Government “Shutdown” Déjà Vu

facebook_share_wporgFourteen months ago, I publicly asked, in all seriousness, the question, “What government shutdown?” The public response to my question—and my disambiguation of “shutdown”—since then: silence. So now I have another question: Why are Republicans, even conservatives, so incorrigibly willing, sometimes it seems even eager, to truckle to word choices foisted on them by the Democrat left?

I’ve lost count of the politicians and public figures to whom I’ve presented this question since 2013. The message from me has always been: pick another word, for truthfulness sake, as long as it’s not “shutdown.” Not a single prominent public individual—not even a conservative—has taken up the verbal cudgel and followed up on my suggestion, at least no one in my media purview. Is it possible that so many people think words really don’t matter after all?

As for Republicans—viz. of the establishment variety—it’s easy to chalk this up to plain stupidness, a common political affliction among such ones. But conservatives? The rub is that there have long been conservative voices out there who have gotten the argument right, just not the word.

For instance, Mark Levin in a recent—and very excellent—rant went through a history of government “shutdowns” going back to the Carter years, in which he detailed the issues, the durations, and consequences of these events to show the obvious: the nation wasn’t cast into dire catastrophe, nor for that matter was the Republican party detectably and directly damaged. But for all Mark’s logical analysis, it ended up in my ears as “shutdown, shutdown, shutdown.”

The one public figure who has come closest, in my mind, to getting it (verbally) right was Rush Limbaugh in his recent interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. Here’s a part of what the two of them had to say:

WALLACE: [W]hat’s wrong with the Republican plan not to shut down the government? And what would you do?

RUSH: [I]t isn’t a government shutdown. They shut down 15%, 10% of it? It’s not a government shutdown. We’re losing the language. The government keeps running. Welfare checks keep going out. People that depend on the government get government services. It’s not a shutdown. I’ll tell you what it is: It’s a diversion and it’s a trick.

So, there I sat listening, as I am wont to do Sunday evenings, to the day’s political media—but always with the brick close at hand—as the interview went on; I was thinking, Yes, Rush, yes, and the word, what’s the right word for that? Not a mumblin’ word, just the same old “shutdown” all over again. Where was the wordsmith-in-chief when we all needed him? My elation at his poignant response was quickly followed by the same old discouragement.

Not long after I first put my “shutdown” question out there in 2013, a well-meaning conservatarian friend asked me, “Flyoverpen, don’t you think the current behavior of the GOP shows the time for this strategy is past?” Do I think the time for such a strategy is past now, as well? My response is yes, and yes, but not only because the House recently voted to give Obama virtually everything he wants. Alas, the current Republican “messaging” with regard to the issues of “shutdown” and “default” is much worse—hopelessly worse?—than it was in 2013.

In December 2014 the infamous “CRomnibus” bill squeaked through the House, after heavyhanded legislative bullying from Speaker Boehner, and fell into the hands of the Senate, where it was, unsurprisingly, bum’s-rushed—as an act of “bipartisanship”—to the President’s desk. And who presided over the Republican caucus there? Why, none other than Middlin’ Mitch McConnell, having been elected unanimously, no less, by his fellow Republican senators as Senate majority leader-to-be. I have long regarded Sen. McConnell as the stupid-Republican-in-chief for any number of reasons, not least his eager cleaving to the government “shutdown” phantom.

Here’s what Sen. McConnell had to say immediately after the November 2014 election: “Let me make it clear: There will be no government shutdowns and no default on the national debt.” Let’s deconstruct that statement carefully.

Democrat propagandists have long attempted to aver a necessary, inextricable link between a temporary government retrenchment—I will henceforth use my preferred term, thank you—and a default, horror of horrors, on the national debt.

But the U. S. Constitution, Article I, Section VIII places servicing the national debt at the top of the list of specified uses for tax revenue; moreover, it is the only enumerated spending power in the first clause since it is not qualified, as are “common defense” and “general welfare,” anywhere in the long list of semi-colon-separated enumerated powers in the remainder of Section 8. If that’s not enough, the Fourteenth Amendment, Section VI states, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, … shall not be questioned.” Surely defaulting qualifies as a legitimate subtopic of “questioning,” doesn’t it?

Forbes magazine and The Heritage Foundation long ago put final nails in the “shutdown”-entails-default coffin. The Daily Signal poked a concise finger in the Democrat chest: “The only way the federal government would default on its debt in the event the debt ceiling remains unchanged is for the Treasury to choose to default—an utterly implausible eventuality.” But the Treasurer is no freelance autocrat. Secretary Lew was appointed by, and answers to, President Obama, right? I’m not so sure default-post-“shutdown” is “an utterly implausible eventuality” at all. No one has more persistently peddled the “shutdown” -ergo-default mantra than the President himself.

In short, Democrats have perpetrated not just a blatant, unconscionable lie but an egregious, unconstitutional transgression with their threats of default on the national debt. But we expect such things of Democrats.

The Republican Party, for its part, is not known as the “stupid Party” for nothing. We’re not shocked when they recoil in craven consternation whenever Democrats call them naughty names. There’s something so very Republican-establishmentarian about mindlessly parroting the Democrats’ favorite propagandanomers in order to evade their electoral duty to be truthful and resolute. Such ones would not dare be goaded into defying Democrat language abuse by uttering words like temporary government retrenchment, slowdown, or even the more timid partial shutdown.

When Sen. McConnell made his above-cited post-election statement, however, he departed from the domain of mere stupidness and climbed many rungs down the hell-bent ladder of despicable duplicity. Sorry, I can’t bring myself to believe that he is so ignorant about how things work in the Federal government that he actually believes the “shutdown”-ergo-default line. And notice, he didn’t say “…or default on the debt”; he said “…and….” Who could doubt his conscious intention to link the two?

Sen. Mitch McConnell and all the other Republicans who echo his words are henceforth complicit with the Democrats in perpetrating one of the most menacing malefactions against the people in American political history. They are all liars now, from both parties.

Why are Republicans, after an historic wave election, so desperate for clemency from the left?

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