How richly ironic that Barack Obama has prompted something of a rebirth in the Republican Party but this diminished group of hacks hasn't been able to figure out how to use it beyond throwing sand and screaming NO!
This seems to be lost on the GOP -- and certainly on de facto party leaders Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck -- because truth be known, and I am unable to fathom any other explanation, they're just not very smart people. As in their mistaking the party's ride on the back of the dragon of populist resentment for having a plan.
The most recent iteration of this "plan" came when several Senate Republicans co-sponsored an Obama proposal for a bipartisan commission to balance the federal budget but then voted lockstep with their peers to oppose it. And were stonily silent during the State of the Union speech last week when Obama proffered one of the GOP's perennial faves -- tax cuts.
Party bigs were on slightly better behavior when Obama, to riff off of an oft-used media metaphor, strode boldly into the GOP lions' den two days later at a party confab in Baltimore and said "Let's talk."
What transpired was not exactly a conversation and House Minority Leader John Boehner went out of his way to disabuse anyone who believes bipartisanship doesn't have a stake through its heart by bluntly stating on Meet the Press: "Listen, there aren't that many places where we can come together."
In other words, we're not blinking and we're certainly not taking our thumbs out of our asses.
The Party of No (which I have previously referred to as the Party of Beavis and Butthead) has painted itself into a way tight corner.
This is because a single Republican vote could hand Obama a victory on health-care reform, among other initiatives, and at this point not even the small handful of moderate Republicans, notably Olympia Snowe of Maine, are willing to be that vote.
Yes, there is anger out on the hustings.
Yes, this torch-and-pitchfork mentality threatens to drown out any and all discourse.
But Republicans fail to realize that folks are furious not just at Democrats but all pols. And do so at their peril. This is because in the end they are likely to be thrown from the dragon's back and the landing won't be pleasant.
Cartoon by KAL for The Economist