As loaded as the word traitor and all that it connotes is, I can now say without qualification but with considerable sadness that the never ending Republican obstructionism in Congress has reached traitorous levels.
Recall that it was a healthy (pardon the term) majority of congressional Republicans who reached across the aisle in August to join Democrats in the formation of a highly unusual two-party, 12-member super committee to come up with a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. The only similar super committee was a rolling effort from 1989 to 2005 through two Republican and one Democratic administration to determine what military bases should be closed, and that worked pretty well precisely because of its bipartisan nature.
With only three weeks to go before the budget super committee must finish its work, an all too familiar pattern has emerged.
Democrats have fashioned a plan to meet the budget reduction goal and then some by cutting, among other things, from cherished social programs, and are bending over backwards to accommodate their Republican colleagues. Their plan is in essence a $3.2 billion compromise which includes $1.3 trillion in new tax revenues.
The Republicans are having none of it, believing (although undoubtedly not in many of their hearts) that the deficit reduction goal can be met without any new tax revenues.
This on its face would seem to be a philosophical difference between a moderate to liberal party and a moderate to conservative party, but if your philosophy is that there should be no tax increases whatsoever -- and in fact there should be tax cuts -- in the aftermath of the Great Recession and continued high joblessness, you have not only reneged on your duties as a senator or congressman but are engaging in traitorous behavior.
If that seems over the top, consider the most stripped down definition for traitor: Someone who betrays one's country. If that is not exactly what the Republicans are doing, what is it that they are doing? Because in times of crises, as our greatest political leaders have told us down through the centuries, country comes before party.
If the Republicans continue their intransigence past the November 23 deadline, the consequences will be dire for both country and, I predict, the GOP.
There will be a massive sequestration of federal funds, including an across-the-board, $1.2 trillion cut in spending, which includes $454 billion from defense programs that the Republicans claim to heart.
Yes, President Obama is vulnerable in 2012, but for every traitorous Republican in Washington there are a million Americans out on the hustings that can see through the smoke and mirrors thrown up by a gang for whom coddling Wall Street and the rich has become an art form while they figuratively urinate on the middle class, the elderly, the infirm and the poor.
Just as the 2010 election was a referendum on the president and his policies, the 2012 election may well be a referendum on Republican obstructionism.