Dec 5, 2013
Garry Wills Calls Out Moderate Republicans as Cowards
Posted on Oct 9, 2013
As Congress keeps kneeing the nation closer to the edge of a financial precipice, one can be forgiven for confusion over the nature of Republicans, the folks who used to make a great show of fiscal responsibility, concern for small business and a sound dollar. These days, that sounds more like the Democrats.
We’ve posted recently about the machinations that led to this juncture—the gerrymandering that has sent the ludicrous extreme of the GOP to Washington—and the new rise of the old South, as Bill Moyers pointed out (and there’s an unrelated study to back that up). But it stretches belief to think that the entire Republican Party has suddenly turned into Michele Bachmann clones. In fact, The Atlantic has called out the 32 tea partyers it sees as behind this manufactured—but very real—political crisis.
But what of the rest of the party? Why has it let the fringe seize the driver’s wheel?
Historian Garry Wills, writing in The New York Review of Books, has the answer: cowardice. In a piece headlined “Back Door Secession,” Wills draws parallels between today and the lead up to the Civil War, when slave holding states ignored federal laws as they saw fit, and violated the US. mails by requiring anyone in the South who received an abolitionist tract in the mail to claim it publicly, which opened them to vilification and occasionally violence. It was a mob mentality applied to the political stage, and to stray—for instance, saying maybe it’s not such a good idea to hold the economy hostage—draws excoriation:
The Republicans created this mess. It’s up to them to fix it. Interestingly, House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday said that President Obama was insisting on “unconditional surrender by Republicans [before] he’ll sit down and talk to us. That’s not the way our government works.”
No. But it is the way hostage negotiations work. And poll after poll show that the vast majority of the American public lays this crisis at the feet of the Republicans. All of them, not just the tea party extremists. Maybe Boehner should look less to fronting for the extortionists and more toward cleaning up his own House.
—Posted by Scott Martelle.
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