There’s an old joke:
Q: Why do dogs lick their own genitals?
A: Because they can.
The modern Republicans function on the same principle. It sees no cost to hypocrisy, it says that it can do whatever it wants, and if you try to stop it, there’s always a 2nd Amendment Solution threat to toss around like a grenade with the pin removed.
Under Barack Obama, the deficit was a major threat to our future. It was stealing bread from future generations to prop up silly programs (like roads and bridges!) today. And then, the clock struck midnight, Trump entered, and lo! cutting taxes to create a massive deficit is what all the cool kids do.
What would happen if they defied illogic and stood up to dumbassery?
- They would be primaried, losing 30-60% of the challenges
- The alt-right boneheads that replaced them would also lose 30-60% of their races
So, the GOP would be in a temporary setback, until the voters realized that getting creamed in the legislative races doesn’t do them any good and would inevitably moderate.
What does happen, instead?
- They adopt alt-right dumbassery
- They remain viable enough to slip farther into the pit of doom they will soon call home (and if we’re not careful, we all will as well)
Even now, before the Democrats take the gavel in the House, parts of the news media are back to treating Trump as a normal president. They think, wrongly, that being bested at the polls might make him face the music. There are takes along these lines:
- Dems should prioritize legislation over investigation
- Trump seeks to cut deals with the Democrats
To the first, it’s a false dichotomy. There will be investigations. There will be legislation. Those are both jobs of the Congress when it’s operating properly. Moreover, they go hand-in-hand. You have to investigate in order to legislate properly.
As to making deals, that’s part of the job, too. Not just with the president, but with other legislators, with the minority. There are a thousand deals done in Washington per day (including Xmas!), but almost no good (and only a little evil) comes of most of them.
Why does the news media fall back to the same worn narratives at each stage of the disaster of Trump? Because that’s their reflex, their muscle memory. They are working off a parametric equation that says something like:
+ Republican Senate
+ Democratic House
It’s the same reflex that was at work when they did a wholly-inadequate job questioning the intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq war. It’s the same reflex that couldn’t properly deal with Trump in 2015-6. This is an industry that had tape ready to roll as soon as President George Bush’s death was announced. It’s not the investigative journalists that are the failure in media, it’s the rank-and-file paper-pushers that are merely providing a nice Muzak-esque environment for advertisers.
Which is the same God damned thing that the rank-and-file Republicans (and plenty of Democrats, to be sure) are doing for all sorts of dubious organizations and industries.
There’s a reason that the odds of Paul Ryan coming out in favor of doing something about climate change jump from 0% to at least 50% as soon as he is out of office. It’s the same one, over again. He can’t say that in the House, he has to wait until he’s a civilian. It takes time to sober up from the years-long binge on campaign adrenaline. The scent of lobbyist cologne and perfume does wash off, but it lingers awhile.