Pete Sessions compares the Republican obstructionist position concerning the stimulus bill to the insurgency of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Really, he did! Well, we successfully pinned the “culture of corruption” tag on the GOP a few years ago, and Sessions opens us up to coining another tag. How about “The American Talibanskis?”
Commentary By: Steven Reynolds
Pete Sessions is a a Representative from Texas. Waco. Maybe that explains it. He’s also Chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee. The other day he likened the House resistance to the stimulus plan to Taliban insurgency. I’m thinking there are no lessons one wants to learn from the Taliban, but Sessions went there, really he did. From Hotline:
Frustrated by a lack of bipartisan outreach from House Democratic leaders, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said House Republicans – who voted unanimously last week against the economic plan pushed by President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – will pitch a “positive, loyal opposition” to the proposal. The group, he added, should also “understand insurgency” in implementing efforts to offer alternatives.
“Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban,” Sessions said during a meeting yesterday with Hotline editors. “And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person’s entire processes. And these Taliban – I’m not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban. No, that’s not what we’re saying. I’m saying an example of how you go about [sic] is to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their frontline message. And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with.”
What this is is a pouty Republican whine gone wrong. No, I don’t think Sessions means that the Republican Party is just like the Taliban, but it is clear he has learned the lessons of the Taliban, lessons the Bush Administration did not learn, thus failing to wipe them out. Maybe Sessions sees himself as a glorious freedom fighter who when he takes charge will force women into bhurkas. Heck, I don’t know. The guy really pulled a stupid one here.
But this really is just a whine. His poor party was not invited to control the legislation. Barack Obama invited all sorts of Republican leaders to the White House, travelled to and made unprecedented trips to the House and Senate to consult with Republicans, and Sessions is whining that he and his fellow insurgents couldn’t control the election. Hey, maybe if they hadn’t supported Bush as he trashed the constitution, ran up record budget deficits, ruined the economy (I could go on), then Sessions and his cohorts wouldn’t have lost so many seats in the House and Senate. After all, that’s the real reason they aren’t controlling the legislative agenda. That’s how it works in our democracy, after all, the ones who got the votes run things. Hey, Pete – tough!
But let’s be clear. Sessions’ statements about running his Party as if it were the Afghanistan-based Taliban insurgency is in fact the new core value of the Republican Party. Obstruction is the word of the day, and has become the core ethic for the GOP. As Eric Cantor describes it, it is the political strategy of “Just say NO!” Here it is from the Washington Post:
Three months after their Election Day drubbing, Republican leaders see glimmers of rebirth in the party’s liberation from an unpopular president, its selection of its first African American chairman and, most of all, its stand against a stimulus package that they are increasingly confident will provide little economic jolt but will pay off politically for those who oppose it.
After giving the package zero votes in the House, and 0with their counterparts in the Senate likely to provide in a crucial procedural vote today only the handful of votes needed to avoid a filibuster, Republicans are relishing the opportunity to make a big statement. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) suggested last week that the party is learning from the disruptive tactics of the Taliban, and the GOP these days does have the bravado of an insurgent band that has pulled together after a big defeat to carry off a quick, if not particularly damaging, raid on the powers that be.
“We’re so far ahead of where we thought we’d be at this time,” said Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), one of several younger congressmen seeking to lead the party’s renewal. “It’s not a sign that we’re back to where we need to be, but it’s a sign that we’re beginning to find our voice. We’re standing on our core principles, and the core principle that suffered the most in recent years was fiscal conservatism and economic liberty. That was the tallest pole in our tent, and we took an ax to it, but now we’re building it back.”
The second-ranking House Republican, Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), put it more bluntly. “What transpired . . . and will give us a shot in the arm going forward is that we are standing up on principle and just saying no,” he said.
We succeeded in the last several years in attaching the phrase “culture of corruption” to the GOP brand. Now it is time to find a new phrase. The “Architects of Obstruction?” There’s a good one. But I’m thinking you all can do better. Think of it as thinking up a band name for a punk rock group. It has to be offensive and descriptive at the same time. “The American Talibanskis” might be a good name. But I’m never any good at this. You all feel free to come up with some suggestions, willya?