With the president’s partial normalization of relations with Cuba this week, followed by yet another explosion of fury from Republicans (other than the outlier, Rand Paul), it’s becoming obvious the original plans of congressional Republicans to showcase their positive, agenda-setting side once total control of Congress came into their grasp is looking mighty shaky. I talked about this yesterday at the Washington Monthly:
At the end of a post reciting the big moves “our bored, exhausted, disengaged president” has taken since the midterm elections, Kevin Drum makes an important point about what that means for next year:
All of these things are worthwhile in their own right, of course, but there’s a political angle to all of them as well: they seriously mess with Republican heads. GOP leaders had plans for January, but now they may or may not be able to do much about them. Instead, they’re going to have to deal with enraged tea partiers insisting that they spend time trying to repeal Obama’s actions. They can’t, of course, but they have to show that they’re trying. So there’s a good chance that they’ll spend their first few months in semi-chaos, responding to Obama’s provocations instead of working on their own agenda.
Case in point: Congressional Republicans are now going to have to spend significant time and energy in a Cold War battle with Obama over Cuba policy–one that is likely to end in failure, and that appeals only to a sliver of the U.S. population.
After all the interminable stuff we heard in 2014 about the Great Big Adult Republicans getting control over the unruly Tea Folk, I think we’ll find that Boehner and McConnell aren’t going to easily restrain conservatives with so much chum in the water. The provocation to a feeding frenzy is just becoming way too overpowering.
It will be interesting to see if the “Republicans moving to the center” meme survives months of shrieking about immigration, Cuba, and whatever else the president plans to do as the new year begins.