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Davidson writes: "Congress has closed for a five-week vacation, leaving the rest of us to figure out what happened in the several days of yelling about bills that no one was willing to pass, and to ask whether there is anything left of the Republican Party."

Rand Paul has opened deep divisions in the GOP. (photo: Getty Images)
Rand Paul has opened deep divisions in the GOP. (photo: Getty Images)

The GOP's Ball of Cheerful Hate

By Amy Davidson, The New Yorker

03 August 13


ongress has closed for a five-week vacation, leaving the rest of us to figure out what happened in the several days of yelling about bills that no one was willing to pass, and to ask whether there is anything left of the Republican Party. The best approach might be to put together a diagram of who hates whom in the G.O.P., except that the drawing would get too messy; you'd need an Etch A Sketch and, like Mitt Romney, after a while you'd just want to shake it.

To start simply: John McCain hates Rand Paul, so much that he suggested, to The New Republic's Isaac Chotiner, that he might prefer Hillary Clinton for President. Chris Christie hates Rand Paul, so much so that he said he was not interested in having a beer with him. Rand Paul seems to hate Chris Christie, since he called him the King of Bacon and mocked him to an audience in Tennessee by saying, "Gimme, gimme, gimme-give me all my Sandy money now." But then Christie had compared Paul to Charles Lindbergh-for his isolationism, not the aviation. What was strange about the Paul-Christie spat was that Charles Krauthammer and other observers spoke of it solemnly, as though it was the intellectual engagement on the future of foreign policy that the G.O.P. had been longing for. Really what we were talking about was Christie saying that libertarians like Paul ought to come to Jersey and sit across from a 9/11 widow before saying that the N.S.A. shouldn't collect all the information it wants to.

The other event of the week that was spoken of in similar terms was the Senate's collective primal scream at Rand Paul when he introduced a bill to take away Egypt's foreign aid and to use the money on infrastructure at home. He lost, by a count of eighty-six to thirteen, after the debate was extended so that everyone had a chance to tell him that he was awful and would destroy America's power. The tally would have been more "lopsided," Dana Milbank wrote, except that "in the final seconds of the roll call and after the outcome was obvious, a bloc of six GOP lawmakers led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) quietly cast their votes with Paul-not in agreement with him but in fear of the tea party voters who adore him." So there are also the people who hate Paul because they have to pretend to like him.

Republicans don't just hate Rand Paul for being something of a libertarian. There are also those who would object to how Paul would use that foreign-aid money-for building bridges. The Tea Party has become a confused (and less and less useful) shorthand both for libertarians of the Justin Amash, anti-domestic-spying variety, and for those who just want to wildly cut taxes. On Thursday, the Senate and House gave up trying to pass a transportation bill. Instead, the Minority Whip, Eric Cantor, spent the day getting a bill through the House that would have prevented the I.R.S. from dealing with any part of Obamacare, including provisions that involve tax credits, because he and his colleagues hate the I.R.S., taxes, and government agencies doing their jobs. They do, however, love legislative action that gets them closer to their apparent goal of arranging a vote to repeal Obamacare for every member of the Republican caucus. (They are at forty.)

The I.R.S. bill will fail in the Senate, where Ted Cruz is busy adding on to the list of reasons that other Republicans hate him by zipping around saying that they are cowards if they don't join him in threatening to stage a debt-ceiling-shutdown crisis unless Obamacare is defunded. "Let me be clear: I don't trust the Republicans," Cruz said. Democrats were at least candid about being "dangerous," while too many members of the G.O.P. were joining a "surrender caucus." He often smiles when he says things like that, so it's hard to tell whom exactly he hates-maybe everybody. McCain hates it when anyone says that he's too scared to vote for things that will cause the world economy to implode-"It's been a long time since I've been scared," he told ABC.

Other members of the Party might mind that Cruz forgot the part about pretending that the shutdowns were about unsustainable spending rather than weapons of fiscal terrorism, or about the Senate supposedly being less crazy and reckless than the House. But Cruz might be lost in a wave of general ineffectiveness: so many spending bills haven't passed that the government might shut down on October 1st without anyone really being clear about why.

In fairness, it seems that a good number of Republicans don't actually hate Senator Marco Rubio; they are just getting really annoyed at him, maybe for overthinking how to position himself on an immigration bill on which they would rather take no position at all. That is another set of divides: Republicans who hate immigration, those who hate that the Party is ending up in a place where it will lose the Hispanic vote, and those who hate that they have to think about this at all.

