Politics Magazine

Watching Movies While the Country Burns

Posted on the 16 July 2011 by Erictheblue

Here in Minnesota, where Governor Dayton has capitulated to Republicans, accepting their plan to balance the budget without raising any new revenue (by delaying already-delayed payments to public schools and by selling bonds to get money today for money to be received in the future from a tobacco suit settlement), the wingnuts are so crazy that they haven't the sense to declare victory.  Oh, it's a hard deal!  No one likes it!  They have had to give up the dream of passing a budget that restricts access to abortion, shuts down stem cell research, and prevents four felons from voting in one election after another.  Everything related to the budget, they got.

Dayton says that, bad as the deal is, the state government shutdown was worse, and, since Republicans just weren't going to meet him at any middle point, he had to take their offer.  In the realm of theory, it is conceivable that the Republicans would have had to concede that "Governor Dayton just wasn't going to meet us in the middle," and that "we therefore had no choice but to take his offer."  But in the real world, as distinguished from some conceptual one, it helps to be crazy.

Pro-business Republicans are naturally opposed to suing Big Tobacco, but they aren't against using the money from the settlement to run state government, especially if the alternative is a tax hike on people with seven-figure incomes.  

Meanwhile, the national Republicans are showing signs that they are not so crazy as to be blind to their own craziness.  I have in mind Sen. Mitch McConnell's plan to avoid a catastophic default by permitting Obama unilaterally to raise the debt ceiling, then objecting, then permitting Democrats to overcome those objections, then campaigning against Obama and the Democrats for having raised the debt ceiling.  Ingenious! They know what needs to be done.  They just won't do it. 

They're interested in winning elections but not in governing.

It's all sufficiently dreary to cause me to resort to unnatural tactics in the pursuit of relief.  Last night, during negotiations conducted before the menu of Netflix selections eligible for streaming to our TV, I allowed Amanda to think that I'd never seen "The Big Lebowski," and was as a result treated, once again, to the sight of The Dude, interrupted by burgling nihilists while smoking dope in his bathtub, calling out, without changing comfortable position, the following complaint: "Hey, this is a private residence, man."  May he always abide.

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