We dumped on The Washington Post yesterday, and now we're doing it again today. If you're reading, Mr. Bezos, you might want to skip this item.
Apropros to the previous item, reader D.C. in Portland, OR, brought to our attention the latest column from one of the Post's resident right wingers, namely Henry Olsen. Some of those resident right wingers, like Hugh Hewitt and Marc Thiessen, are just not worth reading because all they pump out is propaganda. Olsen sometimes comes up with something interesting, but... not this week. Like D.C., we are mystified that he thought he was saying something worthwhile in this piece.
Olsen begins with the observation that Kevin McCarthy has a real mess on his hands with this whole budget thing. OK, fair enough. And the proposed solution is that the Speaker should realize that not all Republicans want the same things, and that he should therefore try to find a middle ground between the various GOP factions that is agreeable to everyone. That is really Olsen's "sage" advice. See for yourself:
Fortunately, there is a better approach, but it requires accepting that the Republican Party, like the Democratic Party, is essentially a collection of ideologically diverse factions that would be different parties elsewhere. Engaging in the fiction that there is only one party encourages the type of regular blowups and breakdowns in governing that continue to make the United States look ungovernable to the rest of the world.
Instead, Republican leaders should broker a comprehensive governing agenda with all party factions, treating each as though they were separate parties. Regarding fiscal matters, this deal could take one of two approaches: The politically easier way would set tolerable spending levels that would likely be higher than the Freedom Caucus wants but also much lower than what Democrats desire. House Republicans would then present this as their best and final offer and dare Democrats and the Senate to fight them. This would tilt toward moderates on substance but toward conservatives in style.
The other approach would involve pushing fiscal limits similar to what the House GOP is trying to pass now, but with the tacit understanding that it wouldn't fly. The agreement would also establish a detailed approach to the subsequent negotiations with the White House and Senate, giving the Freedom Caucus substantial involvement—but not veto power—in discussions.
Olsen is living in fantasy land here. We suspect he wrote this op-ed after riding his unicorn-driven pumpkin carriage to a meeting with the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and perhaps inhaling a bit too much fairy dust.
We presume the two main problems here are obvious, but just in case, we'll lay them out. First, does Olsen really imagine that McCarthy and his various lieutenants have not already tried to find a middle ground satisfactory to all members of the House Republican Conference? The Speaker has never impressed us as a particularly skilled politician, but he's not a rank amateur, either. All he does, for most of his days in Washington, is try to find middle ground acceptable to his entire conference.
As to the second problem, we are reminded of a quote from Q. Not the conspiracy theorist, the near-omnipotent Star Trek character. When the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise encounters a scary new adversary called the Borg for the first time, Q advises: "The Borg are the ultimate user. They're unlike any threat your Federation has ever faced. They're not interested in political conquest, wealth, or power as you know it." The specifics don't quite line up when this observation is applied to the Freedom Caucus, but the general point does: They are playing a different game by different rules than everyone else, and to pretend otherwise is foolhardy. Negotiating with the FCers is pointless, because their philosophy is: "We get everything we want, or we take our ball and go home."
We've been sitting on the Olsen piece for several days now, trying to figure out how he could produce such drivel. We can only come up with two answers. The first possibility is that he has drunk so much of the Kool Aid, he honestly still sees the Freedom Caucusers as reasonable people who can be dealt with rationally. The second is that he doesn't actually believe that, and he's gaslighting the readers of the Post, in hopes that he can get the readers to believe. If readers have some better explanation, we'd be happy to hear it. (Z)