McCain told Chotiner that he wouldn't put Rubio in the same category as Paul, Cruz, or Mike Lee, the Utah senator who this week told Rush Limbaugh that Republicans needed to cut off all funds associated with "this wasteland that is the world of Obamacare" before "it starts, you know, buying some loyalty" by benefiting people.

John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, hates that it has become obvious that members of his caucus don't listen to him: some of them hate spending so much that they won't vote for any bill with a dollar figure above sequestration levels, or below it either. There are some who hate doing nothing, and others who are trying to chase away primary opponents, and maybe work out some of the stress, by pushing a bill limiting abortion rights-one that whatever semi-moderates are left in Congress will hate voting for or against.

Gail Collins, in the Times, imposed some intellectual order on all this by pointing out that the key line is between the Senators who want to run for President in 2016-Paul, Rubio, Cruz-and everyone else. That makes a little more sense than pretending that the G.O.P. is having a serious internal debate about foreign policy or the budget, let alone about a vision of government or citizenship. It just doesn't fully encompass the chaos. The Republican Party has not embarked on a grand civil war, with battle lines drawn and generals appointed. It's more like one of those fights in a cartoon, with characters jumping into a swirl of limbs and dust and cowboy hats. It is a rolling ball of cheerful hate, careening downhill, uprooting trees and legislative priorities, heedless of where it, or the country, is going. your social media marketing partner


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+191 # Barbara K 2013-08-03 13:18
Why would anyone want to vote Republican? What in the world have they done for US since 2009? They have their agenda of doing nothing, passing nothing, wasting time, all on OUR DIME. They've been making lots of money doing nothing. We pay their hefty wages, their insurance and their hefty retirement. They haven't earned a damned dime of it. Their only interest has been in what they can take away from us, even brag about it. Well, it is time we take away from them. Fire them. Their only other interest is legislating women's bodies. Our bodies are not government property and they have no right to make our decisions. We own our bodies. Filibustering is not legislating, sitting around plotting is not legislating, giving mealy-mouthed speeches is not legislating, so what good are they? VOTE THEM OUT AT FIRST OPPORTUNITY.

+80 # RODNOX 2013-08-03 15:13
what have they done for us period ? they only do " to " us
+15 # wantrealdemocracy 2013-08-03 17:11
It is not just the Repubs that are wasting our time. Put the Dems in that box too! All this horror that is going on--the endless wars, the economic collapse, the unemployment, the failing infrastructure, the spying and the growing police state has been given us by BOTH CORPORATE PARTIES. Obama says he would fulfill all our hopes for change if only the Republicans were not holding him back. Shee it!! the Republicans died a few years ago and they can not hold him back on any program he might want to start up to help the working people of this nation---but he doesn't give a hoot for anyone not in the top 1%. It's a great club and you and I are not in it. We need to vote them ALL OUT at the first opportunity!
+30 # tm7devils 2013-08-04 00:17
2009...? How about since 1980!
+20 # Mrcead 2013-08-04 06:31
Like I've said, busy work is all Republicans are capable of. They've no imagination because they've made it illegal within their ranks. Everything they come up with is regurgitated from previous administrations or taken from fiction novels of a dystopian America thinking it good because it means "more stuff" for them (they think themselves elites). Republicans are only capable of 2 levels of thought. Surface knowledge (what he said) and ulterior motive (they explode when they've been found out). To break the code, apply one of the two until the actions make sense from a "more stuff for me and less stuff for you" point of view. It's a fairly short exercise.

Neo-Barbarism is what this is called. Anti-progress is it's agenda and it's in full swing (look at our collapsing bridges and roads - "entitlements" are next, education is against the ropes). Notice how society is rolling back faster than an off brand freezer treat display at Walmart.
+18 # RMDC 2013-08-04 06:40
Agreed. All these republicans are just con men and rip-off artists. Their little fights are funny to watch, however.

Standing side by side, Christie and Paul remind me of Laurel and Hardy. Quite a show.
+20 # msleepyhead 2013-08-04 06:45
Well said. To answer your question: Because to not vote GOP may be a clear admission for many that their previous votes were cast because of ignorance, stupidity or hatred. In other words, THEY WERE WRONG! Not many people can admit others, or to themselves.
+9 # David Starr 2013-08-04 11:46
@Barbara: Your first statement alone deserves a thumbs up.
0 # Barbara K 2013-08-08 10:40
David Starr: Thank you.
+19 # X Dane 2013-08-04 13:06
I don't understand that they are not indicted for treason, for they want to bring the country down. All the actions they take aims at that, and all because they are a racist bunch that hate the first black president.

