The fractured nature of the GOP has been put on full display over the last few days. As one wing of their party drives the country further to the brink of a full government shutdown in the House of Representatives, cooler heads both in that body and in the Senate — as well as those outside elected offices — are trying to point Speaker John Boehner and the rest of his Republican cohorts towards the last time an ideologically intransigent Republican-led House shut down the government over political posturing. It was a bloodbath at the polls in both 1996 and 1998, costing the GOP control of both houses of Congress.
Yet, history clearly means nothing to Boehner and his fellow elephants because for nearly the same reason — and alleged spending crisis — are taking the country down the exact same path. The shutdown is wildly unpopular and yet, here we are on the brink. Already the unkind words are starting to flow about the mess as well. For instance, on a panel discussion on CNN over the weekend, Speaker Boehner found himself the target of some pretty scalding remarks about his leadership.
Former-President Clinton’s Chief of Staff John Podesta said, “If you go back to ’95 and ’96, the last government shutdown—which knocked half a point off the GDP in the United States—at least Gingrich was in charge of his caucus.”
He continued: “Heritage Action and Ted Cruz and the Koch brothers are running the Republican House caucus. It is amazing the weakness that the leadership has shown in not staring these guys down.” The panel agreed that Gingrich would never have allowed a rogue hard-right Senator like Ted Cruz to sully the waters of negotiation and cause such strife not just in Washington, but within the Republican Party itself.
Watch a clip from the CNN discussion panel below.