The fight is on.
A growing -- and furious -- fight between the conservative base of the Republican Party and its Establishment elites in Washington is rapidly taking shape.
Senator Ted Cruz took to Sean Hannity’s television show Tuesday night and took on Karl Rove, who had immediately preceded him on the show. In response to Rove’s strategy (Rove compared the defunding strategy to the famous -- and losing -- Pickett’s Charge of the Battle of Gettysburg). Cruz immediately countered by saying that while he wasn’t a military strategist he was pretty sure 100% of battles were lost if one surrendered before the battle began.
The next morning Cruz was at the Heritage Foundation (seen here at Right Scoop) explaining how the defeat of gun control earlier this year can be used as a template to defeat ObamaCare.
As was discussed earlier this week in this space, this has become a battle between what Ronald Reagan once called “rabbits” and “tigers.” Reagan, a tiger himself on these matters, was furious with House Republicans when they abandoned him on a veto of a pork-laden “Clean Water Bill” out of fear of being labeled "anti-environment." Reagan himself was targeted by Democrats over this veto and he never flinched, angry that House Republicans had abandoned principle.
Reagan is gone, but his political heirs -- his tigers -- are very much in evidence in the fight to defund Obamacare.
Reagan’s Tigers are decidedly not over at the media branch of what we might call Rabbit Central -- MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Where yesterday Scarborough launched on Cruz, the headline in Mediaite appearing thusly:
Morning Joe Panel Tears Into ‘Train Wreck’ Ted Cruz: ‘Completely Ignorant,’ ‘This Is The Taliban’
As if that doesn’t give you a picture of where ole Joe Rabbit is in his head, there was his guest Tina Brown, the social queen of liberal media and the editor of the liberal Daily Beast. Brown was waxing enthusiastic about this article at the Beast,which she plugged this way:
“Jon Favreau’s written a great piece in the Daily Beast about this whole trend now about not the small government conservative, but the no government conservative,” said Tina Brown, editor of the Daily Beast. “That is what Tom Cruz is a member of. This is the Taliban.”
Yes, she confused Ted Cruz with Tom Cruise, but beyond that she is the one who brought in the Taliban, as old Joe Rabbit sat quietly by. And the article by Jon Favreau? The article was headed:
Jon Favreau on the Destructive Rise of the No-Government Conservatives
The Republican Party is divided—and the small-government conservatives, who want to reduce government’s size but preserve its institutions, are losing. Jon Favreau on the ruinous ideology that’s ascendant.
And catch this. Favreau writes, bold print for emphasis:
But for no-government conservatives, this has been their primary policy goal all along. Their fundamental philosophy is purely ideological — the idea that since government can’t do everything, it should do nothing. So as long as the public continues to see Washington as a dysfunctional circus of petty children, the conservative philosophy of government is vindicated. That is also precisely why no-government conservatives view the successful implementation of Obamacare as an existential threat — because it would prove that limited government intervention in the market can still be an effective force for good. It is why some Republicans are threatening a shutdown unless Obama agrees to defund the Affordable Care Act — a step they know can’t even be achieved through the annual budget process.
Got it? The federal government takeover of one-sixth of the American economy is “limited government intervention in the market place.”
Who, you might ask, is Jon Favreau?
Why, an ex-speechwriter for….President Obama.
But for ole Joe Rabbit, the real problem is Ted Cruz.
This is precisely the kind of thing that drove Ronald Reagan crazy. He was never afraid to call out these people in his own party. As mentioned Tuesday, he repeatedly called them “fraternal order” Republicans or “pale pastels” or, teeth-grittingly, “rabbits.” As in: when things get tough they run like rabbits.
Ted Cruz and his compatriots in House and Senate are decidedly not rabbits. They have a complete and full understanding that the opportunity to repeal Obamacare once enacted is slim to none. No entitlement program -- no matter how poorly thought out and constructed, no matter how much it is dragging the country down to a financial oblivion -- has ever been repealed. Ever.
They understand fully that governmentally speaking this is a one-time shot at slowing Obamacare and opening the door for eventual repeal.
But the point is not lost on Cruz, Mike Lee, and all the rest that Reagan’s argument about the need to stop Big Government is in fact a wildly popular political argument -- with the conservative base.
Morning Joe’s Establishment media elites are not conservatives -- and it is in fact true that the liberal media will throw everything including the kitchen sink at Cruz and the rest if they succeed in defunding Obamacare, no matter that the entire rest of the government will be fully funded.
There are two points here as the next 62-days ratchet up this fight.
First, as cited by Mark Levin the other night, is Dan Mitchell’s superb analysis of the government shutdown in 1995. Mitchell did his report for the Cato Institute, and among other things said this -- back in February of 2011 in a piece that first appeared in National Review. When it appeared that a government shutdown was coming in March of that year.
With the GOP-led House and the Democratic Senate and White House far apart on a measure to pay the federal government’s bills past March 4, Washington is rumbling toward a repeat of the 1995 government-shutdown fight (actually two shutdown fights, one in mid-November of that year and the other in mid-December).
This makes some Republicans nervous. They think Bill Clinton “won” the blame game that year, and they’re afraid they will get the short end of the stick if there is a 1995-type impasse this year.
A timid approach, though, is a recipe for failure. It means that President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can sit on their hands, make zero concessions, and wait for the GOP to surrender any time a deadline approaches.
In other words, budget hawks in the House have no choice. They have to fight.
But they can take comfort in the fact that this is not a suicide mission. The conventional wisdom about what happened in November of 1995 is very misleading.
Republicans certainly did not suffer at the polls. They lost only nine House seats, a relatively trivial number after a net gain of 54 in 1994. They actually added to their majority in the Senate, picking up two seats in the 1996 cycle.
More important, they succeeded in dramatically reducing the growth of federal spending. They did not get everything they wanted, to be sure, but government spending grew by just 2.9 percent during the first four years of GOP control, helping to turn a $164 billion deficit in 1995 into a $126 billion surplus in 1999. And they enacted a big tax cut in 1997.
In other words, the boogey-man of how much damage the government shutdown of 1995 did to Republicans in 1996 is a myth. And governmentally speaking, it put the government on the road to the balanced budget that Bill Clinton claims as a credit to this day….not long ago using this very accomplishment in his nomination speech for President Obama at the Democrats’ convention last year.
And not to put too fine a point on this?
The liberal media monopoly no longer exists.
Yes, Rush was there in 1995 -- but he was a pretty lonely voice. Talk radio as we know it today did not yet exist. Fox News would not appear for another year. And the Internet was nowhere near what it is today, filled with sites like this that can lend support to Senators Cruz, Lee, Paul, and Rubio as they lead this 62-day charge to defund Obamacare.
And most assuredly -- there was no Tea Party either.
Times have changed.
The reason for all this fury directed at Cruz and his compatriots -- an anger that is only going to increase in volume over the next 62 days -- is precisely because the media and Washington elites realize one of two things can happen.
One: The effort to defund Obamacare could succeed outright.
Or, two -- and perhaps an even scarier scenario of Washington elites -- the GOP will fail to defund but in the process create such a tidal wave of support for the 2014 elections that the results will make 2010 look like a picnic in the park.
Sixty-two days to lead a grassroots charge to defund Obamacare.
The fight is on. It’s Washington versus the conservative grassroots.
The question will quickly become, for Republicans in the Senate and the House, Reagan’s old question:
Are you a rabbit? Or a tiger?
And conservatives are taking names.