their id are still there. And so that conflict will still be there.
And then, more structurally — Elaine Kamarck of the Brookings Institution had a good piece today saying that the office of the speaker is weaker because there’s less earmarks, so they can’t give away pork projects to control people. The parties are weaker because of campaign finance. And there’s just a lot of free-spirited individualism in the House now.↓ Story continues below ↓
And people can go off freelancing off on their own. And so the institutional power is a little weaker. So, even when a Democrat comes in, I think we’re going to see a lot more fractiousness.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Even when a Democrat comes in? You mean even…
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I mean, it’s different.
I think both parties are ideologically polarized. The Republican — some of the Republican Party doesn’t believe in politics. I think most of the Democratic Party does believe in politics. They’re the party of government. They believe in government.
And, so, in some sense, the Republican Party can get a little more extreme over tactics, but I think it will be hard for speakers in the future to control people, just because, if you have got a super PAC, if you got some independent expenditures, it’s hard to impose discipline anymore on the body...
To his credit, Mr. Brooks' political life-partner -- Mark Shields -- very gently called "bullshit" on the idea that this is some trans-party institutional problem:
MARK SHIELDS: Less gets done, Judy, I believe.
And could I be rude and just say that there are probably four dozen members of the House Republican Caucus who do not believe in government? And they are not — they have never accepted the responsibility of the governing party.
I mean, John Boehner accepted the fact that the Republicans are the majority party in the House and the Senate. Therefore, we have a responsibility to keep government operating, not to close it down, to fund it, to compromise, to get the votes necessary to pass the legislation required. And there are four dozen who say, hell no, if it does close down, great, that’s good, that’s what we’re here about...
To his ongoing shame, Mr. Shields never, ever, ever mentions that the reason this bullshit is on the teevee in the first place is that it keeps pouring unchecked out of the mouth-holes of astronomically remunerated Conservative hacks like David Brooks.
American political teevee would be immediately and radically improved by pairing hacks like Mr. Brooks with intelligent people who would verbally pistol-whip them until they cried like a toddler who just found out the stove was hot the hard way.
It would also be immensely entertaining.
Which is why the whole, vast multi-billion-dollar machinery of American political teevee is designed to prevent that from ever happening.
Crossposted at driftglass.blogspot.com