Republican Incompetence

I am just floored at the political incompetence of the Republicans in Congress.  Conservatives are arguing that it is all about how the media unfairly  makes Republicans the bad guys in all budget fights, and I think there is some truth in that.  But this was something that was known in advance, and which could be planned for.  I am not a political expert, but if the press really creates a messaging headwind for Republicans, then that means that they need to begin early and push often on a consistent message.

I thought the attempt to roll back Obamacare altogether was an absurd overreach that was merely attempted to help Congressmen head off primary challenges from the Right.  But even so, the GOP only settled on this approach to the budget battle at the absolute last minute.  What they really needed to do was pick a realistic item they were going to fight for, all agree to it 3-4 weeks ago, and then press like hell at every opportunity on the message for that one thing.

Now even political insiders can't name what is in the mish mash bill the House sent yesterday to the Senate.  I know it has a one year individual mandate delay (just in time to bail the Administration out of dire implementation issues) and a few other random things.  Of COURSE Republicans are going to lose the messaging war when they have not even bothered to message at all, even to those of us who could be convinced to start cutting government almost anywhere.


  1. azgp:

    The 1996 elections to the United States Senate
    coincided with the 1996 presidential election, in which Democrats Bill Clinton and Al Gore were reelected President and Vice President of the United States, respectively.

    Despite the reelection of Clinton and Gore, and despite Democrats picking up a net two seats in the elections to the United States House of Representatives held the same day, the Republicans had a net gain of two seats in the Senate, following major
    Republican gains two years previously in the 1994 elections.

    The Republicans captured the open seats in Alabama, Arkansas, and Nebraska.
    In South Dakota, Democrat Tim Johnson defeated incumbent Republican Larry Pressler.

    > the gov has shut down for short times.

    > when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.


    > According to the Congressional Research Service, there
    have been 17 federal shutdowns in U.S. history: six during the Jimmy
    Carter’s four years; eight during Ronald Reagan’s eight years; one for George
    H.W. Bush; and two for Bill Clinton.

    Wow, and nobody hardly remembers.

    Gov shutdowns must really be bad.

  2. jdgalt:

    This fight over a Continuing Resolution is at least partly bluster, but to the extent it's real it's a fight between the Tea Partiers and the GOP establishment, not between Republicans and Democrats.

    I think it will work for the Tea Party, too. It shows quite clearly which Rs are willing to faithfully defend that goal line and which are not. Mitch McConnell is likely to lose his seat as a result of last week's vote, and others will follow.

    Even some Senators I was sure would stand fast, such as Tom Coburn, caved. But they will have a chance to redeem themselves when the next CR goes to the Senate.

  3. Chris Smith:

    Well, the new talking point is that this is NOT a budget battle. How can it be when the Senate has not passed a budget bill in 3 years? (I think it's actually been only 1 budget passed in the last 5 years too.)
    To have a budget debate, there has to be a budget bill on the table. This bill that is being bounced around is just a stop-gap to keep government funding at 2009(?) levels, plus the standard budget base-line inflation.

    The 2010 and 2011 budgets would have been debated and passed by a Democrat-controlled House and Senate. However, Harry Reid is protecting his caucus of Senators by keeping them away from votes that could affect their chances of being re-elected.

  4. mlhouse:

    1. Messaging? THe main stream media are nothing but water carriers for the Democratic party. They are not going to message anything. The Time Magazine college football cover is just an example of how "journalist" in this country have extreme political bias. THey has essentially ignored the IRS issue, the Benghazi issue, Fast and Furious, and a host of other policy errors and scandals. The extreme disservice this does to our country cannot be understated.

    2. Delaying the implementation of ObamaCare is a legitimate strategy. If you do not have the votes to repeal, delaying it to a time when you might makes a lot of sense.

  5. Another_Brian:

    Regarding 1, I think you're working with a biased sample. The "main stream media" are water carriers for the state in general, regardless of who is pulling the levers. Look at how critically the media covered the previous President's push for invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq.

    I see lots of claims of media bias from the Republicans, but mainly it just seems to me like they offer it as a rationalization for why they can't win more often. Maybe it's because the Democrats are more honest about what they're doing. When Democrats say they're going to take from the rich and give to the poor, people aren't surprised when that's what happens. When the Republicans say they're going to cut back government and let people have more control over their own lives, people pretty much ignore them because they recognize that whenever they've been in power, Republicans have done nothing of the sort.

  6. mlhouse:

    I see. I think you live with your head in the ground if you think that the mainstream media are not water carriers for the Democratic party. I don't offer it as a "rationalization" on why they cant win more. It is clear that in modern politics that the party that is going to give someone something FREE is going to win except in rare circumstances.

  7. Another_Brian:

    I think maybe you're seeing differences where none exist. Both parties are happy to buy votes and sell influence. One party is honest about it and the other just tells their base what they want to hear.

