In the end, all the huffing and puffing, all the bravado and chest thumping, all the threats and extortion demands amounted to nothing. The Republican-led shutdown is finally over and what do they have to show for it? A big fat goose egg, that’s what. Worse, they lost ground. The very thing they had hoped to eliminate – Obamacare – not only ended up surviving intact, it’s actually more popular than it was before this whole nonsense got started. How’s that for irony?

This wasn’t about politics or about the art of negotiating or about government spending or about the deficit or any other bullshit the GOP spin doctors will attempt to make it about in the weeks ahead. This was about a group of terrorists who commandeered the House Republican caucus and held a gun to the heads of about 300 million Americans.  Period!  A group that couldn’t accept the results of two elections and a Supreme Court decision and, in the end, made themselves and their colleagues – especially their beleaguered leader – look like buffoons to the entire world.

Comparing this movement to a cancer in the body politic doesn’t begin to adequately describe it. Cancers can at least be removed surgically. Thanks to gerrymandering, this malignancy is for all intents and purposes inoperable. Even with all the damage they caused in the last couple of weeks and the near catastrophe they damn near brought about, Republicans will still likely hold onto the House next year. And that means this sick and twisted group of sociopaths isn’t remotely done with inflicting their brand of terror on the country.

Forget next January and February. Try imagining this circus occurring every three to six months for the next three years; longer if Democrats don’t take back the House in 2016. The two characteristics all insane people possess are a relentlessness that knows no bounds and a complete inability to be reasoned with. Those two characteristics define the Tea Party to a, you’ll pardon the pun, tee.

And Ted Cruz, the self-appointed emperor of this movement and master architect of this siege, who deliberately and maliciously sprinkled itching powder all over the House of Representatives and then split like a bat out of hell, stood on his soapbox in front of reporters, unabashedly and defiantly proclaiming victory while his party was imploding. He didn’t even have the decency not to upstage his own leader who was at that very moment addressing the Senate. But who cares about little things like class when you’re locked in your own private echo chamber. Self-justified and self-absorbed, he has become a rock star to the bubble people. Right up there with Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint, Mark Levin and all the other Orcs in Mordor.

But the real villain here isn’t Cruz and his cronies; it’s the Republican Party as a whole. It’s one thing for a delinquent child to act up; it’s quite another when the parents enable him. I don’t want to hear anything about how Mitch McConnell came through at the 11th hour and forged a deal with Harry Reid to save the day. Where was McConnell weeks earlier when Cruz was staging his fake filibuster on the floor of the Senate?

And for that matter what kind of Speaker of the House permits a junior senator from the upper chamber to ostensibly usurp his authority over his own caucus? All we kept hearing from pundits over the last few weeks was that John Boehner was no ideologue, that he didn’t want any part of this stupidity. You coulda fooled me. Boehner’s inability to lead this fractious caucus was the primary reason the nation almost hit its debt ceiling.

Indeed the entire leadership of the Republican Party was AWOL throughout this ordeal and must bear the brunt of the responsibility for the damage it allowed to happen. According to S&P, the U.S. economy lost roughly $24 billion during the shutdown. That is inexcusable.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the underwriters of this freak show: the rich and shameless who built the Frankenstein monster, turned it loose on the village and then sat back and watched it almost burn to the ground. If ever there was an argument for campaign-finance reform you saw it clearly over the last few weeks. The love child of the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Freedom Works, Club for Growth and the Heritage Foundation ran roughshod and unchecked over the Congress. They are as complicit as the spineless leaders of the GOP.

Even now, they are plotting their revenge in the form of primary challenges to any and all so-called RINOs who caved on their “principles” and abandoned the cause. Not only haven’t they learned anything from this near-death experience, they are ramping up for another skirmish. They already have January 15th marked on their calendar. To a man and woman they were willing to shoot the hostage this time around just to prove a point. Next time, you can bet the ranch they’ll pull the trigger.

That’s why I know this isn’t over, not by a long shot. Forget the polls; these people don’t read them anyway. Forget facts; they could care less.  You can’t reason with people who are mad enough to crash a world economy over a bankrupt ideology.


Author: Peter Fegan

Progressive but pragmatic. Lover of music, die-hard Giants' fan and reluctant Mets' fan. My favorite motto? I'd rather be ruled by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.

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