Forget the Republican Party’s need to rebrand itself. Forget party elders’ promises that they will start reaching out to minorities. And forget the supposed soul-searching that is meant to sweep over the GOP as it undergoes a serious reexamination of its future.
Right now, Republicans are having trouble even getting out of their own way.
Conservative groups are splintering. The Romney campaign has dissolved into backbiting and billing disputes. A “plan B” to avert the fiscal cliff proved to be a colossal embarrassment. A teetotaling Idaho senator has been charged with drunk driving. But the most striking symptom of the GOP’s horrible moment is the party’s inability to get done what virtually everyone here knows is in its political best interest: A hasty surrender.
So far, not anything too earthshattering, right? Post-election “GOP in civil war!” stories are a dime a dozen.
But then things get interesting:
It’s difficult to find a Republican operative who is willing to say on the record that going over the fiscal cliff next Tuesday is a good idea. Provoking a crisis is bad politics: Republicans are resigned to taking the blame. And it’s bad for their policy agenda: They will likely be cornered into a broader tax hike than the best deal they could get from President Barack Obama today, and with none of the spending cuts that might now be on the table.
And yet, the dominant emotion among most Republicans here is one of sheer resignation.
“It’s a shit show,” one prominent Republican told BuzzFeed of the GOP’s messaging position. “Tax rates are going to go up on everyone, and we’re going to get the blame.”
Everyone agrees that going over the fiscal cliff would be a political disaster for the marty, yet no one seems to be able to steer their boat around and away from the falls. That would take some sort of leadership and McConnell and Boehner — especially Boehner — don’t lead. They march out in front of their crazy-pants caucuses and pretend they’re leading. They’re actually following from the front.
As a result, the party’s a runaway train, headed for disaster. Remember this when the smoke clears — Republicans knew they’d get the blame, yet they went ahead and crashed anyway. This will all be their fault and they’ve admitted as much.