Look no further than the quotes coming out of the United States Senate to see the split in the Republican Party. The test for what kind of Republican someone is can be answered through a simple question: what lesson did you learn from the government shutdown?
For starters, let’s look at the most powerful Republican in the United States Senate, Mitch McConnell. Asked about the possibility of another shutdown at the next deadline in January, McConnell replied with a comparison to kicking a mule:
“One of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is there’s no education in the second kick of a mule. The first kick of a mule was when we shut the government down in the mid 1990s and the second kick was over the last 16 days. There is no education in the second kick of a mule. There will not be a government shutdown.
“I think we have fully now acquainted our new members with what a losing strategy that is,” McConnell added.
So, McConnell sees that the Republican Party got nothing. A number of his colleagues agree.
John McCain (R-Ariz.) called the government shutdown, “one of the more shameful chapters that I have seen in the years I have spent here in the Senate.”
His colleague Senator Ted Cruz partially agrees…for very different reasons:
“If you think about it, the House Republicans marched into battle. And it should have been the Senate Republicans riding like the cavalry to support them. If the Senate Republicans had stood united with the House Republicans, that's how we would have won this fight. Instead Senate Republicans were divided and became basically an air force dive-boming the House Republicans and conservatives.”
So Ted Cruz thinks that the Republicans in the United States Senate were too compromising. They should have been willing to let the government default. Cruz knows a thing or two about hostage taking: it only works if you are willing to kill the hostage.
Cruz’ Tea Party buddy Mike Lee agreed: “This is not over,” said Lee, promising more driving along the cliff’s edge. Lee added, “it’s always worth it to do the right thing,” even, apparently, if the right thing costs your country $24 billion for no gain.
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson was similarly defiant:
"America and its future generations suffered a loss today. President Obama and Harry Reid may claim a legislative victory, but they have proven, once again, they are more than willing to increase the debt burden on our children and grandchildren.”
And Ron Johnson proves, once again, that he doesn’t know what the debt limit is, that the deficit has been shrinking for years, or how damaging a government default would have been.
Let’s round this out with some meta-commentary from New Hampshire’s junior member of the United States Senate, Kelly Ayotte. Asked about people like Cruz, Lee and Johnson, who want to keep fighting this fight using these same tactics, Ayotte said:
“They have learned nothing from this….We’ve been asking from the beginning ‘what’s the end game? How does this end? How do you achieve what you are purporting to achieve on defunding Obamacare,’ and I never got an answer to that. I don’t think there still is an answer to that,” she said. “So if we learned nothing else from this whole exercise, I hope we’ve learned that we shouldn’t get behind a strategy that cannot succeed.”