I have a question for all of you who say insist that the Democrats have played no causal role in this government shutdown and impending default (there’s no reason why the US must cease paying its debt service if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, by the way).
(Just to be clear: although I agree with the goals they have sought to achieve, I am in this post staking out no position on the wisdom, from a purely tactical perspective, of what the Republicans have done.)
Right, then. Let’s assume, arguendo, that all of the rhetoric we’ve been hearing is spot on: the blackhearted Republicans, in thrall to the stupid and racist Tea Party, are totally insane, and don’t care who gets hurt; they’d rather see the world burn than put down the guns they are holding to the President’s head. They really mean it: they’ll crash the economy, and they’ll keep the government shut down forever, unless they get their way. Let us assume also that, as the Democrats are fond of reminding us, it will be, in human terms, a terrible catastrophe. A great many Americans will see their savings wiped out as the economy tanks again; many will even die for want of government services. All this unless the President and the Senate majority accede to the House’s demands to accept item-by-item funding, or repeal Obamacare waivers, or roll back the medical-device tax, or whatever. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that these Republicans are evil, criminally insane desperadoes, who have hijacked the benevolent American system for their own foul ends.
So, the question is:
You are a loving father, and a criminally insane desperado holds a knife to your child’s neck, threatening to do her grievous, perhaps fatal, harm unless you hand over something you value greatly: perhaps some precious gift you’ve toiled for years to be able to give to your family. (Your home, for example.) The police are nowhere to be seen. Things are at the breaking point: it is plain that if you don’t act now, the worst will happen.
What should you do? What would you do?
You are President Obama, and you love America and its people (we’ll accept that second, slightly hard-to-swallow premise arguendo, just as we did the first). These Republican mad-dogs are holding a gun to the nation’s head, and they are crazy enough to shoot, unless you make some compromise on your cherished legislation. If you don’t give them at least some of what they want, and they pull the trigger, the nation will suffer terribly, perhaps irreversibly. They will of course be reviled for it, but by then it will be too late.
What should you do?