What Moderate Republicans?

A Surabaya Zoo health worker checks the

Barro believes they’re all talk:

If you look at members’ actions and votes instead of their statements, the number of Republicans in the House who favor a clean CR and oppose the Cruz-driven strategy of shutdown and hostage-taking is not 21. It’s 0. The entire House Republican caucus is responsible for its shutdown-based legislative strategy. The only difference among the members is that Tea Party conservatives have the decency to admit what they’re up to.

Elias Isquith piles on:

If [Peter] King were half the maverick the media’s made him out to be, he’d have more to show for himself than a handful of headlines from liberal outlets cheering at the sight of internal GOP dysfunction. He’d have some votes to back it up. But as Brian Beutler has demonstrated, tangible evidence of real opposition to the Tea Party order is exactly what Peter King lacks. At nearly every critical juncture, at almost every moment when he could’ve taken a stand against his party’s recklessness, Peter King did exactly nothing. Take away the media spotlight, the salacious pull-quote, and the hard-eyed glare. Leave the legislative record — both before and during the shutdown crisis. Stop and take a gander at what’s left to see. You’ll find one procedural vote of dissent: little to look at, much less to praise.

The purge has worked, hasn’t it? There is effectively no Republican party any more. There is a radical movement to destroy the modern American state and eviscerate its institutions in favor of restoring a mythical, elysian, majority-white, nineteenth-century past. This crisis is proving that more powerfully than even watching Fox. We need to see what is in front of our nose: a cold civil war has broken out between those properly called conservatives, defending the credit of the government, empirical reality, and adjustments to modern life and those properly called radical reactionaries declaring our current elected president and Senate as illegitimate actors, bent on the destruction of America, and therefore necessitating total political warfare, even to the point of threatening to destroy the global economy.

There is a really tough choice for the president to make – almost as tough as the choices Lincoln had to make.

Does he try to negotiate with those who simply wish to nullify his election or does he reluctantly declare war in return in order to save the republic from an economic catastrophe? I’m glad I’m not president at a moment like this. But I sure hope the president reads Sean Wilentz today and listens to former president Bill Clinton from last July:

He pointed to an obscure provision in the 14th Amendment, saying he would unilaterally invoke it “without hesitation” to raise the debt ceiling, “and force the courts to stop me.”

Would this lead to impeachment? Surely it would in the House. Which would make it a historical fact that the GOP has impeached the last two Democratic presidents who dared to get a second term. I have a feeling that reasonable Americans in the middle – if there are any left – would regard that as clear evidence that we have a rogue element in the polity that needs to be drummed out of office in 2014.

But I remain queasy about this, as anyone who cares about preserving the regular order of things should. But when one party is threatening an economic catastrophe because it lost the last election, the regular order of things has clearly already come unglued.

(Photo: Getty Images.)