One really, really important point to remember about House Republicans right now: There’s a very good chance that a whole bunch of them just have no idea what they’re doing. For example, they visited the Senate today for the Cut, Cap and Balance vote, and Dave Weigel talked to them:
I walked out of the vote with Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Rep. Jim Jordan, two of the House’s CCB diehards. The two of them discussed the possibility of bringing the bill off the table. “They didn’t kill it,” said Chaffetz. “They just tabled it. That’s a great sign for us.” So it’s alive? “Clearly. They’re in panic mode.”
That would be Jason Chaffetz, member of the House from Utah. And no, it’s not a “good sign” for CCB proponents; it’s not any kind of sign at all. Tabling is a normal way to kill things in the Senate. Chaffetz might want to learn that, since he happens to be running for the Senate. He is talking nonsense here (as Weigel explains in his post). Here’s the thing, though — how do you negotiate with people who just have no idea what they’re talking about? Here’s another example, from the NYT write-up of the party-line vote against CCB:
[T]he outcome was a foregone conclusion and leaders of both parties said the Senate needed to dismiss the House plan to show Republicans that the proposal was dead.
This is just depressing if true; it implies that an unspecified number of rank-and-file Republicans are, I don’t know how else to put it, either too detached from reality or too stupid or too incompetent to know that CCB was DOA without actually seeing the Senate results. And, based on what Chaffetz was saying, even watching the vote wasn’t enough to convince some of them.
Steve Benen had a really good item this morning pointing out that those seeking to criticize Barack Obama need to understand just what he’s dealing with, but I think even he underestimates just how impossible it must be to get through to some of these folks. You know, Buffy faced a lot of really formidable foes over seven seasons of her show, but the highly incompetent and more than a little buffoonish geek Trio was responsible for some of the most devastating and heartbreaking damage.
[more detailed view of the entire negotiation, by the same author, here.]