On June 30, Keith Olbermann had NY Senator Charles Schumer on Current TV’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann to talk about the debt ceiling debate, and the Congressional and — specifically — the Republican politics surrounding it. During that interview, Schumer made an unusually blunt and explosive charge: That Republicans are deliberately trying to ‘tank’ the economy for their own political advantage.
To home-based, Monday morning political quarterbackers like me, that is not a surprising statement. It’s one that many political commentators and bloggers have been making for some time.
It’s explosive because it comes from a sitting senator, who is subject to both the letter and the spirit of Congressional and Senate rules of political decorum.
In a country where the political minority has always to my knowledge been described pro forma as “the loyal opposition”, this is strong talk, implying that a party is putting its own political considerations before the good of the nation. That, by definition, is not ‘loyal opposition’.
You can see the interview here:
This brings back to my mind a December 10, 2010 opinion piece in the Washington Post (which you can read here: Swindle of the year) by Charles Krauthammer, where he rails against the budget and tax deal that the Republicans have cut with Barack Obama. His premise? Not that it’s economically unwise or bad for the country, but that the tax deal might actually be good for the country, and an improving economy will ultimately disadvantage the Republicans in the 2012 elections.
This echoes earlier statements by Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that the GOP’s primary political objective must be “to deny President Obama a second term.” This primary political goal was further reaffirmed by him in remarks at a speech given to The Heritage Foundation on November 4, 2010, as documented in this video.
Charles Krauthammer is not an elected official. Technically he does not speak for the Republican Party, or any other. He is recognized, though, as an ideologue and thinker of the Rightwing, and is a reasonable reflection of current Republican political strategic thinking.
Mitch McConnell, however, is an elected official; a sitting senator from the State of Kentucky, and the elected leader of his party in the U.S. Senate, thus reflecting his party’s values and goals in the most tangible and official way possible. That also makes his remarks officially noteworthy, officially important, and … well … official.
I have always interpreted the phrase “loyal opposition” as meaning that we might disagree on what’s good for our country, but we will always agree that we all want what’s good for the country, as we each see it.
McConnell’s statement (“our top political priority over the next 2 years should be to deny President Obama a second term”) is not one I would expect from ‘loyal opposition’.
The key words here are, “Our top political priority.”
So not defense or economic growth or lower unemployment or energy security. By definition and in so many words, McConnell said that none of these things are “our top political priority.”
It’s not treason, but it certainly doesn’t sound ‘loyal’.
Now, Schumer is saying that this self-serving (dare I say ‘anti-American’?) strategic political goal of the Republicans is so blatant, that Democrats are willing to call them out on it.
This is a serious allegation from a sitting elected official. And it’s about time.