Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The New Coke Shutdown Strategy

Given A Choice, Republicans Will Opt for Switch User
HotAir's Allapundit sees a familiar shape in the latest Government Shutdown dialog:
As others have noted, this is their Plan B after trying and failing to bait the GOP into impeaching Obama. They know they’re going to have a tough night in November if something doesn’t change dramatically and fast, and whining about Burger King moving to Canada isn’t going to be that something. The new deus ex machina: Convince the public that not only might Republicans shut down the government next year, they might shut it down this year, to punish O for his various monarchical excrescences.
Specifically, the idea is that Obama might (a) issue a sweeping 'amnesty' order on immigration 'round October which (b) provokes the House into causing another government shutdown that (c) catapults Democrats in the polls--just like last time.

Is That Possible?
It's possible--and by possible The Omnivore means that that chain of events could happen. The Omnivore doesn't, however, think that is likely and finds it even less likely that that is the plan. Why? Not? There are a few reasons:

  • The last shutdown also invoked the debt ceiling (which would be catastrophic--possibly even dogotrophic) which hurt Republicans even more and was even less defensible. This one would not.
  • The last shutdown was over fairly arcane political maneuvering--not something the Democrats has just done that was fairly unpopular (which immigration reform would be).
  • Obama is more unpopular now than he was last time around (although the Republican's favorability is even below Obama's).
  • In a crucial election year an immigration act would probably fire up the GOP base more than the Democratic base. While a shutdown might fire up the Democratic base, if it was seen as political maneuvering it would lose weight with the Democratic base (and non partisan observers).
The New Coke Strategy
When the Coca-Cola company switched their formula to New Coke, got a huge negative reaction, switched back to 'Classic Coke,' and wound up with more market share than before, some people asserted that was the plan all along. It wasn't--the president of Coca-Cola said "We're not that smart and we're not that stupid." This doesn't stop people from thinking, for example, that things like Bush deciding to let the towers fall on 9/11 would be a decent plan because it would move the dial on his Middle East strategy.

The idea that governing entities will create massive uncertainty and wide-scale destruction (which a government shut-down would be) with the intent being a "controlled crash" that they profit from at the end is conspiracy-theory thinking. This is like you saying: "Hey, Bob is annoying me and has a really attractive girlfriend. I know, I'll run him over with my car, beat the attempted murder-rap, and then his hot girl-friend will see me as the victimized party and we'll start dating! It's an awesome plan!"

Almost no one lives their life that way--and successful people certainly don't. Executive action is all about mitigating risk.

This brings us to the big question: Why not wait until after the elections to do the executive order? Wouldn't that be the smart thing to do?

Maybe: but if Team Obama assesses that despite some rhetoric the GOP will not actually cause another shutdown and that the impeachment stuff, even as nothing came of it, was great for fundraising, then they may see no actual downside.

In other words, if they assume that the shutdown discussion is all a bluff and aren't actually counting on it to hurt the Republicans, then they are free to pander to the Latino base as much as they want and conservatives will fume and threaten (which is good for raising money) but producing no catastrophic result.

So the question is: Do they feel lucky?

Well? Do they?

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