Obama 1, GOP 0

It's back to business in Washington, D.C., after a partial government shutdown that led to entirely too much real and manufactured drama.

After more than two weeks of sound and fury, congressional Democrats and Republicans passed and President Obama signed legislation that, while not signifying nothing, didn't amount to much.

So what was all this shutdown/debt ceiling hoopla about?

House Republicans sought to use the politics of intransigence to force a defunding of Obamacare. By refusing to pass legislation funding the government and threatening to block an increase in the debt ceiling, they tried — and failed — to win concessions from a president who stated repeatedly that he not only rejected their proposals but would not even discuss them.

In the end, President Obama won an increase in the debt ceiling until Feb. 7 and funding for the government through Jan. 15. He resisted not only major changes in Obamacare, but also smaller efforts to repeal taxes on existing health insurance plans sought by his friends in organized labor and a GOP effort to delay or eliminate an Obamacare tax on medical devices.

The only fig leaf of victory the GOP can claim is a joint House/Senate effort led by Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to reach some sort of accord on a plan to cut federal spending and revise the tax code. Given the fundamental differences between Obama and Republicans on both of those issues, it's hard to see much of substance forthcoming.

There is no doubt that Republicans took it on the chin. That's why Obama is gloating even as he states that there were "no winners" in this face-off. Of course there was a winner — Obama.

The GOP, like all losers looking for an explanation, now is searching for scapegoats, and some of their more zealous members are blaming so-called moderates — actually, they're conservatives — for not standing by the shutdown.

The most conservative are calling the less conservative the "surrender caucus." But the less conservative could call the more conservative the "can't count" caucus, and here's why.

The House may be majority Republican, but the Senate and the White House are controlled by the Democrats. Sweeping victories require more than controlling one-half of one-third of the federal government.

House Republicans didn't have the votes to force the changes they sought. Instead of holding their fire and concentrating on winning more seats in the next election, Republicans launched a suicide charge with all-too-predictable results.

Democrats had the stronger hand. The minority party nonetheless demanded surrender on Obama's signature achievement and then were forced to steadily give up ground until they had none left to stand on.

It's long been apparent that both the Democratic and Republican parties have a suicide wing, although they are not always simultaneously on display. The all-or-nothing types prefer the glory of a noble defeat, as they see it, to anything approaching a compromise victory. They are the kind who still see Pickett's charge as a glorious effort.

Fortunately for the GOP, this fiasco will not be fatal. America's attention span is too short. A month ago, the public and the pundits were pillorying President Obama over his maladroit handling of Syria and its use of poison gas. A month from now, there'll be something else — perhaps the inept rollout and stunning costs of Obamacare — to draw public attention and scorn.

It is, however, imperative that Republicans learn from their mistakes if they wish to be trusted by a majority of the voters. Democrats are praying they don't learn a thing.

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STM wrote on October 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I have to disagree with your assertion that both parties have their "suicide wings."  While it may sooth your predominately Republican readership to think both parties have their whack-jobs, these types are not equally balanced.  While the media (and the News Gazette) has presented the Occupy movement as fringe-hippie-types, that was all they focused on.  Not the normal citizens who spoke up early in the movement.  The Occupiers lacked any real political influence.  

The Tea Party however, now that's a whole different kettle off fish!  They're loud, they're white, they have (had) big-money backers and a whole propaganda network behind them.  At their peak (about 2 weeks ago) they had a sizeable portion of the GOP leaning their way.

The Republican party is the conformist party.  They make a point of attempting to walk in lock-step with one another and speak with a common voice.  Not only has their mantra been "my country right or wrong" but also "my party right or wrong."

The Democratic party has always been more of a coalition of diverse factions.  They are used to discord and conflict within the ranks.

Seems to me the Republicans have a problem.  A sizeable group of them (Tea Partiers) are straying from the pack and the GOP lacks the flexibility to deal with their "suicide wing."  It will be interesting to see how the next two years go in charting the future of the GOP.  

Whatever happens, the News Gazette will be front and center with the false equivalencies between the parties.  

BTW, as to the president "gloating," I think you need to look up the term (from dictionary.com):

"to look at or think about with great or excessive, often smug or malicious, satisfaction: The opposing team gloated over our bad luck."  I have seen no such behavior from our president. Do you have an editor?

yates wrote on October 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I think even the most socialistic democrat will have a change of heart when they get their new Obama Care health care premiums. I have already seen first hand the hardships double premiums and double to triple deductables are going to do to famlies that can't afford them. All this to get a few more illegals and others on the democrat voter rolls.This article should read Obama 1 Nation 0

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 19, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Granny used to say that noses are like opinions, everyone has one.  Yates just showed his without providing any facts, and relying on fear.

I have a "pre-existing condition".  My ex-employer is putting all retirees on Medicare on a Medicare Advantage policy.  Without the Affordable Care Act, I would have been at the mercy of the "appointed" insurance companies due to the "pre-existing condition".   Also, there are working poor families who are denied benefits (health insurance) by their employer.  Based on the subsidies, they can purchase health care.  The real scare masters are the large companies, and corporations that will become involved with employee payment in the future. 

Yates, your only reacting to right wing propaganda.  A few years from now; the right wing will refer to the Affordable Care Act instead of Obama Care. 

Lance Dixon wrote on October 19, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Yates is using scars tactics like a typical bully. I'm well versed in choosing health care plans for my small business. Weighing premiums and deductibles while factoring total out of pocket costs, I've seen great things at the new Marketplace web site. Thank you Obamacare! And yes, Republicans will stop calling it Obamacare after it proves to be incredibly popular and helpful to the majority of Americans benefitting from the law.