Basic Truths That Should Be in Every Liberal Media Shutdown Story

On the first day of the government shutdown, James Fallows, a long time reporter and once a speechwriter for President Carter, posted a piece on The Atlantic’s website titled, “The Two Basic Facts That Should Be in Every Shutdown Story.” To paraphrase Fallow’s two basic facts; First is that if Speaker Boehner would just call a vote on a clean CR, all 200 Democrats and enough moderate Republicans will have the votes to pass it. This would avoid (or end) the government shutdown. Second, the reason Boehner will not call this vote is because he fears the Tea Party members and losing his job as Speaker. Fallows then ends his piece with;

“The Democratic administration, and a sufficient number of Republicans, already agree and are ready enough to compromise to solve this problem. If the normal machinery of democracy were allowed to work, the manufactured crisis would be over. The only reason the senseless damage is being done is that hostage-takers have terrorized members of their own party.”

“I wish John Boehner were a vainer man. The way he could earn a place in history, admiring chapters in Profiles in Courage-type books, and even a long swing on the university-lecture circuit would be to defy his extremist minority. And maybe eventually he will.”

Yes, I am sure writers like Fallows will be lining up to pen those wonderful profiles just like liberal university speaking invitations will come flowing in to the then former Speaker. Sarcasm aside, I will give Fallows his basic points. Yes, there are enough votes to pass a clean CR, and Boehner will most likely never call that vote because his career would be over. What he gets wrong are the reasons why.

Let’s examine Fallows’ statement, “If the normal machinery of democracy were allowed to work, the manufactured crisis would be over.” I don’t know if he invented this, but it has become the lament of Democrats and the news media. That somehow the Republicans are obstructing the democratic process of government. In making this statement, Fallows, Democrats, and the news media, are leaving out a few basic truths about how our government works, and these truths trump their misrepresented facts.

Speaker Boehner has passed three different bills without Republican majority support. Those passed with only 87, 85, and 49 Republican votes. This already puts him in a weak position with the party base, but where were the Profiles in Courage in the media then? All I heard from the media was how cowardly the Republicans who opposed those things are. Now, as The Fix reports , only 19 Republicans support a clean CR. That is barely 7 percent of the Republican caucus.

When did Democrat Speaker Tip O’Neill call a vote on a bill only 7 percent of his caucus supported when President Reagan was in office? When did Speaker Pelosi call a vote with just 7 percent of her Democrats backing a bill when W.Bush was president? The answer to both questions is never because they would have rightly lost their jobs for calling those votes. Did the media accuse either O’Neill or Pelosi of not allowing “the normal machinery of democracy” to work then? No, they hailed them as heroes for opposing those presidents.Yet Boehner is now supposed to fall on his sword to make liberals happy? I will also remind you there were many shutdowns during the budget fights between O’Neill and President Reagan.

Now let’s expand this examination to include the idea of Tea Party “hostage takers” that Fallows has. There is a reason over 200 members of the Republican caucus oppose passing a clean CR. They are not the hostage takers, they are the hostages. They are hostages to their constituents, the way it was designed to be in the Constitution. Do you believe if these members were getting angry phone calls and emails from constituents overwhelmingly telling them to pass a clean CR they would still oppose it?

These Republicans are doing what their voters are telling them to do, what they elected them to do. These Republicans are no more hostage takers than the Democrats are because they are in the same situation, and that is the way the Founding Fathers wanted it. They all answer to the people in their districts. If Fallows doesn’t agree with the political leanings of the residents of one particular Republican district or another I suggest he write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper and take it up with those folks directly. I am sure they would appreciate his opinion of their opinions.

Those are the reasons why Speaker Boehner will not bring a vote on a bill only 7 percent of the members of the elected majority party in Congress support. This is not a denial of the democratic process, it is an affirmation of it. So, please spare me the “if the normal machinery of democracy were allowed to work” and “hostage takers” nonsense. If the roles were reversed Democrats would be doing the same thing, and the proof is in the past because they have done it many times before. And if the Democrats didn’t oppose something this unpopular with their base, Fallows and company would be howling with anger at them. Those are truths, not facts twisted around to fit some liberal narrative.

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