By the time you read this, “The Shutdown” may be over, but the first ten days did reveal some things worth noting. In purely random order they include the following:
The conventional wisdom endlessly trumpeted by the “mainstream media” is that the shutdown is a disaster for Republicans. Yet the very fluid first week polls on “Blame” averaged 44% of the people pointing the finger at Republicans, and 35% at Democrats- bad numbers for the GOP, but hardly catastrophic.
The clear message from the Administration was “Be Afraid, Very Afraid”. Utter Panic across the Land was supposed to be a real possibility. However when people realized that the “Big Money”- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Military pay etc.- was still rolling out right on time- the hoped for Panic turned into a Big Yawn.
With their usual genius for Public Relations the Park Service barricaded the World War II Memorial and attempted to turn away those veterans who were flown to Washington courtesy of the most admirable “Honor Flights” program. The men who stormed the beaches of Normandy were having none of this and promptly removed the barricades and marched in. The Park Service- seeming to audition for a remake of “Dumb and Dumber”- returned the next day and replaced the barricades with barbed wire! By this time even nervous Democratic Senators like Missouri’s Claire Mc Caskill were rushing over to the Memorial to assist home state vets to gain access.
Not to be outdone by the Park Service, the Pentagon issued a directive warning Catholic priests that they would be liable to arrest if they attempted to voluntarily say Sunday Mass on military bases during the Shutdown.
The Democratic strategy is essentially fear mongering in hope of restoring Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. The Wall St. Journal quoted an anonymous “senior Administration official” as saying they didn’t care how long the shutdown lasted because “they were winning”. The Democratic bet is that a divided GOP will cave in and surrender not just on the shutdown but on the looming Debt Ceiling as well.
This approach is similar to the “Sky Is Falling” gambit Obama tried during the fight over the “Sequester”. That tactic flopped because the GOP didn’t crack and the Sky didn’t Fall. Both then and now the main danger for the Democrats is overplaying their hand.
On the shutdown the polls favor Obama. The people still don’t like Obamacares but they don’t think shutting down the government is the way to deal with it. Regarding the Debt Ceiling however the polls dramatically flip. Strong majorities feel that any rising of the Debt Limit must be accompanied by spending reductions an outcome that is anathema to Obama.
Hindsight says the GOP should have made their stand on the Debt Limit not the Shutdown, however with each passing day it’s looking likely that the two issues will soon merge into one. At that point Obama’s “No Negotiations” posture becomes untenable because the stakes are simply too high. Then the danger for Obama- and the country- is that like the Syrian crisis events take on a life of their own and move toward consequences neither foreseen nor desired.
In the Democratic worldview there is no limit to a program of perpetually raising taxes to fund constantly increasing spending to support an endlessly metastasizing welfare state. Obama’s concept of Presidential leadership is the relentless pursuit of this agenda to the exclusion of all else. The moral purity of this traditional Leftist “Social Justice” crusade fully justifies the demonization of opponents as terrorists, hostage takers, tools of the rich, or simply crazy.
The exploding debt and deficits required to support this Utopian enterprise constitute a vast program of Intergenerational Theft that already mortgages the future of our children and threatens to permanently foreclose the American Dream.
Obama’s demand to unconditionally reopen the government and raise the Debt Ceiling is a sad reprise of an old refrain: “Let’s Kick the Can down the Road and Let the Kids deal with Consequences Later On”.
Whenever Reality collides with Fantasy, Reality wins, and there is Inevitable Pain. How ironic that those who are saying “Deal with the Pain Now” are being derided as Fantasists, while those who say “Deal with the Pain Later” are praised as Realists.
So, in the end who benefits? Beyond a possible, but uncertain short term edge for Democrats, the answer is no one. Not for parties, or people, or future generations will History view these Strange Encounters us either useful or honorable. Long term, the Road ahead only grows more treacherous.
William Moloney’s columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Denver Post, and Human Events