January 31, 2014 Vol. VII, No. 4 9:13 am The January 16, 2014 John Davis Political Report, How the GOP 2013 Shutdown Fiasco became the Startup of Corrective Action for a 2014 Senate Takeover, proffered the observation that the 2013 shutdown fiasco was so cataclysmic for Republicans that it sparked the political will to push
January 31, 2014 Vol. VII, No. 4 9:13 am
The January 16, 2014 John Davis Political Report, How the GOP 2013 Shutdown Fiasco became the Startup of Corrective Action for a 2014 Senate Takeover, proffered the observation that the 2013 shutdown fiasco was so cataclysmic for Republicans that it sparked the political will to push back against Tea Party obstructionists and begin to make deals.
Yesterday, January 30, 2014, Republican House Speaker John Boehner indicated a shift in priorities when he told reporters at the GOP’s Legislative Retreat in Eastern Maryland, “It’s important that we show the American people we’re not just the opposition party, we’re actually the alternative party.” As an example, he announced “Standards for Immigration Reform” that include, “It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own, those who know no other place as home.”
January has seen numerous surprise moves by Republican leaders that signal a shift in priorities from stonewalling to offering alternatives and deal making; a shift to winning elections.
January 15, 2014, Tea Party groups like FreedomWorks and Heritage Action were dismayed when 87 House Republicans broke ranks and voted for a bipartisan compromise $1.1 trillion spending bill that passed the U.S. House by a whopping 359-67.
Earlier that same day, here in North Carolina, Republican Governor Pat McCrory greeted Democratic President Barack Obama warmly on the tarmac at Raleigh-Durham International Airport as he arrived for an announcement of a new manufacturing innovation institute at NC State. McCrory pitched his concerns about food stamps, Medicaid, unemployment and energy to the president, signaling an interest in negotiating with the liberal Democratic president on behalf of the state.
McCrory had already stunned conservative hard-liners earlier that week by praising former Democratic Governor Jim Hunt at the Hunt Education Institute’s Holshouser Legislators Retreat, saying: “Jim Hunt is a hero of mine, he’s a mentor of mine….he’s been a great adviser to me.”
The day after the president’s visit, January 16, 2014, another surprise. An overwhelming majority 76 U.S. Senators, including 17 Republicans, voted for the bipartisan compromise spending bill. The bill keeps government operations funded until September 30, 2014, and nixes another government shutdown fiasco until then.
Senator Ted Cruz, the Tea Party leader most responsible for the shutdown three months earlier, tried to unite his fellow Senators behind amendments aimed at defunding the Affordable Care Act. They had no stomach for another shutdown crisis. Cruz was ignored.
Fox News Alumnus Glenn Beck Admits Tearing Country Apart
Then, on January 21, 2014, perhaps the biggest surprise of all January Republican surprises.
Glenn Beck, former Fox News commentator with a reputation for irrational diatribes and hateful commentary, said in an interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly, “I made an awful lot of mistakes, and I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language. Because I think I played a role unfortunately in helping tear the country apart. And it's not who we are. I didn't realize how really fragile the people were. I thought we were kind of a little more in it together.
And now I look back and I realize if we could have talked about the uniting principles a little more, instead of just the problems, I think I would look back on it a little more fondly.”
Oh my goodness. Glenn Beck admitting on Fox News that his uncivil commentary helped tear the country apart. Admitting that words can hurt your party's brand among voters in the middle. A clear sign of shifting priorities among Republicans.
But then, a setback. On January 23, 2014, during the Republican National Committee's Winter Meeting luncheon, former Arkansas Governor and presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee referred to a woman’s libido in comments about birth control. All hell broke loose. The theme of the meeting, “Building to Victory,” was quickly overshadowed by non-stop news coverage of Huckabee’s statement. Overshadowed by words that tear the country apart.
Huckabee’s comment was Rush Limbaugh all over again, calling a college student a “slut” because she testified on behalf of government funded birth control. It was Missouri GOP U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin all over again, claiming that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant. It was Indiana GOP U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock suggesting that pregnancies resulting from rape are part of God's plan. Words that lose elections.
Wisely, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus spoke in his closing remarks on January 24, 2014, of the importance of being careful about what you say and how you say it. “As we look to grow the ranks of our party,” said Priebus, “we must all be very conscious of the tone and choice of words we use to communicate those policies effectively.”
Priebus, the architect of the GOP’s self-assessment a year ago, showing restraint. A leadership quality necessary to keep the party together. To stay focused on winning election in 2014.
Another Republican surprise during the month of January surprises came on Saturday, January 25, 2014, when Governor Pat McCrory said in a statement from his office that he did not think the state should appeal a federal judge's ruling striking down a key provision of abortion legislation passed by the Republican General Assembly before McCrory took office.
Then came Thursday, January 30, 2014, and another big surprise. The Republican-led U.S. House passed a compromise farm bill over the objections of Tea Party conservatives 251-to-166. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, an Oklahoma Republican, called the deal "a miracle" after three years of running into conservative roadblocks at every turn.
A miracle indeed. A month of miracles. A month of clear and convincing evidence last year’s shutdown debacle caused state and national GOP leaders to shift their priorities from being just the opposition party to being the alternative party willing to deal; from gridlock to winning elections.
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John N. Davis, Editor