Does anyone else remember when U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, early in this term - his first - sent signals that he was no card-carrying Tea Party member? Running in a supposedly safe GOP district, he barely beat former county commission chairwoman Jennifer Roberts in 2012, although he outspent her by a large margin, so he needed all the support back home he could get. Gingerly approaching non-rightwing voters in his district, Pittenger said he wanted to lead a bipartisan group of freshmen members of Congress to find ways to work together to solve the country's pressing problems. In other words, the far-right wasn't going to rule ol' Bob, by God; he was going to get some practical things done. Well, as the old saying goes, that shit's over, and it's all due to the American right wing's increasingly pathological obsession with the Affordable Care Act.
In August, Pittenger ran into a Tea Party buzzsaw when he told a town hall meeting that he did not plan to vote to defund Obamacare. The FoxNews faithful, filled to the brim with their media heroes' lies and distortions, all but threatened to hang Pittenger for his apostasy. Lo and behold, when push came to shove, The Pit joined the crazies who are now running his party and he became part of the GOP's "Obamacare must go or we'll shut down the government" temper tantrum. As the country got closer to a government shutdown last night, Pittenger put out messages that he is completely on board the Goofball Train and, in fact, he resents the fact that Obama won't "compromise" with the GOP.
Here's the thing, though: there's nothing to compromise. Obamacare passed both houses of the national legislature, was signed by the president, and is now the law of the land, period. See, Tea Partiers, the way the U.S. government works is that once a bill becomes law, that's pretty much it. If you want the law to be repealed, nothing in the Constitution mentions legislative blackmail as an acceptable tactic. Here's how you do it: you elect more people who agree with you, including a president, and then you go through the legislative process to change or get rid of the law. Really, that's how you do it; you can look it up. So your idea of holding a law hostage - not holding a bill hostage, mind you, but an actual law - is, how shall I put this delicately? - batshit crazy. Poll after poll shows that the public disapproves of the Republicans' tactics, and by wide margins. Unfortunately for The Pit and other GOP reps that know their Tea Party cohorts are kind of nuts but who are going along with them anyhow, they've gotten themselves between the rock of public disapproval and the hard place of Tea Party intransigence. One thing for sure: the poll numbers will only look worse (much worse) if the GOP continues this insanity and continues their quixotic quest when debt ceiling time comes along. Will they really threaten to make the U.S. default, and thus throw the world economy into chaos? Or will House Speaker John "Orange Alert" Boehner finally grow a pair and put his monkeys back in their cages? Here's hoping for the latter, but if anyone's betting on it, I bet they push the crazy up another notch. At which point Bob Pittenger will probably have his career on the line.
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