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December 22, 2010

Why Did Republicans Sell Out To Harry Reid?

Good question. Why not just hold off all important business until the new Senate is sworn in, where the party would have stronger negotiating position and get more of what it wants?

Harry Reid's brilliance? Um, seems to be too remote a possibility to bother considering.

Blame the RINOs, pure and simple, who do in fact have Washingtonitis -- the belief that they have a sort of Divine Right of Kings to decide the affairs of men, rather than voting according to their constituents' aspirations -- and see themselves as defending the gate from the barbarians.

The answer, I think, is that there are plenty of Senate Republicans who aren't too comfortable with the class of conservatives who got elected in 2010. These legislators knew they had to stick with McConnell before the election, as you can't win back the majority by handing the president lots of legislative accomplishments. But now that the election was over, the bills that had piled up were, in many cases, good bills, and if they didn't pass now, it wasn't clear that they'd be able to pass later.

The incumbent -- and the outgoing -- Republicans know that the fact that Republicans will have more power in 2011 doesn't necessarily mean that they'll use that power to pass sensible legislation. So those of them who wanted to pass sensible legislation decided to get it all done now, even if that meant handing Reid and Obama a slew of apparent victories in the lame-duck session.

That's Ezra Klein, but I think he's right.

Culture is thicker than ideology. It is often noted by Tea Partiers (and before that, what used to just be called grassroots conservatives before they had a more evocative name) that the leadership class, even the "conservative" parts of the leadership class, shares the same basic culture -- tastes, preferences, religiosity, manners, mods of thought -- with all other members of the leadership class, and that culture is largely liberal in almost all ways.

When offered a choice between their own culture -- shared with liberal senators -- and a culture to them which looks a lot like The Other, alien and frightening, they will do what human beings usually do, behave in a xenophobic, tribal fashion and align with the people they know and respect, and they respect them primarily because they agree with them so much.

And that usually means selling out their putative ideology, which The Other they're so frightened of does in fact believe in, and better understand, far better than they do.

And in reacting in a xenophobic, hatred-of-The-Other tribalistic fashion, they congratulate themselves on being "sophisticated" and "open-minded."

This I think is the reason many grassroots conservatives hate Mitt Romney and love Sarah Palin. Even though they agree on most issues, they sense Mitt Romney is from that leadership class, and will sell them out at the drop of a hat to keep in the good graces of the culture he admires and identifies with, and Sarah Palin is definitely from their own class -- what the establishment regards as The Barbaric Other -- and will tend to support them.

I don't think that's quite fair to Romney -- Ann Coulter thinks that below his chameleon act he is in fact mostly The Barbaric Other, same as we -- but that accounts for the open hostility to him. And I understand that, as he has reinforced that perception by joining the liberal leadership class (or at least ran his ship under their flag of convenience) when it served his purposes.


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posted by Ace at 12:11 PM

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