Why are the poor republican voters not rebelling? They are being sacrificed. Getting no help. Don't tell me that there are not a lot of poor or middle class republicans who are loosing their insurance or homes, through no fault of their own.

Are they just lambs going meekly to the slaughter to help their party.
0 # Barbara K 2013-08-08 10:39
I think they are treasonous and should be charged with it. It is treasonous to destroy or bring down our government like they are doing. Their taking of big money is treasonous, just so they can destroy America for the Nazi Koch Bastards. Taking pay and insurance benefits and retirement not earned is not only treasonous, but theft and dereliction of duty for doing absolutely nothing for our country or for us. VOTE THEM OUT !! THEY ARE NOT WHAT WE NEED.

+123 # CAMUS1111 2013-08-03 13:25
The GOP continues to stand its ground against America. I hear Zimmerman will be its keynote speaker in 2016--he's already working on his bullet points....
-13 # James Marcus 2013-08-03 14:21
The 'real' question (unfortunately) , is...Why would anyone want to vote, at all, any more?
ALL, are 'compromised'. 'Choice' (changing of anything substantial) is a constructed Illusion.
.......and The Band Played On
-6 # Doubter 2013-08-03 22:38
Funny you should go in the red. I guess our brothers here don't appreciate us cynics.
I claim voting for any of these bums only serves to LEGITIMIZE them. The more votes they get, the more they can get away with.
+1 # David Starr 2013-08-04 12:04
@Doubter: Ideally, you have a strong point, similar to James Marcus.

But my reply is in my post above @James Marcus.
+9 # David Starr 2013-08-04 12:02
@James Marcus: Ideally, you're mostly correct. (The are a few Democrats who are, at the least, progressives.)

The U.S. political climate is so pathetic that the "voting for the lesser of two evils" tactic clings on to life. The Republicrats are, excepting a few Dems, ethically bankrupt.

Two problems: No Left/Progressiv e party and/or coalition right now to effectively overcome the Republicrats. 2) Enough U.S. citizens among us who are politically-dis abled, in deep denial (ultra-national ists, especially), grossly apathetic, afflicted by a "money talks" mentality, fear and/or a short-sighted outlook.

The above shows your post to be to some degree accurate. But, having a defeatist attitude (should have included this above) within the population doesn't do anything.

To sound optimistic, the Left/Progressiv e movement is not going away. It isn't the end of history.
+65 # Billy Bob 2013-08-03 15:11
The GOP may hate its own members for not being psychotic enough, but from what I can tell, it's still being extremely successful at meeting it's goal (of crippling the entire federal government and blaming it on Democrats).

They've managed to force the left out of the Democratic Party and convince left-leaning voters that it's better to not vote at all or vote for someone polling in the 1% range.

They've managed to make it nearly impossible for millions of ORDINARY LAW ABIDING CITIZENS to vote.

They've managed to geryymander the House so severely (because people like me refused to soil pretty pureness and vote for a Democrat in 2010), that it will continue to be in their control for the rest of eternity.

They've managed to frame every debate in this country, to the point where Democratic politicians feel they have to fall all over themselves to appeal to conservative ideology.

They've managed to paint racist loons like Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz as "Constitutional ", "free-thinking" , "idealists", rather than folding under the scrutiny of the actual truth about their own words and actions.

They've managed to manipulate the Democratic Party into becoming nearly as right-wing as they are, WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY manipulating the public discourse into discussions about whether or not they're "communists".

+19 # crinvegas 2013-08-03 17:43
What Democrats have you spoken to recently? the Dems I know are more united than ever against the feckless Republicans.
+10 # Billy Bob 2013-08-03 17:56
Have you read a lot of the comments on these threads?
+3 # Feral Dogz 2013-08-05 09:25
Quoting Billy Bob:
Have you read a lot of the comments on these threads?

Have you noticed a lot of right wing trolls making comments here? This is part of the current "all in" power grab being funded by BIG MONEY to put an end to progressive politics and social awareness in the USA. ALEC is very busy spending corporate cash on massive propaganda campaigns in any and every venue that might reach independent voters. If you don't think that's happening here, you are very naive.
+10 # Skippydelic 2013-08-04 09:07
It's MUCH easier to motivate people through *outrage* than through *reason*; that's why the Republicans have been successful!

