Thursday, September 12, 2013

Holding Patterns

It's been difficult lately, covering the rapidly changing events of the Syrian debate that have dominated nearly every space available for news, while equally important news stories like the upcoming budget battles in Washington or the 'One Percent recovery' have been given short shrift or been buried completely.

Thankfully it appears that cooler heads have prevailed for now. President Obama has sent Secretary Kerry to Geneva, Switzerland today to meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to nail down the details of the international group that will remove Syria's chemical weapons. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling for caution and patience, on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times.

Whether anti-war liberals and isolationist conservatives want to admit it or not, the biggest reason the international debate over Syria is now in a holding pattern is because President Obama's threat to use American military force is still very real.

That threat appears to have given both Syria and Russia a pause for sanity - which means we can finally give one of those other important stories at least a little time today. We wouldn't exactly recommend relaxing, though, since it now looks like at least some Congressional Republicans may actually be willing to shut down the government at the end of this month.

In case you missed it, the House Republican leadership pulled their warped spending plan of a Continuing Resolution - a "CR", in Congress-speak - on Wednesday, in large part because of the GOP's own ongoing internal civil war. Without passing a CR by the end of this month, the Federal government will shut down on October 1st. As recent polling has confirmed, if the government shuts down, Americans will overwhelmingly blame Republicans in Congress, as they should.

The key problem, as Jonathan Bernstein noted Wednesday afternoon, is that the extremist tea partiers on the right continue to insist that conditions be tied to the CR that neither Democrats or more centrist Republicans will ever vote for.

As we've warned many times over the last few years, and as Greg Sargent stated perfectly again on Wednesday afternoon, the GOP's internal civil war is eventually going to come to a head - and John Boehner may indeed lose his head, politically, before this round of Republican infighting is done.

Greg goes into significant detail about how the latest budget battles will play out, and we highly recommend you read his column in total to completely understand how paralyzed Republicans in Congress now are. In short, to any sane person, Speaker Boehner's choice of what to do next couldn't be more clear if he had a Tomahawk missile literally pointed at his head.

Either Boehner's going to have to side with mainstream Republicans and a large number of Democrats in the House on any one of a number of high profile bills - or he's going to end up shutting down the government, which will effectively destroy the GOP in the 2014 election, and will certainly destroy him.

The clock is ticking Mr. Speaker. We suggest you take action now. You've been holding up progress for far too long already.