The Left embarrassed itself yesterday, and clearly talked too much, with its overheated rhetoric on the debt ceiling deal.
What the Left got on the debt ceiling
The Left should be basking in victory today. The Budget Control Act of 2011 gives them everything they could want. The debt ceiling rises, and Congress need not re-visit it until after the election. Congress now holds the military up for ransom: raise taxes on “big corporations” (who owns them? Blank-out), or the military gets no new weapons. Then, Pilate-like, it washes its hands of that disgraceful affair. It hires a twelve-member goon squad to do its dirty work. Presto! Tax hikes! Even though House Speaker John Boehner said they wouldn’t happen. The debt ceiling goes up with almost no strings, for the “cuts” aren’t really “cuts” at all. (Judge Andrew Napolitano says that this commission, or committee, or Super-Congress, or whatever they want to call it, is unconstitutional. But who cares about the Constitution these days?)
What’s not to like? It might look horrible to them. Certainly the man now holding office as President, Barack H. Obama, looked very weak. The “do as I say because I say it” thing didn’t work this time. Obama demanded a “clean” debt ceiling rise, and the House refused. So Obama invented a new kind of subterfuge. Like a judo fighter, he used his opponents’ greater weight and momentum against them. And it worked. As New Jersey activist Nick Purpura said yesterday, in an interview with your editor, it worked perfectly. The economy will never improve, and might turn sour. Raising the debt ceiling raises the debt. Congress will bump against the debt ceiling again. Everyone knows that. And Obama will have Republicans to blame for it, all over again. (Franklin Sanders at GoldPrice.com points out that until the government stops providing half the country’s income, nothing will change.)
The Left should have kept its collective mouth shut, or at least shut its mouth when time came to vote. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who infamously compared Boehner to Anakin Skywalker in George Lucas’ Star Wars franchise, knew when to shut-up. “Vote your conscience,” she said. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) said much the same. And Congress did one smart thing: the House passed the measure first; the Senate will today, barring a miracle. That will satisfy Article I, Section 7.
And then the Left had to blow the gaffe.
How the Left blew it
The Left had to sound a chorus of complaint at some level. Hence Paul Krugman’s complaint about “surrender” and “extortion,” though at least some leftists admit that Obama couldn’t have done anything else if he wanted the debt ceiling to rise. But the banshee wails didn’t stop. Result: Jay Carney, White House press secretary, let the banshee wails rattle him. And he gave up the game.
Q House Republicans seem to be arguing that this super committee is going to have a difficult time doing any tax reform because it’s going to be supported by the CBO, and the Bush tax cuts are set to expire in January of 2013. Could you comment on that?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I’ve seen that and I would simply say that the suggestion that it is impossible for the joint committee to raise tax revenue is simply not accurate; it’s false. If the joint committee decides, for example, that part of a balanced deal should be to eliminate tax subsidies for oil and gas companies or corporate jets, or if they decide to limit the value of itemized deductions for high-income earners as the President has called for, they can do that and they would raise revenue through doing that.
Second, nothing in the legislation that’s being considered by Congress specifies at all that the committee operate under any specific baseline. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.
Tea Party activists everywhere knew that anyway. But Jay Carney wasn’t supposed to say that out loud!
But that wasn’t all. Leftist commentators everywhere compared the Tea Party to terrorists. Tom Friedman of The New York Times compared the Tea Party to Lebanon’s Hezbollah. That was too much, even for this slightly-left-of-center Jewish journalist. (As a Jew, he knows what Hezbollah are all about.) And it didn’t stop there. Bob Beckel, on The Five (Fox News Channel), talked about “Tea Terrorists” all evening. And the Vice-President of the United States actually said that the Tea Party “acted like terrorists.” (Don’t believe that source? See here.)
People who say things like that have no idea what a real Tea Party “terrorist” might do. Ayn Rand did. Such a “terrorist” would not threaten; he would act. He would not merely talk; he would fight. (But he might sign his name big enough so that even the most stereotypical university professor could read it without his eyeglasses.) He might provoke headlines like these:
The cargo of gold sent by the International Monetary Fund did not reach the People’s State of Greece. It was seized by…
But no one ever wrote such a headline. First, the IMF does not send gold to bail a country out. It merely writes a line in a ledger, to mark an event that pretends to transfer value, but does nothing. And second, the sort of privateer who would seize such a cargo, if the IMF shipped it, does not operate in the Mediterranean Sea, or anywhere on the high seas.
But suppose that a character like Ragnar Danneskjøld did exist—and took better care of himself than some of his imitators have done. Then people like Joe Biden and Thomas Friedman would have someone to be afraid of! Not for their lives—Ragnar Danneskjøld never killed anyone—but because people might rally to him. (Imagine little boys dreaming of running away to sea! He could have crews enough for a fleet bigger than that of Jean Lafitte.)
But no such person does exist. So those people don’t know what they’re talking about.
Charles Krauthammer told the Tea Party to “declare victory and go home” as the debt ceiling deal came to its vote yesterday. Someone might want to tell the Left rank-and-file to do the same. They got what they wanted on the debt ceiling. But because they can’t keep their mouths shut, they throw away their victories, which depend on secrecy above all else.
Featured image: the classic Weimar-era illustration of wheeling a barrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread.
- Trojan horse
- Cloture failure
- Deadlock and deceit
- Debate and delay
- Bait and switch
- Sophistry and rebuttal
- Wheeling and dealing
- Postures and pretense
- Breakdown and bluster
- Scares and spending
- Sound and fury
- Gang of six
- Cut cap balance vote set
- Questions for Mr. Obama
- Warnings and postures
- Misconception and mush
- Cowardice and confusion
- Theater and outrage
- Deal falling through
- Day of reckoning
- Talks break down
- The media battle
- Battle lines
- Debt ceiling reached; sky does not fall
- Contradictory warnings
- Weimar redux?
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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