Remember "Network"? Howard Beale's "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" spiel was the *blueprint* for EVERYTHING that the Republicans have done since then!

The problem: What do you do AFTER you're done screaming?

Once the Republicans GOT the power that they wanted - Reagan, both Bushes, the Tea Partiers, etc. - they had NO IDEA what to do do with it! Thus, people like Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, the Koch Brothers, et al, were able to manipulate the 'collective anger' to their OWN ends!

And that's how we wound up where we are now...
+52 # Billy Bob 2013-08-03 15:12

For a party that's "falling apart" it's amazing how they're still getting their way on almost every front. I hope they never "get their act together".

I don't think the nation could survive THAT.
+7 # jwb110 2013-08-04 11:32
Quoting Billy Bob:

For a party that's "falling apart" it's amazing how they're still getting their way on almost every front. I hope they never "get their act together".

I don't think the nation could survive THAT.

Getting what they want may be the worst thing that could happen to them. I have often wondered if they have been paid out enough rope to simply hang themselves.
+2 # RLF 2013-08-05 06:17
They are getting their way by having forced the Dems to become repubes.
+38 # reiverpacific 2013-08-03 15:26
Why don't they just close down Congress full-stop (sorry -period in the US), at least for the short-term, so that even the somnambulist US population and it's apology for a media can see that in their present do-nothing-but- obstruct, they wouldn't be missed.
After all, they're pretty much on a permanent vacation from any useful function, in't they?!
"I've got a little list, I've got a little list,
And there's none them'd be missed
I sure they won't be missed"!
Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado".
+16 # Texas Aggie 2013-08-03 17:59
The High Executioner

Bring him on!!
0 # 666 2013-08-04 07:25
reiver, let's go back a little farther in English history, charles 1st tried that over a parliament that wanted to curb his spending on endless war
0 # reiverpacific 2013-08-04 16:48
Quoting 666:
reiver, let's go back a little farther in English history, charles 1st tried that over a parliament that wanted to curb his spending on endless war

Not just war but coining his own realm as it were.
-And they lopped off his head then got Ollie Cromwell the puritan but hardly a peacenik, even for these times.
Of course they finally turned around and did in the regicide crowd, hung, drawn and quartered even.
And y'r point is exactly??
+27 # scratchpaw 2013-08-03 15:51
The GOP is like a weak floorboard
in an abandon building. And their over weight posturing is also like a fat person
+46 # fredboy 2013-08-03 15:54
I worked with some people who saw hatred as power. That's what is happening with the GOP.
+46 # soularddave 2013-08-03 16:08
The Rethuglicans seem to operate on non-sequetors, non-truths and non-logic. They fool themselves and, seemimgly, lots of people lots of the time.
For instance, Christy's comment about sitting across from 9/11 widows and NOT telling them that our security people were WARNED several times that attacks were coming. It wasn't due to lack of snooping resources that the attacks could happen, but rather that the warnings were seemingly IGNORED.

The "Jersey Girls" know this, but just can't get officials to admit to what we already know.

Do we need more whistlebliwers to keep the government honest?
+2 # 666 2013-08-04 07:27
maybe put christie across the table from the families of those innocents illegally rendered, tortured and caged?
+12 # scratchpaw 2013-08-03 16:30
I wonder why l got a -1 it's as though I did it myself because their is no green or red
thumb up or down icons. And I'm a
die-hard leftist.
+9 # Billy Bob 2013-08-03 17:58
If you don't see the icons just refresh your screan.
+28 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-03 17:20
The GOP is just having an ordinary bar brawl.

Give them more broken chairs.
+21 # reiverpacific 2013-08-03 18:34
Quoting Walter J Smith:
The GOP is just having an ordinary bar brawl.

Give them more broken chairs.

