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Giving up brinkmanship

September 29, 2013 - Harry Eagar
I am feeling quite chirpy about my chances of buying some artificially depressed stocks later this month.

The New York Times reports:

"WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders said on Sunday that they still believed a government shutdown beginning on Tuesday could be averted if Democrats would accept at least some of their demands to scale back President Obama’s health care law.

“ 'I think the House will get back together, in enough time, send another provision not to shut the government down but to fund it, and it will have a few other options in there for the Senate to look at,' Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican whip, said on 'Fox News Sunday.' ”

Right, because the Democrats would never, ever suspect that if they give away part of the health care law Monday, the Republicans will come back for the rest of it two weeks from now in the debt ceiling vote. No, that would never happen, because the Republicans are honest and sensible.

A former newspaper colleague expressed it more emotionally in a Facebook post (I have toned down his language a little):

"The House GOP leadership reminds me of my biological father, a similar kind of bullying terrorist freak show who preyed on the most vulnerable. When my sisters and I were very small, he had a favorite method of winning heated arguments he was losing with my mom in our packed family vehicle as it hurtled down the San Bernardino Freeway near LA circa 1962. 'If you say one more word, I'm driving this damn car right off the side of this damn freeway!' he would roar, and we kids had no doubt he was dead serious. 'Mom, be quiet!!!' we would wail, gripped by a fear that only kids with a lunatic for a parent can relate to and share. Or the vulnerable in a nation led by Republican suicide bombers who hate poor people and seem intent on morally and spiritually bankrupt economic jihad and the politics of fear. Too bad my father is dead, he'd take these cowardly creeps out for a Sunday drive down memory lane until they too wet their pants. Posers. Go ahead, make our day . . ."

It was a crazy Republican, John Dulles, who invented (or if he did not invent, personified) the term brinkmanship, but he wasn't crazy enough to actually take his country over the brink (or, at least, he never could carry the rest of the government along with him). The 21st-century Republicans have gotten beyond Dulles's timidity.

Or perhaps we should call not on politics but the movies for a working metaphor (see image).


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