My American Spectator column today is all about what happened yesterday, which was a classic case of Stupid Party Republicanism.
We keep hoping for the Washington Generals to finally fold up shop on Capitol Hill. Having a decades-long pristine record of political defeats at the hands of the Harlem Globetrotters, after all, can’t be sustainable.
And it isn’t. The Washington Generals are a dying franchise.
But when the Generals sent their starting five of Mitt Romney, Bill Cassidy, Rob Portman, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski to take on the Globetrotters at the White House Thursday, it was clear they had one more defeat left in them.
Which they inflicted on us by agreeing to an “infrastructure” package worth just under a trillion dollars. The Globetrotters win again, even with a should-be dementia patient coaching their side (or at least eating the pudding from the fridge in the locker room).
And specifically, how dumb it was for Bill Cassidy and his four Washington Generals teammates to do that deal…
Consider the week the Biden administration has been having. Hell, consider the month!
There was a failed summit with Vladimir Putin, which utterly humiliated the country. There was the rolling disaster of Kamala Harris and the border, something the administration had to capitulate on. There were the plummeting popularity ratings. There was the inevitable, but nevertheless catastrophic collapse of the “For the People Act” due to a Republican filibuster. There was the suspect economic performance and soaring inflation. There was the defeat in federal court of Biden’s ban on oil and gas leasing on federal lands. There is the mounting public outcry against critical race theory (more on that below). There is even the fact that Biden made a vague threat to use nuclear weapons on the American people Wednesday while having to address out-of-control crime in cities being run by Democrats (and, of course, the answer is to take guns away from the law-abiding, presumably like this guy).
By Thursday Biden was clearly desperate for some good news to offset a growing public perception that his administration is foundering.
Meaning Biden needed this infrastructure deal a whole lot more than any Republicans in the Senate did. And House and Senate Democrats, who look more and more like an endangered species, certainly needed it more.
Not because they need “infrastructure,” mind you. If these people actually needed “infrastructure” in their states and districts they would have done a deal with President Trump years ago when he was asking for one, and the fruits of that deal would be falling from the political tree now.
No, what they needed was a break in the negative momentum.
Besides, the “infrastructure” was always there for the taking. Biden and his Democrat allies on the Hill have been cooking up a budget reconciliation piece that would blow the bottom out of our fiscal ship, with trillions of dollars in swag not just for roads and bridges but lots of other things that you have to be a slimy liar like Kirsten Gillibrand to consider as “infrastructure.” And the Republicans can’t filibuster that.
So the point isn’t that if the Washington Generals hadn’t come to the table there would be no “infrastructure” deal. It was always there, and it was always going to happen sooner or later.
The point was not to give these people a political victory without exacting a price for it.
And where is that price?
If the price had been to demand Biden forego his trillions for “infrastructure” — like Gillibrand said with a straight face, that now includes free taxpayer-funded child care — in return for this deal, it would qualify as getting some sort of consideration for giving him this win. But nope — Biden said just after the “bipartisan” press conference that he won’t accept this deal unless he gets the reconciliation piece as well.
This is your Stupid Party at work. And don’t come to me with “But muh bridges.” You’re getting those anyway, because the bridges connect cities run by Democrats.
It’s obvious Cassidy didn’t see any of that. Here he was just after the little press conference…
Building bridges, restoring our coast line, creating jobs, and delivering on infrastructure for Louisiana. pic.twitter.com/cfdo91CpO8
— U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (@SenBillCassidy) June 24, 2021
You heard that right. A Republican senator crowing about the largest infrastructure deal in the history of the American government.
Barely more than an hour after that dog-and-pony show where Cassidy got to show off his snappy seersucker suit, Biden essentially repudiated the compromise by saying he wouldn’t sign off on it unless he got the reconciliation piece with every other BS thing in it that the Republicans oppose. And even then Cassidy’s office put this out…
U.S. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and 20 colleagues issued the following statement alongside their bipartisan infrastructure framework:
“Today, we’re proud to advance this bipartisan proposal to make a historic investment in America’s critical infrastructure needs, advance cleaner technologies, create jobs, and strengthen American competitiveness, without raising taxes. This agreement shows that the two parties can still come together, find common ground, and get things done that matter to everyday Americans. We are happy to have President Biden’s support, and will now get to work enlisting the support of colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”
Additional Senators signing onto the statement and framework include Richard Burr (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN).
Guess who wasn’t there at the White House, though, or on the expanded Washington Generals’ roster announced in that statement.
And why? Because Kennedy isn’t stupid enough to keep falling for these pig-in-a-poke deals.
The presence of that reconciliation bill should be suitable to kill any interest by Republicans in compromising on infrastructure.
Where were all these Democrats who now want to play “bipartisan” when Donald Trump was in the White House for the last four years and begging for an infrastructure bill? Nowhere. They want to be “bipartisan” now, when they’re in a position to get everything they want with no cost to them whatsoever.
And Bill Cassidy and the rest of the Washington Generals just can’t wait to rush in and forgive it all, in the name of “getting something done.”
The thing is, Kennedy has been a politician for a long time and he understands these things. He also understands negotiation in a political context, and he understands how Democrats think.
Cassidy, and the people advising him – his wife key among them, because if you talk to Cassidy’s former staff they’ll tell you she’s probably more the senior senator from Louisiana than Cassidy is – absolutely does not. He’s a sheep amid wolves. He thinks he’s doing an awesome job and he can’t understand what everybody’s complaining about.
You don’t do deals with Democrats unless you get paid up front. If they haven’t exhausted their credit with you, you’re a mark. And Cassidy is a mark.
Unfortunately, the voters are the real marks, because Cassidy managed to convince us to re-elect him for a second term. That can’t happen again.