Slackers at the Chalkboard

Shooting spitballs won Republicans the Senate; now what do they do?

With Republicans winning the Senate and Obamacare on the run, a new Era of Good Feeling is surely around the corner. Vote suppression, gerrymandering, and truckloads of secret cash are just another way of saying, "The people have spoken!" Someone please turn this into lyrics for a new Christmas carol.

The best hope for Democrats is Republican overreach. By that I do not mean your right-wing uncle getting gravy on his sweater as he reaches across the table at Thanksgiving. I mean unhinged recklessness driven by hubris and Obama hatred. Profits are up, unemployment and deficits are down -- get that Muslim socialist out of the White House before he ruins us!

Republicans are furious at the president's unrepentant attitude, despite their own intransigence after past losses. Elections must have consequences when Republicans win. Talk of government shutdowns and impeachment is rising. But President Obama has little to lose by picking fights (by which I mean being president, black, and doing anything). If you abuse someone no matter what he does, he might as well stand his ground. That is what our 44th president, at long last, appears to be doing.

Since the election, Obama has made a deft choice for Attorney General; defended net neutrality; and announced a breakthrough climate accord with China. He also threatened to veto Keystone XL and prepared an executive action on immigration. In a sign that there is a God and She has a sense of humor, the selection of Loretta Lynch for AG prompted an attack by based on their confusing her with a different Loretta Lynch who represented the Clintons during Whitewater.

Speaking of false reports, conservative columnist George F. Will wrote that Obama has been "emphatically judged" a failure. We'll see. But if hooting and heckling and appeals to the mob were bills, the present Congress would be the most productive ever.

Republicans blocked jobs bills because they figured voters would punish the incumbent president's party for inaction, which just happened. You don't stop bad behavior by rewarding it. But as a blogger at Addicting Info noted, "Shooting spitballs from the back of the class at the smart kids doesn't require much effort." The slackers are now at the chalkboard.

The Republican strategy still resembles the cartoon elephant pointing a gun to his own head and saying, "Surrender or the idiot gets it!" It's not that the Democratic cloakrooms are packed with Sam Rayburns and Lyndon Johnsons, but Sen. Elizabeth Warren just won a Democratic leadership post. Who in the GOP looks out for ordinary citizens the way she does? In fact, the Republicans want to kill Warren's brainchild, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

A big furor broke out last week in response to a video in which MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, an adviser on Romneycare and Obamacare, said the Affordable Care Act was passed by exploiting "the stupidity of the American voter." The Gruber videos, which expose nothing more than the usual legislative sausage making, are to ACA as the Racing Presidents are to a Washington Nationals ballgame: a sideshow. But speaking of deceptions, how did Democrats get fooled into passing a Heritage Foundation healthcare proposal?

House Speaker John Boehner warned Obama that executive action on immigration would "poison the well." How could anyone poison the well worse than the House Republicans have already done? Across the Hill, Sen. Ted Cruz called net neutrality "Obamacare for the Internet," unaware that, as Sen. Al Franken noted, "We've had net neutrality the entire history of the Internet."

What consequences did the Republicans respect after Barack Obama was twice elected president? Their victory's consequences are already evident. As the European Space Agency landed a spacecraft on a comet last week, American science denier Ted Cruz was poised to become chair of the Subcommittee on Science and Space. We have to fight the Know-Nothings who are hell-bent on wrecking our country. Their scorn for expertise and their blind entitlement will turn us into impoverished bystanders. The staff at the Space Centre in Darmstadt should see America as a source of healthy competition, not of mirth.

This piece originally appeared in the Washington Blade and Bay Windows.