And trap-doors under 'em to a deep, dirty, shite-encrusted , cockroach-crawl ing basement! "Heh-heh" (Evil chuckle)!
+30 # ganymede 2013-08-03 20:30
I think we're all in for a big surprise when Congress reconvenes after Labor Day. They really won't be missed, and while 90% of the country already thinks that tthis Congress is the worst ever, things are getting sorted out where there is a clear demarcation that the Republicans are much more useless than the Democrats. Obamacare, yes, it's the name which will be forever used, will be tweaked over the next year or two and will turn out to be the best thing that's ever happened to healthcare in this country. The reason is that there is no alternative to having a government administered health program which is what they have in every civilized country on the planet. These rightwing idiots are the same people whose predecessors fought against Social Security and Medicaire,and every piece of progressive legislation over the last 80 years. The saving grace in America is that the right never had a strong charismatic leader like Hitler, they've just had Palin,the Pauls, Gingrich, and other assorted clowns that we saw in the run-up to the last election. I'm predicting that this fall will see the collapse of the Republican Party, to be replaced with something less hateful.
+6 # Salus Populi 2013-08-04 03:42
Maybe the Aryan Nations Party -- even that would be "less hateful" than the sociopaths and hydrophobic curs that make up today's RethugNaziCon Par-T.
+5 # bingers 2013-08-04 06:01
From your keyboard to God's inbox.
+2 # 666 2013-08-04 07:47
are you writing this from a beach in a tropical paradise while sipping umbrella drinks?

let's try an alternate scenario: the fascists return even more emboldened; govt shuts down, lots more people suffer; obama caves on everything not NSA/MIC related; prices, fees, & taxes on LC & MC continue to climb; the rich & wall st get a freer ride, we put "boots" in syria & continue to drone bomb everyone else, active military & police repression (cheered by dems & gops) in this country gets worse... surveillance is legitimized (while snowden/greenwa ld/ et al. show it's worse that we ever imagined), racism is legitimized, more cities go detroit (& are privatized), food stamps end, more schools privatized, medicare & medicaid get cut, social security slashed (in more "grand bargains" by the "great compromiser"), the supremes reinstate wealth qualifications (disenfranchisi ng 97-98% of us), rule that 2nd amendment "militias" mean that govt should use private armies, & rule that abortion is illegal. meanwhile the climate continues to warm & seas continue to rise (faster than predicted), the poor continue to go hungry, violence & drugs continue to destroy the lives of many of the poorest (especially those of color).

All of this while the media begins to spin the "saviors" and "champions" of the next 3-ring election cycle & debate why Big brO is such a loser...
+5 # RobertMStahl 2013-08-04 11:36
About C Christie on propaganda about 9/11 supporting his contention with Paul, considering that the US is supporting both al_Qaeda and Mossad, factions at opposition to one another in the Middle East, the division going back to 9/11, it might be nice to demand an investigation, the first one, really.
+2 # Nick Reynolds 2013-08-05 09:32
Chris Christie ought to sit down across from some of the 9/11 relatives who don't believe the official conspiracy theory and who want a truly independent investigation into the events of 9/11. For example, just show the videos from the cameras that are all around the Pentagon. Or address the obvious controlled demolition of World Trade Center building 7, a 47 story skyscraper. The 9/11 Commission Report doesn't even mention WTC7. Most Americans, including probably most of the writers here, don't know three buildings collapsed that day. The official story is fraudulent. Everyone who isn't brainwashed by the MSM knows that. Yet, everything is justified by "9/11." Wow, wake up America.
+1 # Corvette-Bob 2013-08-05 13:49
Okay, were suppose to judge the Republicans by how many bills (laws) they have repealed. Fair enough that you wish to be judge by that standard. The question is now, how many have you repealed? By your own standards the Republican Party is a failure.
+2 # la jardinera 2013-08-06 10:37
Hey, Billy Bob and all you conscientious, self-righteous purer-than-pure lefties, here's the scoop: Always, without exception, always vote for the Democratic Party. Always vote in every election. Never let anyone off the hook, never let people say, "I can't vote for X-man or X-woman, no matter how slimy or distasteful it may be. Why? Because any Democrat will be better for your state and the country as a whole than any Republican, ever! Thems the facts, Max, or so it has been since 1968, the last time I was eligible to vote and sat out an election because I listened to the folks that said that Hubert Humphrey was too much like LBJ to run the country. So we got Nixon, and some of his black op guys put in the machinery that led to Reagan, and he put the supply-siders in charge of the economy ("deficits don't matter")and it has been downhill ever since, the widening gyre, the deepening vortex, as the gun-toting plutocrats and the militant Christian soldiers take us down the collective drain.

You can criticize the Democrats, but never stop working to improve the party and promote the party from within, despite ethical reservations. Part of the slimy master Republican plan is to make politics so distasteful that folks on the left will refrain from voting, while the Evangelicals whip up the X-soldiers with fear of abortion and gays, a formula they have been working for almost forty years.

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