Unto the jungle gods of politics we commit the bodies of our Republican brethren -- earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust -- in sure and certain hope of these ignoramuses' political extinction ...
Well, now, isn't that the media narrative as to the hooting and hollering in Washington, D. C., over debt ceilings, government shutdowns and so on and so on?
Is there anything to such talk? I suggest that before moving that discussion forward we acknowledge and bewail the barren naivete of those Republicans -- are you listening, Sen. Cruz? -- who thought all they had to do to make Obamacare go away was fold their arms and clamp their jaws. I cannot think of a serious politician of 50 years ago -- Ev Dirksen, Sam Rayburn, Lyndon Johnson, Dick Russell, Barry Goldwater -- who would have believed such a fantastic notion for longer than it took to empty a shot glass of bourbon. Politics was then thought of as the art of the possible, not the fruitless.
Nevertheless, it took two parties to trash this particular ballroom -- with the invaluable encouragement of the President of the United States, his favorite response to suggestions being, would you kindly shut up? Or would you just plain shut up?
Absent Obama's know-it-allness, matters would hardly have built to this pitch and intensity. From the start of his stewardship, the President seemed not to care that he was dealing with flesh-and-blood people on Capitol Hill; few of them are in need of regular instruction from him as to their constitutional duties.
Obama, as we know by now, never aims for agreement; he aims for conquest. If you support his ideas, that's well and good. If you don't, you're a know-nothing. Small wonder Obamacare passed Congress with nary a Republican vote. It was Obama's way or the highway -- and still is.
It gets worse. A lofty, arrogant way of transacting business leads directly to such stalemates as started this fall. Or, in W.H. Auden's memorable lines, "I and the public know/What all schoolchildren learn/ Those to whom evil is done/Do evil in return." A word like "evil" may fit the present context clumsily, but it seems worth noting that running over people in your limousine doesn't turn them into lifelong, or even temporary, allies and pals. Can Obama, can Harry Reid, can any congressional Democrat truly suppose that a Republican congressional bloc with Democratic tread marks on its back will labor to help him in any substantive way?