In a recent attempt at rebutting my claim that the Teahadist Party is undemocratic and a creature of resurgent neo-fascism not seen since the heydays of the John Birch Society, George Alger uses “facts” from the Rush Limbaugh-Ann Coulter playbook. He claims that under Tip O’Neill’s reign as speaker, there were 12 government shutdowns (up from seven that many other right-wing bloviators claim).
The numbers bandied about by Alger or Limbaugh do not matter: They’re all false. I was a fed working in Washington during those years and neither I, nor anyone else whom I polled, can recall any shutdown, or even hearing of one. Chris Matthews, MSNBC host and author of “Tip and the Gipper,” was Tip O’Neill’s chief of staff at the time and in a position to know the facts (a dangerous concept to Teahadists). He has qualified the “shutdown” claims of the Right as “hogwash.” Matthews said there are often technical delays in putting together, and publishing, Continuing Resolutions but none ever lasted more than a few minutes or hours, at most. None was ever caused for political reasons. The only real “shutdowns” were the two caused by Gingrich. Shutdowns are an exclusive Republican tactic that no grown-up would consider borrowing.
The principal difference between then and now is obvious. Then, when Tip O’Neill was speaker, we had reasonable, and disciplined, people in charge who understood the importance of their individual roles in the running of the country and how vital it is to keep the cogs of government operating. Let us not forget that the Teahadist temper tantrum has cost the country $28 billion so far. I was in Washington during the shutdown and most restaurants, souvenir vendors, travel agents, tourist guides and sightseeing buses, etc. were shuttered and some will never re-open. Not to speak of the thousands of disappointed foreign tourists who now believe that we are a banana republic. Thank you, Teahadists.
Mr. Alger is fond of claiming that President Obama keeps violating laws, thereby giving Teahadists an excuse for disobeying laws they do not like. The Constitution that Mr. Alger is fond of citing gives a remedy for presidents who violate the law — ask Nixon. Why not ask Teahadist extraordinaire Tom McClintock to initiate impeachment proceedings? It probably won’t happen because McClintock knows that he would embarrass himself by showing how little support the Teahadist Party has.