When the saboteur’s shoe fits…

This morning, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the third highest-ranking Democrat in the chamber, issued a media advisory, letting reporters know about a news conference he’d host. The headline said Schumer would point to “fresh questions about whether GOP is out to tank economy on purpose for political gain.”

In other words, the New York Democrat was prepared to triple down on the “sabotage” line he’s been brave enough to trumped.

And sure enough, Schumer, once again, went there.

On a conference call Friday morning, another reporter asked Schumer whether he believes the GOP’s committing sabotage (my words, not the reporter’s). Here’s his response.

“It’s a thought you just don’t want to believe in, because that would be [horrible],” Schumer said. “But every day they keep giving us more and more evidence that there’s no choice but to answer the question ‘yes.’ They give us no choice but to come to that conclusion.”

Pointing to trade deals GOP senators first demanded and then blocked, Schumer added, “Republicans took us down the rabbit hole once again…. Are Republicans opposing yet another measure they once supported simply because that measure might be good for the economy?”

As Greg Sargent explained, “The key point here is that Dem messaging chief Schumer is signaling that each example like this will now be pressed into service to build the larger case that Republicans have decided that a worse economy for the country is better politically for them, so any measure that risks creating jobs must be opposed at all costs.”

Also note the GOP response, or in this case, the lack thereof. Schumer’s increasingly-provocative allegations are, to a certain extent, shocking. The senator is suggesting it’s at least possible that the Republican Party is so radical and filled with hate, the GOP would deliberately hurt the country in the hopes it would lead to partisan gains. In other words, one of Congress’ most prominent Democrats has effectively accused Republicans of trying to sabotage the nation’s economy.

To put it mildly, Republican officials aren’t saying much about this at all.. No calls for an apology, no shrieks, no outrage, no apoplexy.

And why not? Because to do so would be to engage in the very debate the GOP is desperate to avoid. Once there’s a conversation, and the question enters the political bloodstream, the American mainstream is confronted with the possibility that the Republican Party cares more about their election strategy than our well being.

The debate, however, is starting to occur anyway. In his column today, Paul Krugman noted, “[I]t’s hard to avoid the suspicion that G.O.P. leaders actually want the economy to perform badly.” Last night, Rachel Maddow asked Eugene Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize winner, whether it’s possible Republicans would sabotage the economy. “Well, let me be honest,” he said. “It has occurred to me that this is a possibility.”

Eugene, you’re not the only one.