  8. mlhouse:

    Hahaha......again, if you don't think that there is a difference in media coverage you just don't pay attention.
    As far as "buying votes" and "selling influence", both parties might be guilty of that. But, there is undoubtedly a difference in the magnitude of such vote buying and influence peddling. One party is the party of every expanding government. The other responds to political realities. The best example of this is Medicare Part D. The Bush Administration responded to heavy political pressure to create the Medicare prescription drug program. I believe they created a very efficient and fair program that is meeting is forecasts and expectations. But that was not enough for the Democrats who wanted more and more and more, and still do.
    In the end, politics is not a theoretical exercise of optimal choices but of stark political realities. To remain politically viable some compromises need to be made and sometimes that makes our choice the lesser of two evils.

  9. mesocyclone:

    I think there are three things at work here:

    1) Republicans are more divided than in the past. That's because disgust at big government has gotten more extreme, and that causes issues in primaries. That means coming up with a consensus strategy may only work when the heat gets high.

    2) The media is more in the tent for the Democrats than ever before. Folks babble about new media, but much of that is also far left. Low information voters are easy prey for leftist memes. I don't think Republicans know how to deal with this, other than surrendering. It is a very hard problem - a result of the left deliberately taking over our culture.

    3) Republicans see polls showing that the majority is against Obamacare and read this to mean they can do this and win. I think they are misreading the polls and ignoring #2 in the process.

    The best thing, IMO, the Republicans can do with this is add only one Obamacare change to the CR - a requirement that Congress be not exempt from Obamacare. I fear that this move, which would force Democrats to vote for special favors for Congress, or Obama to veto the bill, may not be done due to the problems Republicans have it formulating a reasonable strategy.

  10. Curtis:

    The message is totally spun by the media. The guy that fails to see any detectable bias in the media coverage must have failed to notice that 100% of the media blames the Republicans in the House for defunding the government. That's a surprising and across the board attack leveled at republicans given that it was only the republicans who voted for a CR to keep the government going and it was 100% democrats who voted it down and thus voted to shut down the government and a democratic president who swears he will never negotiate with the House majority over anything and also swears to veto any bill they send him.
    Honestly, if you cannot see the bias in the lopsided accusations being leveled against ONLY the republicans, you have nobody to blame except your teachers....and your own bias.

  11. ErikEssig:

    It's really no surprise given that even some (many?) GOPers refer to it as the stupid party.

  12. J Calvert:

    This points to the real issue. Why is the GOP letting Reid get away with this Continuing Resolution BS? Beat him over the head with this illegal and irresponsible budgeting mess.

    That's the root cause of the mess we're in, using CRs allows Reid and Obama to have spending at current levels without on the record votes, bypasses the committee process, and disrupts accountability.

    If Obama and Reid want to play the "law of the land" card, then make them follow the law and pass a budget.

  13. nehemiah:

    Actually the very last iteration of the bill that was sent back to the Senate was a clean CR plus an amendment eliminating any special exemptions or subsidies to members of Congress or their staff. All democrat Senators voted against that bill resulting in the shutdown.

    Starting this process 3-4 weeks earlier wouldn't have changed a thing. The House has been passing bills rolling back various provisions of Obamacare, i.e., pushing the individual mandate back a year to match the employer mandate extension. These House bills never see the light of day in the Senate. I think the House would be smart to pass single department appropriation bills putting certain parts of government back to work.

  14. mesocyclone:

    I wish the last iteration was what you said, but unless I am reading the House information on Thomas incorrectly, it also (unwisely) contained a delay of the individual mandate.

  15. Another_Brian:

    I think I understand now. You have chosen a side, and so what I see as poor journalism and cheer-leading for the state, you see as bias against your side and in favor of the other side.

  16. mlhouse:

    You are so clever for not having chosen a side! Regardless, if you believe that "journalism" is not biased then I have no respect for your opinion. It clearly is.

  17. Another_Brian:

    I think I've said a couple of times now that journalists and the media are biased, but rather than saying they're biased toward one side of the state or the other, I've said that they're biased toward the state as a whole. Since you disapprove of one wing of state while making excuses for the other, you seem to see it only as bias against your favored team.

  18. mlhouse:

    LOL...ok, so it is your position that the "media" treated George W. Bush and Barrack Obama the same way??????????? If you claim that is true, you are a liar or a fool.
    Again, it is great to "not be on any side", but frankly you are just foolish. I can tell you have this infeasible position with respect to government and that means you really have no legitimate argument to make. The reason why we do not have politicians that you can support is that there is no way to be elected, rightfully or wrongfully, on the positions you espouse. In the end, not selecting at least the lesser of two evils is a childish position that makes your political viewpoint worthless.

  19. Another_Brian:

    Thank you for the discussion.