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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

An Interesting Week for the GOP

By most conservative media accounts, this has been a banner week for the Republican Party, snapping it out of the malaise it’s been wallowing in since last November. The week began with Republicans deciding to celebrate the appropriations sequester as a major victory for The Cause. It ended with the conservative movement and the vast majority of Republican elected officials in Washington (not to mention RNC chairman Reince Priebus) deciding to celebrate Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster of CIA nominee John Brennan as a great blow against Obama’s tyranny.
As they enjoy themselves this weekend, it’s worth noting the rather significant side-effects of these two ideological benders. By embracing discretionary spending cuts and brushing aside a “grand bargain” with the president, Republicans also kicked to the curb their one realistic opportunity to secure the “entitlement reforms” they’ve spent most of the last three years demanding as the most crucial step towards fiscal responsibility and limited government. It’s hard to see where they go next in the fiscal battle, unless they want to lurch towards a government shutdown or debt default.
As for their mid-week “Stand With Rand,” Republicans managed to produce three significant results: (a) forcing the White House to renounce any legal theory enabling the president to do something there is zero evidence he wants to do: launch drones at American citizens on American soil; (b) making a complete hash of their own positioning on national security and civil liberties; and (c) making the very favorite politician of the John Birch Society a conservative movement hero and a viable presidential candidate for 2016.
This is a good example of how pursuing short-term tactical maneuvers can lead a political party into a long-term strategic trap. It will be interesting to see how quickly their better minds figure that out.

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