I pick on Salon quite a bit but I've always said that there are some really terrific people on-staff there, you just have to wade through a lot of nonsense to get to them. To wit, Brian Buetler seems to have taken over much of the political heavy lifting from the always reliable Steve Kornacki lately, and his coverage of both the government shutdown and the impending debt-ceiling cataclysm has been excellent.
I realize that it's been pointed out before, but I want you to remember this quote from a piece of his today on the latest developments in the hostage standoff with the Republican lunatics in Congress. Write it down somewhere and keep it for use in any argument over this nightmare you might happen to get into with your right-of-center friends, because it spells out perfectly and succinctly why the Democrats can't give in to the demands of the Tea Party GOP on any of this -- and it's not just because it's unwise to give an extortionist what he wants.
The White House’s bottom line is simple, and has been remarkably consistent: no substantive concessions to Republicans in exchange for completing basic, non-optional requirements of the legislature: funding the government, authorizing the borrowing required to finance the deficits they’ve created. It’s crucial to Obama that he establish the precedent that Congress can’t extort from him and future presidents on the threat of default policy changes that they’re unable to achieve through normal electoral and legislative channels.
That's what it's all about: the minority party failed to get its way on the Affordable Care Act, despite using and even abusing every single electoral, legislative, and legal channel available to it, but it absolutely will not let it go. It lost a presidential election, the centerpiece of which was a promise to repeal the ACA; it held dozens of congressional votes to repeal and came up empty every time; it lost a Supreme Court fight. Still, this party won't take "no" for an answer. It will now hold the global economy for ransom and blithely attempt to cast it as nothing more than political business-as-usual -- as if, despite losing in its quixotic obsession over and over again, it still has bargaining power, is on equal footing with those who won the fight, and deserves to be negotiated with to its satisfaction. There's no real precedent for this in American politics and there never has been. No political party has ever been this arrogant and foolhardy in our republic's 237-year history.
What's more, as Cesca pointed out this morning, there are those within the Republican party who are now trying to downplay the potential impact of a debt-ceiling default, saying that it'll be no big deal or that it'll actually be good for the global economy. Now's a great time to remember that these are the same men and women who routinely deny scientific fact and who argue with the consensus of nearly every expert on the planet when it comes to long-decided issues like evolution and serious crises like climate change. The absolute last people you want to be taking economic advice from right now are these idiots. But I'm not sure which is worse, those who genuinely believe that burning down our financial house would be an awesome idea or those who admit that a default would be disastrous and who pursue this course of action anyway. If you think all of us and the rest of the world would benefit from America entering a crushing depression, then you're shockingly stupid; if you know how horrifying the consequences of a default would be and continue to risk one, you're either insanely reckless or possess a fanatical devotion to your cause. On that note, what do we usually call someone willing to blow himself up to achieve his political goal? Do I need to help you out? And historically how damn-near impossible has it been to defend against people willing to die for their beliefs?
This is where we are now. This is what we're dealing with. It's why the president is taking a hard-line and why any president would.