40 Angry Men Against Democracy

The coming government shutdown isn’t about Obamacare, it’s about Obama.

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The House Republicans are like really bad boyfriends in a break-up. The moment is upon us, when the Capitol lantern will be dimmed and dark, with the U.S. government closing down for ... who knows how long?

This is what they came here to do, the Class of 2010 House Republicans, which created a new majority overnight. They did not come here to govern or to be part of government. Stone cold crazy, they came to our town of Washington to take it down from within. They came from states like, say, Tennessee. Ever hear of Frog Jump? The tea party has such diversity! They are largely angry white men. They are not legislators or policymakers. They are not respecters of the usual traditions of Congress. They are not much but a band of marauders, an unhappy few. 

It doesn't take many unruly House Republicans to stamp out the spirit of a perfectly nice democracy. Roughly 40 will accomplish what the British did not when they burned down the Capitol in 1814, and what the terrorist hijackers failed to do on 9/11 a dozen years ago. 

[See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

If I read the tea leaves right, they are going to make a demoralized country even more so. People will start to lose more faith in our national institutions and with the very idea of America: fairness and "playing by the rules," as Bill Clinton used to say. Our highly skilled and dedicated federal workforce, which has had its pay nearly frozen for years, will feel more disrespected if they are furloughed. The world will be watching in utter disbelief.

And then what happens one minute after midnight Tuesday morning? The light goes out in the dome. The more sensible Senate will not be party to this crime. House Speaker John Boehner will flail about, helpless and humiliated because he can't control this lawless faction. 

Then the babble will start about Obamacare. That's what they would like us to think this is all about. My fellow Americans, this is not about Obamacare; it's about President Obama. It's about taking down his presidency. Attacking Obamacare is just the means to that end. I don't think Obama sized up their intent and plan to take him down, from the day they arrived in January 2011. Unfortunately, he did not recognize the depth of their hostility when the government debt ceiling hung in the balance in August 2011. He kept trying to be friends with Boehner and the other side. 

[See a collection of political cartoons on Obamacare.]

We have another debt limit deadline hanging over us, which makes this showdown look like a prologue to an even more disastrous event. 

Here's the cruelest cut of all. Never has a landmark piece of legislation, passed by both houses in the usual manner, been subject to this kind of relentless attack well after its passage. Sen. Ted Cruz, a leader of the tea party band, tells anyone who will listen at 4 a.m. that the American people are on their side. That is erroneous, and besides which, it wouldn't make the tea party plot right. Obamacare passed before many of them got here, back in 2010.

It wasn't pretty, but Obamacare passed fair and square. President Obama was re-elected handily. So let's keep the lantern lit. Don't let 40 angry men undo the results of American democracy.

  • Read Robert Schlesinger: Cruz, DeMint and the GOP Can’t Get Their Obamacare Attacks Straight
  • Read Susan Milligan: Congress Thinks Elections Don't Matter if They Don't Like the Outcome
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