Who demands purity and wants chaos?

Harry Reid who refused to bring House bills to a vote in the Senate? Nope.

Obama, whose Treasury Secretary took to the airwaves to proclaim that Obama “absolutely” was willing to go over the cliff if tax rates were not raised? Nope.

It’s never them.

It’s always the Tea Party for refusing to give in to Obama’s demands.

I’m sick of that narrative, particularly when it comes from our own side.  Why is it that we are the recipient of these inflammatory accusations, not the Democrats?

John Podhoretz, Conservatives gone wild:

The most passionately anti-Obama Republican politicians and activists consider themselves the truest and purest of conservatives, and often unleash their scorn and fury on others who also call themselves conservative but differ on strategy and tactics.

But in the realm of philosophy, “conservatism” from Thomas Hobbes onward is a worldview dedicated to order and tradition and the proposition that disorder is dangerous and deadly.

Thus, it is the opposite of “conservative” to embrace chaos instead of order. It is the opposite of “conservative” to embrace crisis rather than accept unpleasant realities.

And yet, over the past week, that is exactly what many conservatives have done. They have violated fundamental conservative precepts.

In so doing, they have turned on other conservatives — people who agree with them on substance — and accused them of impurity and corruption for refusing to march their party and their movement over a political cliff.

It’s not a question of “purity.” That’s a convenient word to use to diminish the opposing view without addressing the merits.

Let’s look at those merits.  There was no reason for Obama to threaten to go off the cliff if marginal tax rates (as opposed to revenue) were not raised, other than an attempt to punish and to create conflict within the Republican Party.  Why is it a test of “purity” to refuse to give in to an economically irrational, purely political demand?

And how would it create “chaos” if tax rates rose on everyone?  You may not like that outcome, but it’s not chaos.  To the contrary, it might have been a wake up call to the American population that the cost of big government cannot be borne by the top 2%.  You want big government, you pay for it.  That’s not chaos.

There also was no certainty that such an outcome of taxes rising would happen.  A lot more backbone, and a willingness to call Obama’s bluff, just as likely would have resulted is a better economic deal consistent with restraining the growth of government.  And if it didn’t, it was just as likely to be a pox on both parties’ houses as it would be a political cliff for Republicans.

Nor does it violate some conservative principle to say that raising taxes is not the answer, and to focus on controlling spending and reforming entitlements.  We proposed an entirely rational method of preserving economic order.

Podhoretz also complains that some Republicans opposed Boehner’s reelection:

What they did was what leaders do — or rather, what leaders of those who are in a losing position do. The best they could.

The problem is that conservatives seem to think there were other choices, other ways, other possibilities — when all those choices, ways and possibilities had been exhausted.

And so many of them are literally embracing chaos. Though they oppose raising taxes, by voting against the tax bill on Tuesday night they effectively voted to raise taxes on 98 percent of Americans…

In so doing, they came close to handing Boehner a humiliating and entirely destructive defeat — forcing a second ballot and leaving their own party leader critically injured. They seemed to crave disorder.

This is how people who are more comfortable on the margins than in the middle of things behave. This is cannibalism, not political combat. This is unreason, not reason. This is temper, not temperament.

This is anarchism, not conservatism.

There were other choices which were presented to the Senate, but Harry Reid refused to allow a vote, even to amend it and send it back to the House.  The House, if it had creative leadership, could have crafted other alternatives such as a short term postponement of the cliff to allow negotiation of a “grand bargain.”

There were alternatives, except that the House leadership fell into the trap of viewing the choice as going off the cliff or not.  It was a failure of nerve and a failure of creativity coupled with an announced willingness of Obama to go off the cliff, which resulted in horrible legislation which Senators did not even read prior to approving it.

Given the failure of leadership, why was it a “purity” test and a wish for “chaos” to decline to vote for the leader?  Why have a vote at all, if Yes is the only answer.

To dismiss the criticism of the tax rate rise and the abysmal failure of the Republcian negotiating strategy as a “purity” test and desire for “chaos” is a cop-out which just encourages further unreasonable demands from Democrats.

For Republicans to make the accusations against the Tea Party without justification is just icing on Obama’s cake.


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