“It was absolutely critical that everybody be together because if the proponents of the bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is O.K., they must have figured it out,” Mr. McConnell said about the health legislation in an interview, suggesting that even minimal Republican support could sway the public. “It’s either bipartisan or it isn’t.”You have to keep in mind that, as Mike Lofgren pointed out, the goal of unity in obstruction was to convince the public to react with "a plague on both your houses."
Mr. McConnell said the unity was essential in dealing with Democrats on “things like the budget, national security and then ultimately, obviously, health care.”
A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.We saw that unity in the House collapse into chaos over the so-called "fiscal cliff." But now, Sen. McConnell is beginning to have some trouble amongst his own ranks when it comes to the debt ceiling fight.
A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) became the first Republican senator to come out against using the debt ceiling as leverage for spending cuts, contradicting Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans who favor such a tactic.Sen. Murkowski breaking ranks would be a big deal. But she's also blowing the whistle on the fact that most of her other colleagues in the Senate aren't ready to toe the obstruction line on this one either. That's HUGE!
In an interview with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner published Tuesday, Murkowski said, "If you incur an obligation, you have a responsibility to pay for that." According to the paper, "Murkowski said spending cuts are crucial but shouldn't be tied to the debt ceiling debate."
"Murkowski, at a News-Miner editorial board meeting on Jan. 9, said she doesn't think the debt limit should be used for political leverage," wrote reporter Jeff Richardson. "Murkowski said not all of her colleagues in the Senate will say it out loud, but she believes most agree that failing to raise the debt limit would harm perception of the country."
Yeah, I'd say that what we're witnessing in small incremental doses is that "the fever is breaking." That doesn't mean that the the beast has finally died. Its just a few steps closer to that inevitable end.