No “Government of National Salvation” This Time

At Wonkblog this morning, Ezra Klein considers the possibility of another global economic crisis driven by a possible Greek withdrawal from the eurozone, and then notes the official GOP announcement that it will block all judicial nominations until the end of the year. It makes him wonder:

This is related to something called the “Thurmond rule,” which Manu Raju at Politico explains is an “informal rule [that] holds that sitting presidents should not get Senate votes on lifetime appointments to the bench in the months leading up to a presidential election.” If there was some evidence that this really would be limited to lifetime judicial appointments, then fine: The aftermath of the euro zone break-up doesn’t require any lifetime appointments. But combined with everything else we’ve seen from the House and Senate in recent months, I take it as further evidence that Congress would strongly prefer to do nothing until the next president is elected. That’s not comforting at a moment when a lot might need to be done before the next president is elected.

Remember: The financial crisis also came a few months before a presidential election. In that case, the Obama campaign and congressional Democrats joined with the Bush administration to pass the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 and TARP. If similar cooperation is needed this year, is there any real chance that we’ll get it?

Nope. I don’t know if congressional Republicans would publicly cheer a really bad economic turn by dancing around the Capitol signing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.” But they are not about to lift a finger to help the Obama administration. Aside from the considerations of simple partisanship, I am increasingly convinced that most conservatives don’t really much care about the performance of the economy one way or another. They have an agenda they want to implement. It never, ever really changes regardless of economic circumstances, which simply require different rhetorical packaging rather than any modification of the central tenets of smaller and less charitable government, lower high-end taxes, and state intervention to bring back as much of the patriarchal family system as is possible.

If another percentage point of unemployment enabled Republicans to elect two more Senate members and get closer to the ability to pass any legislation they wanted, do you think most conservative activists–who believe, or say they believe, that Obama is an avid proponent of genocide (legalized abortion) who hates God Himself–are going to do anything to ameliorate it? Of course not. Let’s hope we don’t need some “government of national salvation” any time soon, because we aren’t getting it.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.