The federal government has been shut down for more than two weeks in a sophomoric Tea Party-fueled rant over defunding Obamacare, a historic piece of legislation that’s already law and is supported by an affirmative Supreme Court decision. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has become the face of governmental immaturity, or worse. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, hasn’t been able to keep his party’s factions together.
Meanwhile, more than 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed. National parks have been closed. Government agencies have closed or slowed down their work. The nation has toyed dangerously with the debt ceiling. And, globally, the world has looked at the United States and thought: this is how Washington irons out its differences over health care and spending?
As if on cue, Boehner said something remarkable Wednesday to a Cincinnati radio station: “We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win.”
That’s it? The Republicans “just didn’t win”?
Sorry, Mr. Speaker, it’s not that simple.
The most radical elements of Boehner’s party have ripped a gaping hole in the GOP’s public image through which the divisions between the party’s realists and extremists are clearly seen. The rocky intra-party relations of the Republican Party have been discussed by Washington insiders for months, but now they’re as obvious as the Tea Party’s distrust of President Obama himself.
We encourage Boehner to listen to the words of a few of his Republican colleagues, who Wednesday were quoted by the New York Times.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina: “This has been a really bad two weeks for the Republican Party.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky: “It’s time for Republicans to unite behind other crucial goals,” he added.
That would be a welcomed change.
At this point, expecting rationality from Cruz would be a lesson in futility. True to his reputation, Cruz told The Times that “unfortunately, the Washington establishment is failing to listen to the American people,” as if leading the nation over the cliff is OK as long as it’s supported by polling. Cruz, in a midday interview with CNN, refused to take any responsibility for his part in the misguided shutdown and instead pointed a finger squarely at Senate Republicans who, in his words, didn’t follow the House’s lead.
Nevertheless, Cruz said, “I think we have seen a remarkable thing happen.”
What a delusional thought.
Washington is bruised by this leadership charade that’s been led by a small faction of GOP extremists in the House. America has suffered because of it. It is a dysfunctional tale for a nation so steeped in history, potential and power.