While John is saying “let them vote no”, the Politico is gushing about the Repubicans’ new tactics:
Congressional Republicans, who only weeks ago were sheepish about their own electoral failures and cowed by Obama’s polish and popularity, are suddenly punching back — hard — on both sides of the Capitol.[…]
Then this morning, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) went for the jugular, urging his members to oppose the economic centerpiece of Obama’s first term just hours before the president paid the Republicans the compliment of coming to the Capitol for a private meeting — even before he did the same for House Democrats.
Obama’s aides cast the visit as an outstretched hand — and it got slapped.
The bottom line: a coordinated effort to embarrass a president who looked largely unassailable just weeks ago.
This was all pretty predictable, of course. There was no way Republicans would do anything but attack and there was no way their attacks would be portrayed as anything but tough, gutsy, jugular-cutting maneuvers. I don’t know whether or not this makes any difference politically, because I don’t know if our politics are now post-bitch-slap. In my view, the last however many years have been dominated by what Josh Marshall calls “bitch slap” politics:
Let’s call it the Republicans’ Bitch-Slap theory of electoral politics.
It goes something like this.
On one level, of course, the aim behind these attacks is to cast suspicion upon Kerry’s military service record and label him a liar. But that’s only part of what’s going on.
Consider for a moment what the big game is here. This is a battle between two candidates to demonstrate toughness on national security. Toughness is a unitary quality, really — a personal, characterological quality rather than one rooted in policy or divisible in any real way. So both sides are trying to prove to undecided voters either that they’re tougher than the other guy or at least tough enough for the job.
Obviously, Barack Obama isn’t John Kerry and this isn’t a debate on national security, but I think the same rules may still apply.
Update: The more I think about this, the more it seems likely that one of two things will happen here:
1. The Republicans will actually try to filibuster this thing, which would be a political debacle of Schiavo-like proportions.
2. Snowe, Specter, et al. will not go along with the filibuster and it will pass 65-35 or so. The Red State Strike force will laud McConnell and call the filibuster-breakers “RINOs”.
I’m hoping for 1. but I think 2. may be more likely.
I also think the media will continue to play up the Republican attempted bitch slap, but it’s more than likely that Obama’s give ’em enough rope strategy will lead to the Republicans hanging themselves, one way or another.