On Saturday, we discussed the theory that the Democrats had "won" the fiscal cliff negotiations and that the Republicans had taken the "loss". It now seems that the progressive media is jumping on that bandwagon to the point that they're planning their 2014 campaign strategy around them being the adults in the room. My thought is that they'll have problems burnishing that theory with kiddie-pool pundits like Michael "throw them through a rhetorical plate glass window" Tomasky and Ezra "there's no history prior to my birth" Klein. In other words, this argument can be easily refuted by pointing out simply that there is no North or South Vietnam and that The United States Navy cannot cause Guam to tip over.
The above argument assumes that the Republicans will be able to craft any response at all. Given the early reaction to the compromise, that's not at all certain. The main problem is that the Tea Party is a blunt force blow to the head while politics is a death by 1000 cuts. For some reason Democrats have historically understood this, being content to chip away at Republican bedrock principles while keeping their loudest complainers on the periphery while Republicans have struggled to grasp the concept. While early Tea Party calls are for an increased circular firing squad the proper response should probably be leadership change.
The idea of substituting someone like Paul Ryan for John Boehner is, on it's merits, a good idea. Ryan is a much better communicator, he's someone who's come out with a workable plan, and he's not as "extreme" as the left-wing has made him out to be, for that matter he's not really extreme at all. On the Senate side perhaps it would be a wise time to take a look at Marco Rubio. For one, he doesn't look like a sleep deprived opossum, two, he's right on the issues and three, he's able to communicate those issues in a way that fires up the base. Not that these are the only two choices for leadership, but their ascension would be far preferable to what is currently in place.
The counter-argument to replacing the current leadership is that it's not entirely their fault. This is true. Once it became clear that "legitimate rape" was costing the Republicans the Senate, that Democrats were gaining seats against light-weight Tea Party candidates in the House and Karl Rove was finished having his Ohio moment the die for this bill was cast. If Obama can do anything, he can campaign. He can take an idea that was once unthinkable, tax increases, and sell them to the American people by assuring them that they will be applied only to those in a higher tax bracket than they. That the reality doesn't match the rhetoric is something to be thrown under a bus of rigged statistics and platitudes. It is the Republicans fault that they never made this case.
That's not to say that some Republican talkers aren't trying. George Will, for instance, reminds us that current trends are not sustainable, and not in a limited-thinking, ecomental type of way, while Debra Suanders keeps the focus on the fact that 77% of Americans taxes will go up, and we still face a fiscal cliff in the future. Perhaps the best piece of fiscal cliff opinion I've read to date comes from the Walter Russel Mead who reminds us that temporary problems such as "the cliff" are not the problem instead wishing to focus on the larger problem of policy deficits.
In the meantime, the so-called 'adults in the room' are fixated on whether or not Boehner's "f-bomb" hurled at Sen. Harry Reid has plunged "incivility to a new low". This is, of course, ridiculous on it's face. For one, it's plunged civility (but hardly to a new low if you study congressional history) while raising incivility (again, not to a new high compared to some past events). The fact is today's congress, and punditry is much more civil than it used to be. We've moved from pistol duels and caning to calls for Boehner to be replaced by Seinfeld's soup Nazi. By any measure, this is progress. Amazingly, the progressive adults in the room are throwing very childish tantrums over relatively minor events. Adults in the room? If so, then we had better hide the children because they are doing their damnedest to bankrupt them.