Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

The Struggles to Come

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

The Struggles to Come

Article excerpt

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who would dearly love to be president, recently berated his fellow Republicans for insufficient fortitude in opposing President Obama's executive orders that gave legal protection to millions of undocumented immigrants.

"It's time for our Republican leaders in Congress to grow a spine," he thundered at a gathering of conservative activists. "It's time for them to do the job we elected them to do."

But other Republicans suggested it was time for folks like Jindal to grow a brain. In their view, blocking funds for the Department of Homeland Security -- as a way of forcing the president to back down on immigration -- was a foolish and futile exercise that would blemish the GOP's brand just as the 2016 presidential campaign takes shape.

"We've engaged in an exercise of tactical malpractice, self- delusion and self-destruction," lamented Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate from Pennsylvania.

He's right about self-delusion, and in the end House Speaker John Boehner was forced to confront "political reality" and allow passage of a DHS funding bill containing no restrictions on Obama's immigration policy.

But that fight revealed a series of political realities that will not go away. And any hope for bipartisan cooperation over the next two years -- which flared briefly after Republicans took control of the Senate last November -- is flickering badly.

The first reality is that Senate Democrats have united behind the hard-nosed tactics of their leader, Harry Reid, and are ready to employ a device they deeply despised when Republicans used it against them: the filibuster.

The second reality is a split in Republican ranks between the Spines and the Brains. The Spines agree with Jindal, that they were elected to defy Obama at every turn. They have no interest in compromise. Moreover, many were elected in districts drawn to guarantee a GOP victory and protect them from any kind of political accountability. …

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