Milbank's summary of Senate Republicans' disgraceful behavior yesterday in the confirmation of Chuck Hagel is borderline despondent. He writes that "It was one of many moments from the past few weeks that Joe McCarthy would have admired"--and that was one of his more cheerful observations.
I note this only because Dana Milbank generally finds some humor in even the bleakest of partisan degradations. And if he's stuck for giggles, he simply exaggerates the banal. But neither inclination applies this time, and the banality of Republican disgrace needs no exaggeration in its unalterable unfunniness.
Why are congressional Republicans behaving this way now, so soon after what many believed was November's reset?--you know, behaving this way and that, molesting distinguished nominees and further hobbling a crippled economy?
Two logical possibilities suggest themselves: 1) Republicans really are endowed with the anarchic Hobbesianism and yet primordial cryptofascism of Adorno et al's "Authoritarian Personality"; or, more charitably, 2) Republicans are, in the best of hyperpartisan bubbleology, merely honoring Mitch McConnell's infamous 2010 pledge to make Obama a one-term president. Effectively speaking, that is.
(I suppose one could argue an admixture--that congressional Republicans are, by and large, pathological cryptofascists hellbent on the full-blown anarchy of American Dream-cancellation for precisely four years--but why spoil some blogospherically perfect reductionism?)
Of these two possibilities, I fear--or, like Milbank, I'm somewhat despondent about--the second one more. Because as a sustained political program, it's also quite workable within the American system of governance (of sorts).