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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Brooks a Mine Canary?

In an earlier post today, J.P. Green noted that one of the Beltway’s most durable curse-on-both-houses “centrist” pundits, WaPo’s Richard Cohen, has gotten volubly fed up with today’s Republican Party. More remarkably, the New York Times‘ David Brooks, who has actually been something of a cheerleader for the GOP throughout his journalistic career, went around the bend today and denounced the negotiating posture of congressional Republicans on the debt limit as reflecting a party that “may no longer be a normal party.”

Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.
The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.
The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it….
If the debt ceiling talks fail, independents voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern.
And they will be right.

This is really something, coming from Brooks, who often soars above the partisan fray like an eagle, but then eventually finds his way back to the tactical positions of the GOP like a homing pigeon. Now he’s basically saying the inmates have taken over the asylum, and predictably, he’s getting pounded by the conservative commentariat for his pains.
Brooks could be the proverbial mine canary in terms of MSM perceptions of who is and who isn’t being “reasonable” in Washington right now. That won’t directly affect the actual struggle for power, but it would be nice for a change to see that the ability of the Right to shift the “center” simply by escalating its demands is not infinite.

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