Things We Learned From The Debt Ceiling "Negotiations"..
We learned that hanging teabags from your hat, walking around in groups of roughly 100, yelling really loud, and carrying badly misspelled and often racist protest signs gains you instant respect in the Beltway.
We learned that some guy named Grover Norquist, whom nobody has ever elected, somehow currently calls all the shots for one of our 2 major political parties and one of our 2 legislative bodies in Washington.
We learned that Congress, particularly the conservative members thereof, find it an easy routine matter to pass clean unconditional debt ceiling increases when the President looks like this.....
and even this...
.... but suddenly find it impossible to even consider without extracting a pound of flesh when the President looks like this....
Gosh, I wonder why that would be?
We learned that the GOP may have watched "The Town", but the true cinematic inspiration for their behavior during President's Obama's term came from this film:
We learned that many voters and, more troublesome, many Congressmen really don't understand what the debt ceiling really means, nor do they understand the consequences of default. Too many seemed to conflate raising the debt ceiling with increasing spending itself, failing to realize that raising this ceiling only authorized us to pay for obligations we've already incurred, not to incur new ones.
We learned that President Obama has apparently learned many of his negotiating skills from this guy.
|"Me begin negotiation by taking high bid off table."|
We learned that Obama and the Democrats can't frame an issue to save their lives. They've let the Republicans define the issue almost from day one. The very fact that last year the President and Congress formed a deficit commission, rather than a jobs commission, is proof of that. Too often Obama and the Dems echoed the right wing's talking points rather than advancing their own. For example, Obama has echoed the GOP's use of the word "entitlement" when describing the Big 3 programs (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid). Let me tell you something about the word "entitlement". Too often it's used as a dirty word when, in fact, the opposite is often true. Many things are entitlements because we're genuinely entitled to them. These programs are a classic example. We've paid into them for decades on the promise that we'll reap the full benefits of these payments upon our retirements. Paul Ryan's plan would essentially prevent us from reaping this full benefit. It's like buying a car: Say you sign an agreement to pay $10,000 for a fully functional vehicle. Suppose you pay the full $10k, only to have the dealership inform you that the car you're getting won't have a carburetor, an alternator, one of its tires, and two of its doors, and that you'll have to purchase those parts separately from the original contract, with no refund of any part of your original $10k. That's what the GOP has planned for the Big 3. That's how Obama needed to explain it more frequently with his bully pulpit. Of course, even greater use of the bully pulpit and better framing may not have done as much good as you'd think because of our next discovery....
We learned that the so-called mainstream media, with very few exceptions, won't call the Republicans out on anything. If I'd heard the "both sides are just as bad" meme one more time, I would have vomited. It's like reporting a 100-0 football game as a tie. The Republicans created the "crisis" by refusing the clean increase, period, and they could have gotten us out of it at any time by simply agreeing to the routine increase. But good luck getting most of the media to actually report that. Also good luck getting them to stop treating the Tea Party like a separate party, rather than what they actually are, which is "bad cop" to the mainstream GOP's "good cop".
We learned that the Republican Party defines many words differently than the standard Webster's definitions. For example:
Bipartisanship - Democrats and Republicans working together to do everything Republicans want
Deficits - Something to be completely ignored during Republican presidencies and harped on relentlessly during Democratic ones.
We learned that progressives are the modern-day equivalent of Cassandra in Greek mythology, in that A) they can usually predict the future with stunning accuracy and B) nobody fucking listens to them. Gosh, who could have predicted that giving in so much on the tax cuts in 2010 would embolden the GOP to hold future votes hostage? Besides, well, anybody?
We learned that extreme right-wingers have no problems with terrorists in our government, as long as they're not Muslim and are pushing for things they like. And if saying "Give us what we want or we'll crash the world's economy!" isn't terrorism, then I don't know what is.
We learned that the current Republicans pride themselves on being the more businesslike of the two parties, but have forgotten some very basic business fundamentals. Nowhere was this more evident than their obstinate refusal to even consider revenue increases in reducing the deficit. Many of them even signed pledges to the aforementioned Mr Norquist to never do so. Imagine you're a CEO of a large corporation. Now imagine informing your shareholders at a board meeting that you've signed a pledge to never increase the company's revenues? How long do you think it would take before the board voted for your immediate dismissal? Five seconds? Ten?
We learned that the only tax pledge any politician should ever sign is this one.
We learned that one of the biggest problems with our political system is that a major chunk of the voting population has a much easier time naming all the Kardashian siblings than naming their Congressmen or any of the nine Supreme Court Justices.
We learned that liberals sitting out general elections to teach the Democrats they should move to the left is AN EXTREMELY STUPID FUCKING IDEA.
At least I hope we learned that last one.