Oh, I don’t know. I’m pretty impressed by the lengths to which they’ll often go to stage a performance of “failure theater.” Bob Corker rewrote the Constitution’s Treaty Clause so that Obama’s Iran deal can take effect if only one-third of the Senate supports it instead of two-thirds. Who could fail to be impressed by hubris like that?
To sum up the year thus far: They caved on executive amnesty by funding DHS, they caved on the Iran deal by passing Corker’s bill, then they caved on executive amnesty again by confirming Loretta Lynch, and now they’re preparing to cave on ObamaCare subsidies if the Supreme Court ends up shooting those down in King v. Burwell. All in the name of showing 2016 voters that the GOP can govern without any new shutdowns or debt-ceiling standoffs.
Which is to say, given a choice between letting Obama implement his agenda and risking a new shutdown, the new majority will take the former every time. Maybe the base’s growing awareness of that explains why the GOP’s congressional leadership, which took power in a massive landslide last November, already has a negative job approval rating among its own rank and file:
It’s not just one issue they’re underwater on either. Dissatisfaction across the board:
For comparison, the split among Democrats who think Democratic leaders in Congress are doing a good job on those three issues is 47/47, 51/43, and 62/30, respectively. You could argue, not implausibly, that those numbers are more a function of greater ideological diversity within the GOP these days than within the Democratic Party. The left and center-left move in lockstep on gay marriage (they want more) and on amnesty (they want more). On the right, of course, centrists disagree with grassroots conservatives on both subjects. There’s no way for McConnell and Boehner to please both wings, so their attempt to duck those issues whenever possible alienates both wings. Ironically, on spending, it’s the right that’s fairly unified and the left that may have greater divisions between progressives and centrist Democrats who are still somewhat in touch with reality about sustainable budgeting. But there too, McConnell and Boehner are taking a beating for not doing more to reverse Obama’s — and their own — profligacy. On matters where GOPers disagree, they can’t deliver; on matter where GOPers do agree, they won’t deliver. It’s amazing their approval rating is as high as 41 percent among Republicans.
But as I said, much of the disaffection has to do with failure theater:
Fully three-quarters of Republicans want the leadership to challenge Obama more often. But McConnell and Boehner, eyeing those more equivocal independent numbers, won’t do that. And why should they? The genius of “failure theater” is that, as the failures pile up, the argument for electing more Republicans perversely grows stronger among the base. You can’t expect McConnell to go to the mat on executive amnesty when he has “only” 54 votes in the Senate, not nearly enough to break a filibuster. Give him 57 or 58 votes, though, and who knows? Maybe he can shake loose a few Democrats and force an Obama veto. And if he ends up caving after the veto because he’d rather allow executive amnesty to take effect than risk a stalemate followed by a shutdown, well, then that’s all the more reason why we should give him 65 or 66 votes in the Senate so that he has a shot at a veto-proof majority. The GOP’s voters will always come home to them, no matter how disappointing they are in office; if anything, the more disappointing they are, the more urgent it is to go to the polls. We are, to borrow a phrase, perpetually one more crushing defeat away from total electoral victory. It’s right around the corner this time. I can feel it.