I started off our chat by asking him how well he thought Congress was doing its job. And that's all I needed to get a full hour of thoughtful analysis. After chuckling sadly, he started to describe the House's current legislative gridlock. The current edition.
Early on, he pushed Paul Krugman's article from the NYTimes and one of its main points:
The sad truth is that the modern G.O.P. is lost in fantasy, unable to participate in actual governing.It's a complicated bind that we're all in generally and that Speaker Boehner is in particularly, but it can all be simplified into this: Because of the "us versus them/if you're not with us you're against us" mentality of the powerful Tea Party caucus of the House, political compromise in that body is impossible.
And because political compromise is impossible, work on any sort of a necessary post-sequestration budget is impossible.
And because any sort work on a post-sequestration budget is impossible, we're going to continue, after October 1, into another phase of the sequester that was not supposed to happen.
According to Doyle, while the Tea Party caucus likes the effects of the sequester (as it limits any growth of the guv'ment without them having do anything for which they can be blamed), those effects will eventually hurt us all. And that's the bind we're all in because of them.
The inability "to participate in actual governing" extends to some of the most basic functions of congressional work. For example, Doyle says, when a bill is passed in both houses a conference committee might need to be formed to settle whatever differences there may be between each version. At present, that's not happening either. Not without preconditions that the Democrats in Congress would never accept. All this for a discussion between the two houses.
All because the GOP as a whole has to placate it's Tea Party base.
Which leads to a deeper issue at hand than the "us vs them" mentality mentioned above. From Krugman:
The sad truth is that the modern G.O.P. is lost in fantasy...As an illustration of that point, Doyle said that the Republicans were convinced Romney was going to win in 2012. Now that it's obvious that he didn't, they're convinced Karl Rove lied to them about their chances.
[Unconnected to my chat with Doyle, but I gotta think that that last point has something to do with Groundswell.]
Part of the fantasy Krugman describes is also found in Doyle's rhetorical question regarding the House Republicans' reluctance to compromise with their colleagues from the Democratic Party:
- How do you compromise with a party run by a Kenyan-born secret-Muslim who's intent on imposing socialism on America?
Last August in a CNN/Opinion Research poll, when asked, "Do you think Barack Obama was definitely born in the United States, probably born in the United States, probably born in another country, or definitely born in another country? 44% of the Republicans got it wrong. 27% said he was "probably born in another country" while 14% said he was "definitely born in another country" and 3% had no opinion.For example.
This is the base that's being placated by the GOP. Until that ends things will get worse before they get better. Until the base rejects the conspiracy theory it's been fed and says, "Enough!" things will get worse before they get better. The House leadership's in a bind because if they don't appease teh crazies, they'll be replaced with a tea partier who will. The non-crazies among the House GOP (and Doyle told me of many who don't like the TP members - they just can't admit it publicly) feel the same way. If they disagree they risk a primary challenge from their right.
And until this changes...well, you get the picture.
As for a grade, Doyle gave the folks running the show in the House a solid F.
Is that a surprise?