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Sympathy for the GOP Rebels

They’re a bunch of certitude-surfeited Jacobins.

That’s the implication of this New York Times report on hardline House GOPers who precipitated the current government shutdown, er, lapse in appropriations.

Sample quixotic-sounding quote from Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico: “At times, you must act on principle and not ask what cost, what are the chances of success.”

Here these 30-odd Republicans stand. Damn the torpedoes, they can do no other!

You know what, though?

I’ll take the dead-ender Jacobinism over the kind of open cynicism advanced by the likes of Marc Thiessen:

Obama has accused Republicans of hostage taking. Let’s be clear: I’m all for taking hostages. Both sides do it all the time. But one of the first things they teach you in Hostage Taking 101 is that you have to choose a hostage the other side cares about saving. Obama and the Democrats don’t care about stopping a government shutdown. With a shutdown, Republicans are essentially putting a gun to their own heads and threatening to pull the trigger if the Democrats don’t capitulate. Not surprisingly, it’s not working.

Some congressional Republicans can’t seem to get it though their heads: When it comes to a government shutdown they . . . have . . . no . . . leverage. By contrast, when it comes to the debt-limit showdown, they do have leverage; while Obama can let the government close and blame the GOP, he cannot allow the United States to default.

You hear this a lot lately inside the Beltway: “Oh, those crazy Tea Party types. Their heart is in the right place. They justdon’t understand tactics!


But are they any worse than the self-styled savvy operatives who lick their chops at the prospect of effective hostage-taking? Or, if I may employ a torture-era metaphor that Thiessen will appreciate, the prospect of crushing Obama’s testicles? Or threatening to waterboard the global financial system, perhaps?

Yesterday, I framed the choice as between activists and donorists.

Today it’s knuckleheads vs. thugs.

As I say, pick your poison.

about the author

Scott Galupo is a freelance writer living in Arlington, Va. In addition to contributing to The American Conservative, he writes for TheWeek.com and reviews live music for The Washington Post. He was formerly a staff writer for The Washington Times and worked on Capitol Hill. He lives with his wife and two children and writes about politics to support his guitar habit.

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