You may have noticed that almost all recently former Republicans and Very Savvy Pundits continue to operate under the same delusion: that somewhere, buried under all those layers of lies, betrayals of alleged First Principles and treason, there remains a tiny ember of decency, still aglow in hearts of Republicans.
Which is why this is the face they make every time the Republican party predictably plumbs some new depth of perfidy.
And why this is the face we on the Left make when they make that face.
This time around it's about the debt ceiling.
From an exchange between MSNBC contributor, Bulwark founder and 30-year Hate Radio veteran, Charlie Sykes and obscure Conservative fundamentalist National Review crank turned New York Times op-ed columnist David French.
The subject is the debt ceiling.
Sykes: Speaking of these strange sort-of reversals in American politics, I wrote in my newsletter today about the apparent plan of House Republicans to, uh, play a game of fiscal chicken with, uh, raising the debt limit.
driftglass: What do you mean "reverals"? The GOP has played chicken with the debt ceiling since Christ was a corporal.
Sykes: You and I are old enough to remember that this has been around for a long time. Pre-Trump, right? This goes back to 2011 when it was a complete and utter disaster. A complete failure. Even hinting at the possibility of debt default will tank the markets and raise interest rates and yet they keep doing it.
driftglass: Well I'm not as old Mr. Sykes, nor was I ever a star of Hate Radio like Mr. Sykes was, but I do remember that, long before 2011, a bomb-throwing "disruptor" and one of Mr. Sykes' heroes (until five minutes age) named Newt Gingrich, holding the debt ceiling hostage as one of his very first acts of political terrorism when the GOP took power in the House back in 1995.
It was House Resolution 2586, which was amended by the Republican-controlled Senate, was passed on November 09, 1995 and was vetoed by president Bill Clinton. It was a legislative threat by Republicans to blow up the world economy unless Bill Clinton agreed to the massive cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education, the environment and other social program that would have been necessary to meet the Republican's draconian balanced budget requirement that were part of the legislation. H.R. 2586 also would have significantly crippled the government's ability to regulate the private sector, and included a bunch of other horribles that have always been on the GOP's wish list.
From Wikipedia, which is freely available to everyone, including Charlie Sykes:
Since a budget for the new fiscal year was not approved, on October 1 the entire federal government operated on a continuing resolution authorizing interim funding for departments until new budgets were approved. The continuing resolution was set to expire on November 13 at midnight, at which time non-essential government services were required to cease operations in order to prevent expending funds that had not yet been appropriated. Congress passed a continuing resolution for funding and a bill to limit debt, which Clinton vetoed as he denounced them as "backdoor efforts" to cut the budget in a partisan manner.
On November 13, Republican and Democratic leaders, including Vice President Al Gore, Dick Armey, and Bob Dole, met to try to resolve the budget and were unable to reach an agreement.
Long story short, the government shut down, an Gingrich thought the public would flock to his blow-it-all-up revolution.
They did not.
We now return to Messers Sykes and French, already in progress:
Sykes: Frankly, David [French] it strikes me now -- I'm not sure I fully recognized it back in 2011 -- but is there anything less actually Conservative than talking about reneging on debts you are obligated to repay, or flirting with the idea of shutting down the government that you've sworn an oath to run. I mean, there's nothing Conservative it. I mean, it's radical. Burn it all down. It's Tea Party/Jacobin. But there's nothing Conservative about even, y'know, hinting at the possibility of being a deadbeat on the national debt.
French: Well, and it's unconstitutional...
For the record, this kind of "But don't they realize...?!?!" posturing is all over the ranks of the Very Savvy Pundit class like a rash, because they're all, once again, surprised that the lunatic with the gun who always pull the trigger might actually pull this new trigger.
So here, for future reference, I will repeat once again why the Republican party is once again doing this, why no one has any business being surprised by it, and why Liberal predictions of Republican perfidy have always been so depressingly accurate, while America;s Very Savvy Pundits have always been so predictably, egregiously and hilariously wrong.
Because we have never made the mistake of underestimating how deeply Republicans hate this country.
Me in 2005:
And the rank and file of the GOP ain’t gonna hold Dubya to account for any-fucking-thing ever, because they are, by-and-large, kinda stupid. And at a visceral level, most of them really, REALLY hate this country in their own way as fiercely as any Wahabi Muslim. Listening to professional liars like Limbaugh or Hume or Coulter year after year has left them with a kind of Mendacity Melanoma. Riddled with a cancer of lies so bone-deep that they have developed a life-threatening allergy to anything that has the faintest whiff of fresh air and Facts.
Also me, also in 2005:
So it's not exactly Big News that Red State Republicans hate this country and want to see it vivisected and replaced with a Greater Jesusland...
From me in 2009:
Locally and anecdotally, I know maybe one gen-u-ine “Das Capital”-quoting Marxist. He wears a suit, owns property and cheerfully works with both unions and conservative company owners in a spirit of pragmatic equanimity; whatever he reads at night, by day he is in the getting-shit-done business and is very well-respected.
Now consider what an exponentially ever more degenerate and depraved arc the Right has been hurtling down during that same period [30 years, then. 40 years by now]. How many Republicans of the First Water are now anti-science bigots? Bible-thumping idiots? Wreckers? Stooges of the oligarchs?
How many of them are either racists, or are cravenly willing to pander to racists in exchange for power?
How many of them hate this country? Really, really hate the complexity of it? The diversity? The built-in checks and balances? The premeditated secularism and tolerance burned right into our motherboard?
How many of them applauded as Bill Clinton was slandered and destroyed because he was in the wrong Party? How many cheered when Newt Gingrich gave the order for Republicans to grab every microphone in the world and scream “Liberals are Traitors” in unison year after year?
How many of them sent every dime they could scrape together to Christopathic hateporn merchants like James Dobson and Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson?
How many of them creamed their Ronald Reagan Underoos at the thought of the Cheney Torture Administration flossing their ass-cracks with the United States Constitution?
Millions of them, that’s how many.
As this country was put up on blocks and stripped down to the rivets, millions of them applauded. And bellowed. And jizzed themselves blind.
Millions and millions of people who hate this country so much they’ve seceded from it in everything but name. Hate it so much they invented their own Wrathful Swine God who has nothing whatsoever to do with Christ, but everything to do with feeding their own rage and ignorance back to them tarted up in cherry-picked scripture.
Hate the unbearable Liberalism of reality itself so passionately that the billionaires who underwrite their fascism invented a whole new and ludicrously biased media which exists solely to externalize and echo back to the pig people the voices in their heads.
And finally (and appropriately, given the subject) me in 2013:
The Single Virtue of a Government Shutdown: Because every few years our Mainstream Media allows so much gooey, Brooksian, "Both Sides" gunk to build up on our nation's cerebral cortex that becomes necessary to slice through the sheath of Beltway bilge-slinger lies and remind the American people just how deeply Conservatives hate this country.
I picked these examples specifically because they are all pre-Trump.
All back from the Before Time when men like David French and Charlie Sykes and hundreds more like them were making a fine, fat living calling people like us who wrote such things crackpot alarmists.
And so it goes.