GOP Civil War: Attack of the Dems

The Democrats may ruin a perfectly good civil war among the GOP if they don't stop these character attacks. Photo: Capitol/ AP

WASHINGTON October 23, 2013  Democrats were able to pull off a stunning and complete victory over the Republicans last week with the ending of the partial government shutdown and the expansion of the debt ceiling. With one fell swoop they defeated the last and best chance the Republicans had at defunding or hampering Obamacare, and managed to start a GOP civil war. It was a masterful move, executed by a skilled politician in President Obama, and it has set the GOP back and hurt many of their election prospects.

However, all of that work, and all of that maneuvering may be all for naught.

The strategy of letting the GOP devour itself, or at least damage its credibility, only works if the Democrats can manage to do one thing:

Shut up and stay out of it.

But of course they couldn’t do that, and they are in danger of undoing one of the most resounding and triumphant victories since Obama’s reelection.

It is simple strategy, and the Democrats got the first part down pat. Start a fire in the enemy camp, and sit back and watch it burn. All the Democrats had to do was…nothing. All they had to do was go about getting their laws passed and running the country, while the GOP undermined their own credibility.

SEE RELATED: The GOP civil war: Pregame predictions

But no.

Instead of laying low and letting it burn, the Democrats have decided to lob attacks at the GOP. The first major one came just a few days ago when Florida District 9 Representative compared the Tea Party to the KKK. The second cherry bomb came in the form of an accusation by Dick Durbin, Illinois Senator, that in a meeting concerning the Obamacare website, Speaker Boehner told President Obama “I cannot even stand to look at you.”

Alright, first up is the KKK reference. You know that friend of yours at the bar who keeps shouting over the shoulder of his larger friend at the guys you just got into a fight with? That yappy guy who will not shut up no matter what happens? That is who this KKK reference made the Dems look like. All the Democrats have to do was let the bouncers take the other group away and not say anything, but Grayson ran his mouth and now he has conveniently provided the GOP with a common enemy. Comparing a group of small government supporters to a group of bed sheet wearing white supremacists while the GOP is currently engaged in attacking one another is counterproductive.

Then there is the “I cannot even stand to look at you” comment. Not only did it force Boehner to respond to the accusation directly, prying him away from intra-party endeavors, it makes the Democrats look petty and immature. Not only does it make them look petty and immature, the President of the United States even came out and denied that that phrase ever saw the light of day in his presence. So now it is evident that there is fracture among the DNC, providing American voters a rare glimpse into the Democratic wolf pack, where one of the pack wolves just got put back in his place by the all powerful Alpha, President Obama. When the President, who is the head of your party, comes out and basically calls you a liar you know you have messed up, and the DNC stumbled momentarily, momentarily.

The problem with these attacks on the GOP is that they provide them with a common enemy. It is like when someone outside a group of friends calls someone within the group a name in the middle of an argument they were having, and then the group turns around from calling each other the worst possible names just to turn on the outsider for having the audacity to be so presumptuous.

And it’s not as if they need the attacks in the first place. It was recently announced that President Obama has agreed to delay the individual mandate for Obamacare for six weeks. Well alright then, the Democrats don’t even have to try anymore, even though delaying the individual mandate was one of the tenants of the GOP demands of the Shutdown, and even though it was rejected, media will call the move to delay skillful and effective statesmanship and praise the DNC’s willingness to work with Republicans. The Republicans will accuse the President of stealing their idea, and the DNC will respond with “we were not going to negotiate with you while you held the country hostage.”

In short, the DNC needs to keep itself focused on making forward progress while the GOP resolves its little power struggle that could potentially redefine the Republican party. Things like coming to terms with a need to delay the mandate are the moves they need to be making. Things like comparing the Tea Party to the KKK or making up statements that the President himself denies only forces the GOP to respond to a common enemy. If the Democrats want to continue to capitalize on the gains they made from the Shutdown, they need to focus on policy, rather than character attacks. Otherwise, they are just shooting themselves in the foot and uniting the Republicans against them and ruining a perfectly good intra-party civil war. 


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Conor Higgins

Conor Higgins has a B.A. from Catholic University in DC in American History, with a concentration on guerrilla warfare on American soil. He has an M.A. in US History from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, with a concentration on Cold War insurgency. He believes that all news and all information should be taken with a grain of salt, and implores people everywhere to seek news stories everywhere. 

Higgins is also a fervent believer in the traditional role of media, in terms of acting as a balanced check on government policies and individuals regardless of party affiliation. But in the end, he believes that no matter how heated an issue is, there is nothing that can't be discussed over a smoke and some whiskey. 

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