This is what actually happened: In this morning’s column, Paul Krugman says our current situation is “crazy.” It’s hard to deny that it is.
Consider what’s happening as we look ahead to a shutdown, then perhaps to a debt limit debacle. As he closes his column, Krugman outlines the situation—a situation that’s even crazier than he explains in this passage:
KRUGMAN (9/30/13): So how does this end? The votes to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling are there, and always have been: every Democrat in the House would vote for the necessary measures, and so would enough Republicans. The problem is that G.O.P. leaders, fearing the wrath of the radicals, haven’t been willing to allow such votes. What would change their minds?As described, the situation is crazy. The votes are there in the House—but the Republican majority won’t allow a vote!
Ironically, considering who got us into our economic mess, the most plausible answer is that Wall Street will come to the rescue—that the big money will tell Republican leaders that they have to put an end to the nonsense.
But what if even the plutocrats lack the power to rein in the radicals? In that case, Mr. Obama will either let default happen or find some way of defying the blackmailers, trading a financial crisis for a constitutional crisis.
This all sounds crazy, because it is. But the craziness, ultimately, resides not in the situation but in the minds of our politicians and the people who vote for them. Default is not in our stars, but in ourselves.
In truth, the situation is even crazier than that. There is a substantial Republican majority in the House—but those Republican members received fewer votes than Democrats did in the 2012 congressional elections.
The world’s leading authority on this matter breaks it down like this:
WIKIPEDIA: House Democrats won a plurality nation-wide by over 1.4 million more votes (1.4%), but the Republicans were able to retain a...majority due in part to their advantage in the congressional redistricting process following the 2010 United States Census, and because many Democratic votes were concentrated into urban and minority districts. Both parties had opportunities to redraw congressional districts in their favor, but since the Republican Party won an overwhelming amount of state legislature seats around the country in the 2010 midterm elections, it provided them with an overall advantage.The GOP has a 234-201 advantage in the House, despite the fact that its candidates received fewer votes than the Dems.
Keeping that fact in mind, how crazy is our current situation? In the House, the party which received fewer votes enjoys a substantial majority. According to Krugman, there are enough votes in the House to fund the government anyway, but that majority party—the one which got fewer votes—won’t allow a vote!
Whatever! The craziness of the current time has been decades in the making. The rise of crackpot “conservative” media has largely fueled The Current Crazy. But have we liberals contributed to The Big Crazy too?
We would say that we have, and that we continue to do so, in several major ways. For today, let’s consider the growing haplessness of Salon.
In the 1990s, Salon was a very smart on-line magazine. In recent years, it has been substantially dumbed down. (It has also had its focus changed, though that’s a different matter.)
We were reminded of this downgrade when we read Salon’s reaction to Ted Cruz’s appearance on yesterday’s Meet the Press. We hadn’t watched the program yet, and so we thrilled to Salon’s claims about what had happened there.
“Ted Cruz schooled on Meet the Press,” Salon’s top headline declared. We also thrilled to this sub-headline: “Host David Gregory didn't hold back, pressing the rogue GOPer on his efforts to defund Obamacare.”
Later, we watched Meet the Press. And we’re sorry, but Ted Cruz didn’t get schooled. And David Gregory did hold a great deal back.
Salon’s cluelessness notwithstanding, Gregory did a terrible job in this lengthy interview. Most pointlessly, he argued the merits of Obamacare with Cruz, rather than the absurdity of Cruz’s procedural tack.
What’s wrong with the GOP approach to the impending shutdown? In tedious eighth grade civics textbooks, you’ll find it in the chapter called, “How a bill becomes law.”
How does a bill become a law? First, it has to pass both houses of Congress. After that, the president has to sign it!
The GOP could take that approach to the repeal of Obamacare. Unfortunately, they lost the Senate and the White House in the last election—again.
Unable to pass the bills they prefer due to their electoral defeats, they have to proceed in the current manner—threatening major disasters to get their objectives met.
As every eighth grader knows, that isn’t the way a bill becomes law. This current mess isn’t a question of the merits of Obamacare. It’s a question of the basic way the American system works.
Gregory skipped past this rather obvious framework. Instead, he got all tangled up in discussions about the merits of Obamacare.
There will never be any way to resolve such disputes. The basic question here is much simpler: If Cruz wants to repeal or defund the health care law, why doesn’t he do so in the normal American way? In the way that gets explained to eighth graders every year?
Gregory was terrible yesterday. Somehow, though, Salon thought it saw Cruz getting schooled by a street-fighting NBC warrior. This cluelessness is part of the liberal world’s contribution to our craziness problem.
For the record, who wrote that piece at Salon? Natasha Lennard, who is described this way in her official ID line:
“Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing.”
Rabble-rousing! That’s good solid fun! It’s fun when we all clown around!
At Salon, the children are playing around, having their endless oodles of fun. Back out in the world where alleged adults reign, we’re all losing altitude fast.
Tomorrow: Reactions to Kristof's remarks