All week we have looked at what was really behind the government shutdown, who was directly responsible for it and how it might end. Well yesterday, two prominent GOP Senators may have let us in a bit more to how we might ultimately see a resolution in this lunacy.
Thinking they were off mic and off camera, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell discussed some strategy for saving face as they try to back out of the spotlight as the ones who put 800,000 federal workers out of work because they have a political ax to grind with the President and the Democrats over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Sen. Paul leans in and tells Sen. McConnell "I don't think they poll tested we won't negotiate." He is referring to a couple of different things with this statement. The first is that the commonplace now for any political rhetoric is that you poll test the phrase or statement to see how it plays with the nations as a whole as well as with your base. The second aspect of this statement is the fact that President Obama and the democratic majority in the Senate have stuck to the fact that they will not negotiate modifying or delaying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as a ransom for putting those 800,000 federal workers back to work.
Paul follows that up by saying "I think it's awful that they keep saying that over and over again." McConnell agrees, saying "Yeah I do too."
Then Paul, who seemingly knows that they are not going to get any victory of substance in this foolish debate, indicates how they may be able to target instead a victory of perception instead. "I think if we keep saying we wanted to defund it (Obamacare), we fought for that, but now we're willing to compromise on this, we're gonna win this I think."
Now let's be perfectly clear here. This is a junior Senator (and Tea Party favorite) talking independently with the Senate Minority Leader and expressing his thoughts. It could be as simple as that. There's no specific indication that this is coming down as the party line, and it has been the Tea Party members in the House that have been the ones holding those 800,000 jobs hostage to try and gain political points with their base voters.
But when you look at the totality of the process this debate that is normally over the budget, not a law that has been passed by the House, passed by the Senate, signed into law by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court, it seems clear that this entire nonsense ultimately will be about making a political statement, and in defeat being able to paint themselves as the ones attempting to do the will of the people in the spirit of compromise, will the evil President and his minions refuse to come to the table to solve problems in a bipartisan way.
The troubling thing about this is the GOP used this same technique during the battle to pass this legislation, and they rallied the conservative voters into a frenzy that the totalitarian Democrats were building a Socialistic empire at the expense of liberty and the working class. Clearly they poll tested their rhetoric and at the midterm elections Tea Party candidates from across the nation were voted into office under the premise that they would come to D.C. and focus on debt control and jobs.
Meanwhile, they have voted to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act 43 times, passed numerous pieces of legislation attempting to limit women's reproductive rights and exactly no bills targeting job creation.
But so long as you can save face and win the battle of perception, perhaps actual performance doesn't mean very much.