Don’t Expect Boehner To Play The Black Knight

The GOP didn’t really have a plan in place in case it lost. It certainly didn’t have a plan for getting snotclobbered. And if you try to spin Tuesday’s results as anything less than a good old-fashioned ass-kicking, you’re deluding yourself.

Black-Knight

Republicans Got Creamed

I know Michelle Malkin found 20 things that went right on election night, but there about 60 million things that went wrong. Let’s take a look:

  • Obama was re-elected handily in a terrible economy with American prestige at its lowest level since Carter’s administration
  • Republicans lost ground in the Senate despite a huge number of open seats and unpopular Democrats (McCaskill)
  • Stupid comments by Senate candidates set back the pro-life movement 20 years
  • In Missouri, Republicans lost every statewide race except Lieutenant Governor
  • Liberal ballot initiatives dominated
  • Conservative turnout was low except for Evangelicals
  • Conservative mega-donors broke the bank on this election and came up less than empty

Boehner Told House Republicans There Will Be No Fiscal Cliff Fight

Considering all this, it comes as no surprise that John Boehner told House Republicans that there will be no death match over the Fiscal Cliff.

Their party lost, badly, Mr. Boehner said, and while Republicans would still control the House and would continue to staunchly oppose tax rate increases as Congress grapples with the impending fiscal battle, they had to avoid the nasty showdowns that marked so much of the last two years. (source: NYTimes)

That’s a bitter pill for Tea Partiers and conservatives, but it’s probably unavoidable.

Mitt Romney and many other Republican candidates for federal offices campaigned without any big ideas for people to champion. They made the election about policy differences, and the status quo won.

You can say that bitter fights over debt and budgets are part of that status quo. You’d be missing the point, which is this:

The only card in Boehner’s hand is shutting down the government. Voters—even some who voted for Romney—would see that as a repudiation of the election and the people, not of Obama. Boehner would look like the Black Knight in Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

There’s a chance, of course, that Obama would cave and hand the Republicans a victory. But there’ a good chance the subsequent unemployment, the stock plunge, the recession, and the starvation horror stories would land squarely on Republican shoulders. (Do you think media would see an Obama capitulation as anything but statesmanlike sacrifice to help the most vulnerable?)

Republicans simply won’t take the chance that 2014 will be a referendum on government shutdowns by a party that just got its ass handed to it on Nate Silver platter.

Game Theory and History Help Explain

Here’s a SlideShare I’ve put together to explain the Republican position. I looked back at Reagan’s 1981 budget battle with Congressional Democrats.

Pay attention to how that battle turned out. (Best viewed full screen)

Bottom Line: The Republicans cannot choose a strategy first. They must force Democrats to make the first move.