Home/Daniel Larison/The GOP’s Misinformation Problem in Action (II)

The GOP’s Misinformation Problem in Action (II)

Bill Kristol’s advice to the GOP today is a good example of how Republicans are routinely misinformed by their own pundits:

That’s the Republicans’ situation today. They have a hand they could easily make worse by panicking, and which could be good enough for a win or draw if they keep calm. And their odds could improve if they now take a few days vigorously to make their case to the country: that they have acted to fund the government—while protecting Americans from having to buy insurance they don’t want from exchanges they can’t trust, and while reversing the special deal the Obama administration arranged for Congress so that Congress will have to live by the laws they impose on others.

To state the obvious, Republicans don’t have a “hand” good enough to win or draw. Being calm or panicking is irrelevant here. The question isn’t whether Republicans are going to lose a standoff they should never have attempted, but how quickly they can minimize the damage they are doing to themselves and to the country. Urging the GOP to “stand pat” in the hope of a “victory” that isn’t forthcoming is to encourage Republicans to maximize the harm they do to themselves and to the U.S.. It is mindless dead-ender advice that ought to be ignored, but because it flatters Republican politicians and tells them what they want to hear it will probably be taken seriously.

Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to what the Republicans have already done, a majority is opposed to what they are trying to do (i.e., defund the ACA), and disapproval of Congressional Republicans is equally overwhelming. What case could Republican leaders possibly make that would turn around public opinion when it is against them by a margin of 50-60 points? As it happens, the government hasn’t been funded, and Americans are not “protected” from the provisions of the ACA, so a case asserting that these things have been done will simply make the GOP appear more ridiculous than it is. The longer that the shutdown continues, the worse these numbers are going to get for the GOP. If Republicans “stand pat,” they are likely to be run over.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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