There seems to be a common line of demarcation separating two basic factions on the political right in the various skirmishes we have fought against Barack Obama, from their markedly different approaches to the budget battles to their differences in sizing up the GOP presidential candidates.
On one side we have the more moderate group, which is more cautious, less risk averse, less excitable, self-consciously pragmatic and more tolerant toward an establishment ruling class, even if not per se establishment itself. On the other side are those who perceive more urgency in our current national condition, are more adamant about adhering to conservative principles to reverse this catastrophe and reject the charge that they are recklessly purist.
Many from the first group have urged restraint and pragmatism in the budget negotiations, insisting it was too risky to force a government shutdown with Obama, that the big prize is 2012 and the best way to secure it is to avoid taking a hard line, which would hand Obama 2012 propaganda ammunition.
In each round of budget battles, with a spirit of defeatism and resignation, they warned against Republican brinksmanship, because they were convinced Obama would automatically win every PR victory. It was as though they had forgotten who’d won the 2010 congressional elections.
Obviously, they didn’t believe Republicans could convince the electorate that they had the better argument, even though they were the ones drawing a line in the sand on spending, which was what caused the crisis. Also, they had no confidence that Republicans could persuade voters that Democrats were lying when they said that the government would actually default on its major obligations.
The first group seemed less outraged that the entire ruling class, including our GOP guys, allowed mere reductions in spending increases to be called spending cuts. Nor were they as troubled when our guys, instead of saying, “Sorry, folks, this is the best we can do under a dishonest socialist president,” came closer to saying, “Hey, we’ve achieved a pretty good deal here in real terms.”