Littwin: Casting ballots for chaos

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HERE is at least one very good reason to vote for Cory Gardner. That would be, of course, if you’re a fan of chaos, as I certainly am.

If Gardner were to win, the Republicans would almost certainly win control of the Senate. And no longer would there be the well-documented, brain-numbingly predictable dysfunction that has come of Democrats running the Senate and Republicans running the House.

No, with Republicans in charge of both chambers, you could expect dysfunction of a much higher order.

That’s because the old-fashioned interparty fighting would give way to intraparty fighting that would go something like this:

The Ted Cruzes of the Senate would immediately resume their fight with the Senate establishment (meaning that Cory Gardner, who would need to figure out quickly which side to join, would probably be forced to do battle against, well, Cory Gardner). Of course, the Senate establishment is led by Mitch McConnell, who is fighting for his Senate life and who has already promised to vote to repeal Obamacare (but only after conceding there weren’t enough votes to change anything and so …).

[pullquote]Can you see where this headed? Old-fashioned interparty fighting would give way to intraparty fighting. Expect dysfunction of a much higher order.[/pullquote]

It is McConnell’s job to show that Republicans can govern in advance of the 2016 elections. And yet, he has promised fights on Dodd-Frank and fights about the EPA and whatever else is on the Obama agenda. And none of this will be nearly enough for Cruz, who will be plotting with his buddies in the House to make sure the fighting gets bloody. Meanwhile McConnell has also promised to attach anti-Obama riders to spending bills, meaning that if Obama vetoes them, we’d be in government-shutdown territory – and this is from the grownup end of the Republican spectrum.

Because they’re the grownups, the Senate Republicans would inevitably do battle with the House crazies (soon to be joined by Ken Buck), who would simultaneously be in conflict with the House leadership. Speaker John Boehner has been settling matters by sending bills to the Senate that everyone knows will die there. With Republicans in charge, the Senate would actually have to take these things up, meaning they’d be forced to vote on bills they never wanted to vote on, and Obama would happily get to veto them. Fifty-two Obamacare repeals? And that’s just for starters.

Then there’s the Republican presidential primary race, which has already begun but will begin in earnest the day after the election.

An unknown number of senators – but let’s start with some combination of RandPaul/TedCruz/MarcoRubio – will be in the primary fight. Running for president means, at this stage, running to the right (see: Romney, Mitt and 47 percent of self-deportation), meaning the Senate will have a hard time getting to 51 votes on anything that Obama would agree to. And, in any case, what would the House agree to that Obama would sign?

Can you see where this is headed? And it’s worse than that.

Ron Brownstein has a fascinating piece in the National Journal about how the red-blue divide is about to get significantly wider. Of the states that voted for Obama twice, 89 percent of their senators are Democrats. Of the states that voted against Obama twice, it’s over 80 percent now Republican and that will grow after November. In the House, Republicans will own virtually every seat in districts that supported Romney. As Brownstein writes, this means that not only will there be a chasm-like divide, there is little to no incentive for either side to compromise on anything.

Not that there’s much to compromise on. As I may have pointed out before, this is a campaign season about nothing, or at least frightfully little. The main agenda is fear, and you can pick out which side you’re on by what you’re being asked to be afraid of. There’s plenty of discussion of Ebola, but not so much of Syria. You suddenly don’t hear that much about repealing Obamacare. But you don’t hear anything about how to fix Obamacare.

And immigration reform?

This is where it promises to get really nasty. Assuming that Obama does use a series of executive orders to finally move the ball on reform, the I-word will inevitably come into play. Now you can say it would be absurd for Republicans to go there. Didn’t they learn their impeachment lessons with Bill Clinton, who is now wildly popular?

The answer, of course, would be no. Talk radio would talk of nothing else. The Internet would be alive with it. Fox News can’t wait. It’s ratings gold. It wouldn’t matter that, as with Clinton, there is no chance for Obama to be removed from office. This is where matters have been headed since the Tea Party invented itself.

It would be a disaster for Republicans, not to mention the country. And it would prove everything that Democrats have been warning against.

Personally, I doubt it would happen, but there’s every reason to wonder if it could. You don’t have to ask why. Just put it down to chaos theory.


  1. This column represents more than just a simple concession, it’s an unconditional surrender to the reality that Republicans will gain a Senate majority.

    The writing is on the wall in print large enough for even Mr. Littwin to read. The New York Times (yes, that New York Times) gives Republicans a 68 percent chance of gaining a Senate majority while the Washington Post gives Republicans a 95 percent chance. Ninety-five percent!

    You can ignore Mr. Littwin’s dire predictions of a Republican-controlled Senate roiled by “chaos” and consumed by a desire to impeach President Obama. Even Mr. Littwin doesn’t believe that will happen and he’s the one who brought it up.

    You don’t have to be a pollster to realize that for Mr. Littwin’s team this election holds no Nate Silver-lining, as Ron Brownstein reports in the National Journal:

    “For the third consecutive election, congressional Democrats are facing the prospect of a decisive rejection by most white voters, including not only white men but also white women who are either married or lack a college degree” and “National Pew Research Center and ABC/Washington Post polls conducted in October found that college-educated white women, though strongly preferring Democrats on issues relating to women’s health, actually trust Republicans more on both managing the economy and safeguarding the nation’s security.”

    But a word of caution is necessary since less than four months ago the very same Mr. Brownstein also said in a column ironically titled “Why Democrats are so confident.” :

    “While Republicans took the offense on most cultural arguments through the late 20th century, now Democrats from Obama on down are mostly pressing these issues, confident that they represent an expanding majority of public opinion.

    Veteran pollster Stanley B. Greenberg captures this almost unprecedented Democratic assurance when he declares flatly: “Republicans are on the losing side of all of these trends.”

    Whatever confidence gained by Mr. Greenberg’s poll seems to have evaporated completely.

    But it’s more than bitterness driving this column, it’s a a sense of diminished relevance. In Mr. Littwin’s first column for the Colorado Independent he outlined two reasons for his return: (1) ”I couldn’t wait to have a go at the recall frenzy game” and (2) “If Tancredo’s in, I’m in, too.”

    Well, both Mr. Tancredo and the recall frenzy are now history and Mr. Littwin appears headed in the very same direction. Rapidly.

    And should President Obama follow through with a rumored plan to implement immigration reform through executive action his poll numbers will plummet to a level that makes his current barrel-bottom numbers seem like the good old days.

    The only thing worse than a liar is a liar that’s also a hypocrite! – Tennessee Williams

    “(President Obama) told the young graduates their future is bright unless, of course, they want jobs. Then they’re totally screwed.” – Jay Leno

    Wounded Warrior Project
    Veterans Day – November 11, 2014

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