After holding this country hostage and causing irreparable harm to so many, humiliated House Republicans have finally surrendered. However, Robert Reich has a clear-eyed message for those who might be feeling smug: now is the time to utterly destroy this plague of conservative extremism which has infected our politics for too long.
Of course, Reich employs an admittedly juicier metaphor than my own:
Why now? Because since Obama's election, those extremist elements within the Republican Party now driving conservative policy have also driven the President to make concession after concession.
Now is the time to lance the boil of Republican extremism once and for all.
Whenever Obama compromised with or caved in to Republican extremists – from 'sequestration' to 'fiscal cliff' – GOP demands merely increased twofold.
However, now, with the Obama Administration and Democrats refusing to allow the government's very functioning to be used as a point of leverage, Republicans are being exposed on the playground for what they truly have become: well-to-do, self-interested bullies who don't have enough grit or substance to actually fight (for their constituents, for Americans).
The government is shuttered and the nation is on the verge of defaulting on its debts. But public opinion has turned sharply against the Republican Party. And the GOP’s corporate and Wall Street backers are threatening to de-fund it.And those Senate colleagues will attempt to take up the fight, to continue a softer, gentler hostage-taking scenario. Just cut Medicare, they'll say. Just budge on taxes, they'll say.
Suddenly the Republicans are acting like the school-yard bully who terrorized the playground but finally got punched in the face. They’re in shock. They’re humiliated. They’re trying to come up with ways of saving face.
With bloodied nose, House Republicans are running home. They’ve abruptly turned negotiations over to their Senate colleagues.
But this time, Obama and Democrats must stand firm. They must look the bloodied bullies in the eye, point off to the distance, and wait until they march home in defeat.
For if this happens, the extremism which has infected the Republican party might very well march with them.
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, just out from Oneworld Publications.