There is now a second, optimistic school of liberal/progressive/Democratic thought on the matter of Republican barbarity. And, no surprise, it is elegantly presented this morning by that indefatigable optimist, E.J. Dionne:
There are, believe it or not, grounds for hoping that the so-called sequester, stupid as it is, might open the way to ending our nation’s budget stalemate.... [T]he strongest reason for hope arise[s] from one of the most basic human responses: exhaustion.
The NY Times editorial board, however, still grips the old standard:
The Republicans have made it clear that the spending fight will never cease ... [and they're] hoping to wear down their opposition with these eternal battles.
Dionne is correct to point to bipartisan exhaustion (e.g., John McCain, "Even we are tired ... of lurching from one cliff to another"), yet the NYT seems more correct in pointing to exhaustion's pronounced imbalance in that bipartisan mix.
Did not the Republican House just yesterday swiftly and undramatically pass a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown later this month? Yes it did. But it did so only because its CR restructured the Democratically dreaded sequester in ways that pretty much suit Republicans only. So the House CR is a product not of bipartisan exhaustion, but of partisan triumph.
We'll see how crisis-averse House Republicans are after the Democratic Senate refashions the Defense-biased, neediest-crushing CR. I'd wager now, though, that congressional Republicans will indeed avert a shutdown, because Democrats will capitulate in this latest of budget clashes, because Democrats are the exhausted ones while Republicans are merely content.
Why wouldn't they be? The even larger story this week from that old familiar department of 'Well duh' is Republicans' knuckledragging realization that the White House not only demands more revenue but actually welcomes entitlement reforms. (GOP cloakroom: "OK, which of you clowns knew we'd already won and didn't bother telling the rest of us? What do you boys think this budget war is--the Battle of New Orleans?")
And whoever believes Republicans won't enthusiastically re-rally around the debt limit this summer so as to nail down, if needed, entitlement cuts, as well as to further weigh down Obama's second term with mindless spats and unconscionable blow-ups, well ...
Look, it's who they are. It's why they are. I don't care what McConnell or Boehner says about a deal. They're gonna kill Pop, that's it. That's the key for them.
Dionne et al are excessively bullish on good governance if they really believe congressional Republicans are--courtesy exhaustion--rehabilitating themselves. That sensible path, it seems to me, still awaits; for if nothing else, congressional Republicans still have the 2014 primary gauntlets to run.