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The President and Democrats owe Republicans no face-saving measures

Jon Stewart:  "Obama's not the problem"
Jon Stewart: "Obama's not the problem"Google Images

With the government still in shutdown mode, and the threat of default looming in a couple of days, it appears that some Republicans are seeking a cure for the tea party curse that has plagued them for the past few weeks. Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are gritting their teeth and working together, and, rumor has it, are close to reaching a deal. But then, that's just the Senate; House Republicans, who gleefully shut down the government a couple of weeks back, will no doubt tack on some irrational, unreasonable, completely unattainable demands to tank the deal - and will then blame President Obama, and initiate impeachment proceedings. All in a day's work for House Republicans.

And yet, as crazy as it seems, Republicans, even while the losing buzzer sounds for them, continue to subscribe to their apparently intractable and incurable condition of megalomania. For instance, Senator John McCain, an outspoken critic of the Republican Obamacare Opposition Forces, led by Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, who forced the government shutdown, believes that the government should re-open, the debt ceiling should be raised - thereby avoiding a U.S. debt default - but still, in the end, believes that Democrats should bow their heads in humility as they cut a deal with Republican crazy people to get them to perform the bare minimum required of them - to keep the government up and running. Said McCain, "The Democrats, I think, by doing negotiations now, are doing the right thing . . . Because you really don't want to crow over a victory. They know they're going to win. They know that. But we need to try to get an agreement that gives some something for the Republicans."

Wait, give who what?

Can we talk?

Here's the one thing, okay, two things - make it three things - that are striking about this concept of Democratic turn-the-other-cheek'ism. First of all, Democrats and the President owe Republicans no rewards, no pats on the head, for simply requiring that they do their job of funding the government and authorizing the Treasury to pay for debts we've already racked up; that's the least we can expect of them. Second, this whole Republican government shutdown thing was intended to be a blazing success for Republicans, the final showdown with President Obama in which they'd emerge the victors, instead of the epic fail that it was - and we still don't hear any of them making noises of regret or humility, despite their remarkable miscalculation. And third, this notion that Democrats and the President owe Republicans some sort of face-saving measure is absurd. The Republican decision-making that went into the government shutdown wasn't like the movie Gremlins, where the bad furry things inhabited the bodies of the cute, cuddly furry things against their will. Republicans made a choice to lock horns with the President and Democrats over a law - Obamacare - that (and as boring as it's beginning to sound, we need to be a broken record about this) was passed by the House and Senate, signed by the President, upheld by the Supreme Court, and sturdily fought off 42 Republican-driven repeal attempts. The idea that Democrats are now - because we're compassionate that way? - supposed to go easy on Republicans, give them a graceful way out of the hopeless mess they've created for themselves, give a little giggle and a shrug and say, "Ah, it's okay, it wasn't that bad," completely discounts the trouble that Americans have endured at their miserable hands, not only during the past few weeks, but since the President was elected - and re-elected.

We owe them nothing. If we owe them anything, it's a kick in their Brooks Brothers-clad rear ends and a stomp on their Florsheim-clad feet. We don't owe them an easy way out, we don't owe them a way to save face, we aren't required to offer them any measure of compassion to help them regain their dignity. For the good of the nation - and as a reminder in the days to come, when the debt ceiling re-emerges as a topic and when, once again, Republicans don't get exactly what they want and threaten another government shutdown - we need them to wallow in the reality that they're the losers, that they failed, that their thuggish antics have accomplished nothing except a steep drop in the public approval polls and the dawning realization (they may be slow, but they'll get there) that not only did the President not cave to their demands, despite their best efforts to see President Obama fall on their sword, Americans still like the President better than they like Republicans.

If Republicans are to learn anything about how to play nice with other children - which is, if the past is the best predictor of the future, a long shot at best - this recent Republican debacle has to be a teachable moment. Americans don't like bullies and tyrants and despots and demagogues - and despite the Republican wish list that we grant them asylum for their horrid acts, we'd be doing Americans a great disservice if we did.