Home Political News Right-wingers appear to have learned little from failed stand

Right-wingers appear to have learned little from failed stand


By John Krull

John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com

John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – Abraham Lincoln once told a story about a man who had been tarred and feathered and rode out of town on a rail.

Commentary button in JPG - no shadow“If it weren’t for the honor of it, I’d rather have walked,” the man said.

In the aftermath of the slow-motion train wreck that was the 16-day federal government shutdown and dangerous flirtation with the economic disaster that would have accompanied a default on the nation’s debt, members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate know something about the way the man in Lincoln’s story felt.

The honor they’ve brought upon themselves and their institutions is dubious at best.

To most of the world, the whole battle made little sense. A relatively small group of conservative lawmakers decided to try to hold this country’s – and, to some degree, the world’s – economic stability hostage to get a policy victory that they weren’t able to win in Congress, in court or at the polls.

More than a few of them blithely said that a default on our national debt wouldn’t be that big a deal, despite what every economist and credible business person in the country was telling them.

The Standard and Poor index estimated that the government shutdown and pointless dance with potential default drained $24 billion out of the U.S. economy.

And for what?

The tea party conservatives who started us down this road said they wanted to kill the Affordable Care Act. In the end, after wasting $24 billion and throwing the entire country into upheaval, what they got was a commitment for income verification – a provision that already was in the law.

Along the way, they managed to do severe damage to the Republican Party’s reputation. Polls revealed that the GOP’s standing had reached record lows. Some polls showed that Americans now prefer Democrats to Republicans by more than 20 points.

Worse, the tea party “wacko birds” – as 2008 Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called them – drew increasing fire from the right as well as the left. The American Conservative magazine ran a piece that blistered the tea party wing of the GOP and said:

“There is no serious argument for Republican governance right now, even if you prefer conservative policies over liberal ones. These people are just too dangerously incompetent to be trusted with power.”

This is bad news for a lot of reasons, but chief among them is this: No political party in this country – Republican or Democratic – can be trusted to use power wisely without the check of credible opposition.

Right now, at the national level, Republicans aren’t credible.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this sorry episode in American history is that the far right-wingers don’t seem to have learned anything from the experience.

Five members of Indiana’s congressional delegation voted against a deal to raise the debt ceiling and for derailing the American economy. They included two members who had worked their way into the national consciousness by bits of buffoonery – Rep. Todd “Loverboy” Rokita, R-Ind., (who flirted with a CNN anchor on national television by calling her “beautiful”) and Rep. Marlin “Grab Bag” Stutzman, R-Ind., (who told The Washington Examiner that Republicans had to get something out of the shutdown even if they didn’t know what it was that they wanted).

They were defiant to the end. Just before the vote in the House to reopen government and avert economic catastrophe, Stutzman issued a statement:

“Hoosier families are struggling under the weight of Obamacare’s job-killing mandates and the nation’s crushing $17 trillion debt.  This bill does nothing to provide relief of those issues or end special treatment for Members of Congress under Obamacare and therefore I will oppose it.”

Perhaps the Stutzmans of the world can’t learn anything from this debacle. As they retreat back to heavily gerrymandered districts, their biggest fear is being “primaried” – facing a challenge from within their party from someone whose views are even more extreme than theirs.

This means that, regardless of the defeats they suffer and the damage they do to their party and country, a core of right-wingers likely still will be in a position to defy reality and court disaster.

A century ago, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives was Rep. Joe Cannon, R-Ill. A contemporary said that Cannon was so conservative that, if he’d been alive at the time of creation, he would have voted against God and for chaos.

If Cannon were alive today, he might be the poster boy for the tea party.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 FM Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.


  1. 17 trillion in debt 50 million Americans living in poverty unemployment over 7% for 5 yrs……the tea party gets it…..mr. krull is a progressive radical liberal shill nothing more nothing less……

  2. Mr. Krull, retirement is something you should look into. You come across as bitter and hateful. Maybe if you retire you will feel better and will be a nicer person.

      • So compromise is just caving to whatever Grover Norquist commands? This ACA has survived elections and the Supreme Court. Time to give it up. I seem to remember you guys crying about the Indiana dems fleeing to Illinois. How’s the TEA party shenanigans better?

        • The tea party reps didn’t run and hide but chose to stay and fight.
          A few elected representatives go to Washington and actually attempt do what they campaigned on and today that’s considered “extreme”? Sad.

          • Yes, it was extreme. I guess we don’t have a majority rules system. How else can we do things? Oh, and right wing states tend to have the highest poverty rates and most uninsured and on welfare. Why would those people vote for people who want to keep them that way, Republicans? The equalizer: Bible thumping. Big business uses that as a clever diversion.

          • He called us bible thumping. Sorry but I take that as a compliment. An extreme compliment. Thank you

  3. I came to CCO to get away from the Krulls of the world. There is really no need to be printing his screed on any issue, as it is all too predictable.

    Krull, Brian Howey, and a whole host of AP lefties own the Evansville Courier&Press. Let them remain there.

    Give me Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Victor Davis Hansen, the woodpilereport.com.

    What has happened to this website?



    • WOW Pressanykey—Whether you agree or not ,you need to read other people’s opinion in order to have a better understanding of the issues as well as your on opinion.

      Sad but true–Republican Party lost public support over this issue. One must have public support to win elections. We need to win elections to change things.

      The Democrats knew that Republicans were not going to let our economy go into a default situation even if we were right on the issue. Lesson: Do not make a threat if you cannot follow through with the threat.

      Republicans lost this battle, but we must never give up on winning the war. Obamacare needs to be repealed.

      • i disagree wayne…. with the out right ineptness of barrycare i strongly believe thanks to cruz and lee the education of the masses along with the middle class living the barrycare fiasco the tea party has won a huge victory………

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