Our political Quote of the Day comes from CNN and The Daily Beast’s John Avlon, writing in Telegraphabout how Republicans are threatening to go nuclear and push the United States into a debt default if they don’t get their way. He starts off with this:
For decades, the key question when dealing with the murderous mullahs of the Islamic Republic was whether they were rational actors or ideological absolutists willing to blow the world up to pursue their own ends.
Now suddenly a comparative moderate is president of Iran and a cabal of 50 or so radical right-wing congressmen are looking like irrational actors on the world stage, threatening to go nuclear by shutting down the government while holding the full faith and credit of the USA hostage to their demands as the debt ceiling approaches.
At issue is their mathematically-challenged insistence that President Obama cut off funding for his signature health care law – set to begin next week – or face a government shutdown and the prospect of the USA defaulting on its debt payments. This isn’t going to happen for a dozen reasons, not least of which is fact that Democrats control the Senate as well as the White House.
But fantasies can be more compelling than reality and one man is making his political fortune by pushing this fiction – Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
He ends with this:
On a purely political level, Democrats are watching the GOP’s internecine warfare with a sense of amazement because it could deliver them gains in the 2014 midterm elections and beyond. But the economic fallout could be devastating – a form of mutually assured destruction. And so President Obama has double justification in declaring that he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling again as he did in 2011.
Republicans have lost control of the conservative populist forces that helped them ride to congressional victory in 2010. These folks are happy to ruin if they cannot rule. But the real reason the rot of polarisation is setting in is because the rigged system of redistricting has created safe districts where Republican congressmen will only lose their seats if they are challenged from the right in closed partisan primaries – and Cruz & Co are promising to support these Tea Party challenges. So the GOP congressional leadership is caught in a trap of their own making, without the ability to govern responsibly as they not-so-secretly see fit. It is just the latest reminder that extremes are ultimately their own side’s worst enemy.
Now read it in its entirety — from beginning to end.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.