“Do we fight the fights we can win? You fight the fights that need fighting.”
—Martin Sheen as A.J. MacInerney in The American President
I had intended to open up with some initial discussion about where I’m coming from and what I’m trying to do, but there’s no time. Let’s get into it.
It’s a funny thing about the American Left; the rules and even their own statements just don’t apply to them. As we listen to the histrionic rhetoric coming from the White House and Congressional Democrats over the stand being taken by the so-called “Tea Party Freshmen” on the debt ceiling, I am reminded of my late Constitutional Law professor, whom I loved very much, but with whom I had many, shall we say, vigorous disagreements. She once told me that she had to position herself out on the extreme far left “in order to bring the conversation to the middle” (as though otherwise it’s on the far right—yeah, right).
But if the only ones doing the talking are the Left and the spineless who occupy the center for the sake of compromise, the discussion doesn’t take place in the middle. It inherently takes place on the left. Like Winston Churchill’s anecdotal whore, we’ve already established what we are, and now we’re just haggling over how much it’s going to cost.
Why is it that when the Left wins, it gets to assume a mandate to implement its agenda, and the right is told to get in the back of the bus “and not do a lot of talking,” but when the right wins and attempts to stand up for conservative principles it is accused of rigid ideology (as though that’s a bad thing, but that’s another discussion for another time) and immature political posturing? Why is it that compromise and bipartisanship always means the Left getting its way?
Notice that without making any concrete proposals of their own, it has been liberal Democrats who have purported to dictate the terms of the discussion and what is and is not on the table (tax increases are on, Obamacare is off). And sight unseen both the President and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were already publicly announcing last week that any proposal from House Republicans would be “dead on arrival.” Friday night’s passage of the House proposal to raise the debt ceiling but requiring a balanced budget amendment marked the second piece of actual legislation on the budget to pass the House in the last two weeks. Contrast that with the Democrat-controlled Senate, which has passed exactly zero budget bills over the last two-and-a-half YEARS, and zero serious budget proposals from the White House (Obama’s only concrete proposal was rejected 97-0 by the Senate, meaning even Harry Reid and Charles Schumer couldn’t bring themselves to vote for it). Yet, there’s Schumer accusing House conservatives of delay, Reid saying the Senate can’t wait on the House any longer, and Obama asking whether conservatives “can say yes to anything.” And even as I type this at midday on Sunday July 31, Reid’s Senate has still passed nothing (except to reject the House bill essentially within minutes of its passage, once again likely reflecting the Democrats’ willingness to vote on legislation without reading it), and yet it is he who is chiding conservatives on the need to be “balanced.”
In response, Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have continued to fall all over themselves to find a compromise solution even as the Left told them nothing more than “spit higher.” As it stands now, it looks like a deal will get done, but no real cuts in spending—that’ll be the next post—and a definite expansion in federal borrowing. But the question I’ve had is why are they always insisting on bidding against themselves? And why are they shouting down the voices of conservative lawmakers within their own ranks in the process? John McCain has been out there calling them “foolish.” Boehner and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy have been behind closed doors feverishly twisting arms to cajole conservative representatives to fall in line. We’re told we have to take what we can get, we can’t be too extreme or we can’t win the next election. We have to go along to get along. And that’s the problem—too many in the Republican Party are more concerned about winning elections than they are in shaping the debate. This kind of pragmatism is worthless if all it means is the people sent to fight the Left are giving in to the Left. That’s a losing mindset, and it’s what begets nominees like McCain and Bob Dole.
Or Neville Chamberlain.
Taking a stand in support of conservative principles doesn’t make you immature, and it doesn’t make you a racist, and it doesn’t make you a Hobbit. UPDATE 8/1: Nor does it make you a terrorist, Mr. Vice President. With apologies to then-Senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, I am sick and tired of being told it is irresponsible to contest this administration and its agenda. The “Tea Party” freshmen and other true conservatives in Congress are doing exactly what their constituents sent them to D.C. in 2010 to do, and compromising with the President and the Left to allow continued uncontrolled spending isn’t part of that mandate. As Obama has famously and repeatedly reminded us, “elections have consequences.” Kudos to the few (wish my Rep were among them, but he’ll be hearing from me . . . again) who have continued to show backbone and resist the policy of appeasement that has infected GOP leadership. Only from groups like them can we expect to find another Reagan—someone who can articulate the conservative position and stick to it.
In the meantime, if that means gridlock and a government shutdown, so be it. You can’t heal an alcoholic by continuing to restock his liquor cabinet.