So the Republicans have dutifully thrown the Tea Party people their bone. Yes, it was absurd and a waste of time, and while the Republicans won’t talk about it openly, they know just as well as everyone else how foolish it looked to pass legislation that was going nowhere.
These are the same people who accused the Democrats in the last Congress of putting their own agenda ahead of that of the American people, which purportedly consisted of jobs, jobs and jobs. This is why they inserted “job killing” into the title of their legislation, as a head fake toward relevance.
They were paying off a political obligation, and one must fulfill one’s promises. Yesterday’s vote, however, doesn’t eliminate the crosscurrent that the establishment GOP finds itself caught in.
The whirlwind that was unleashed at last year’s town hall meetings may have been directed at Democrats, but the Tea Partiers are still angry, they have no party loyalty, and they know when they’ve been played. They are not going to be satisfied with a mere kabuki dance and then quietly go back to their caves until the next election season. They will continue to clamor for the meaningful action they feel is their due.
Meanwhile, the Great American Middle, which is the kewpie doll prize in the 2012 arcade game, won’t have much patience for obstructionist, petulant displays like shutting down the government rather than raising the debt ceiling.
It’s a nasty little dilemma the Republicans have created for themselves. They can behave like adults, work with the other side, look responsible, get things passed, and improve their chances to win the general election.
Or they can act like they can’t be trusted with matches (much less the American government), win their home district primaries, and blow the big one.