Robert Knight

Baseball and football fans know that when coaches chew out umpires, there’s little chance that the questionable call will be overturned – especially in baseball. But in many cases, that’s not the intent. The idea is to intimidate the umpire into giving them a better call the next time around.

I thought about that in October when the Democrats and media fomented massive outrage over the two-week, partial government shutdown. The crocodile tears were not really shed over the government employees who were made whole in very short order after a taxpayer-funded furlough. It was about the next round, which just played out this week in budget negotiations. And the round coming up again in January.

The shell-shocked, shutdown-wary House Republicans are scurrying mightily to approve a budget deal before Christmas. The bill concocted by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) increases federal spending, undoes part of the hard-earned Sequester cuts and raises taxes on airline security and thus on airline passengers. What’s not to like?

The rationale for this sorry deal is that “the Republican brand” got burned badly in the shutdown. So why risk blame for another one? By caving in early, and for less than $100 billion in new spending, which is chump change in Washington, the GOP can instead put the horrors of Obamacare back on the front burner right through 2014. They are counting on the Tea Party and other fiscal conservatives to get over it quickly and focus on their common foe. GOP strategists seem far more easily frightened by bad reactions from liberals than from the people who delivered them a sweeping, historic electoral victory in 2010 and who could do so again – unless they tune out in disgust.

Maybe the strategists are right, though. In a toxic media environment where even good sound bites are ignored or twisted into nonsense, the Ryan-Murray deal could be the best of bad options.

That’s a shame, because the GOP is holding powerful cards, starting with public outrage over Obamacare and the lies that facilitated it. There is also the disturbing and widening Benghazi scandal, and a growing list of economic victims of the White House’s war on the private sector, including coal miners and millions of others who have been out of work for years.

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.