House Republicans are the last stand of the Republican outrage machine. PHOTO: Reuters
Susan Collins, Republican Senator of Maine, said publicly that the U.S. should raise the debt ceiling, and, shortly after, released a statement that was generally even or positive on her meeting with Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel. Colin Powell and John Huntsman have both said similar things lately, though neither currently has a vote to support Hagel or raising the debt ceiling. As their voices grow louder and more numerous, the rest of the GOP looks more and more fringe, and for now, impotent to do anything beyond block Obama in the House of Representatives.
This is the credit card used throughout Obama's first term that is finally coming do: when your entire position is to be anti-Obama, you will look really unreasonable every time Obama successfully communicates to the country that he is proposing moderate, center-left policies which, to those of us on the left, are often disappointingly tame.
The debt ceiling rigamarole is the best example of this, because, this time around, it seems enough of the country get that this is a simple case of ransom: either Republicans extract some cuts, or the country defaults. Without getting into why cuts (except to true dead weight, which exists, but not in the form of social security, medicaid or unemployment benefits) are probably a bad idea anyway, this is clearly the sort of partisan brinksmanship that every politician ever campaigns against.
Republicans have successfully kept traditional media in a bind over reporting this sort of thing, making everything a matter of opinion, but when some light gets through to the TV news watching audience, the game element of this becomes all too clear, and so does the fact that Obama has been one of the most politically moderate presidents in recent memory. The left ought to rev up their own outrage machine...scratch that, outrage machines are really annoying, but from a policy standpoint Obama stands right in the middle.