In a surprising policy shift, the White House spent last weekend talking up terrorism. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson turned to CNN to warn Americans that terrorists want to blow up their malls. In terms eerily similar to vice president Joe Biden’s Swine Flu counsel, Johnson said, “If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they’ve got to be particularly careful.”
Why this sudden pivot from “nothing to see here, folks” to “the sky is falling?” After all, this is the same administration which just last week thought a progressive jobs program would eliminate “Violent Extremism.” This comes from a president whose views of Islamic Terrorism have evolved to the point where it has become known as the hate that dare not speak its name.
Though one hopes this isn’t a cynical political ploy, this is the Obama administration. Does this bid to foment panic have anything to do with the fact that DHS funding is due to expire next week if Congress can’t reach an agreement? Could they really be so despicable as to terrify an entire nation solely to make Republicans look bad?
They say the definition of insanity is to continually attribute a particular definition of insanity to Albert Einstein when nobody knows for sure who said it first. Another definition of insanity is the Cruz Caucus of the Republican Party. These are people who will play the same procedural card — shutting down all or part of the government — over and over, expecting a different outcome.
Having grown bored with shutting down the entire government, this time the Cruz Caucus decided to just shut down the Department of Homeland Security. Within the realm of brilliance, this qualifies as a supernova. Confronted by a president whose foreign policy can most charitably be described as feckless, whose tap dancing around Islam makes even those not given to fever swamp speculation wonder where his loyalties actually lie, the Cruz Caucus has taken the only action which makes the president look strong on national security.
It is so unfathomable, one wonders exactly who is the Manchurian Candidate here. Is it the president, whom many still insist was born to alien creatures occupying an abandoned nuclear power plant in Springfield, Oregon, or is it [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ], who was born in Canada?
No matter, because any action which gives aid and comfort to this president is unconscionable. Now, you may wish to argue that in fact it isn’t the Cruz Caucus threatening to shut down Homeland Security, but Senate Democrats, who though a minority, have sufficient votes to prevent cloture. If you were to argue thus, you would be correct, as far as the facts are concerned.
But when it comes to who gets blamed for government shutdowns, facts don’t matter. When Bill Clinton vetoed two consecutive GOP budgets, leading to the government shutdown in 1995, who got the blame? Not the president who with the stroke of his pen actually shut down the government, but Newt Gingrich, the Republican Speaker of the House.
In 2013 Senate Democrats refused to vote on continuing resolutions which would fund the government in lieu of an actual budget. Who got blamed for this? The GOP. So too this time around. Shortly after the 2014 wave election, House Republicans agreed to fund the Department of Homeland Security for just three months, reasoning they would have more flexibility after the new Senate was seated. They singled out DHS not because they wanted to let the president pretend he actually gave a damn about American security, but because it houses US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which has the brief to implement the president’s legally questionable new amnesty program.
Of course even a cursory glance at Senate rules would have shown that even after the wave election, Democrats still retained the power of the filibuster. They could block any bill defunding USCIS. If the Cruz Caucus stick to their guns, which they always do, until just after it’s too late, then the DHS will be defunded, and Jeh Johnson can release more terror videos and point to the GOP saying “These people want to see you die!”
Insane, you might suggest. Perhaps, if facts had anything to do with it. But again, when it comes to government shutdowns, facts have nothing to do with it. The dominant media’s narrative is that government shutdowns are always the Republicans’ fault. Someone needs to tell the Cruz Caucus, “You can’t win.”
Oh, sure, the base knows what you’re doing, and why, and they support you on this. The problem is, you already have the base, and it’s not that big. It’s the whole mass of Middle America, who get their news in snippets between episodes of “The Bachelorette,” who know who really shut down the government: the Republicans.
It may not be true, but if the overwhelming majority believes it, it is the truth. It is the truth, and it hurts your cause and you are insane if you keep doing the same thing over and over and expect the Democrats to get the blame.