Chum in the Water

At the end of a post reciting the big moves “our bored, exhausted, disengaged president” has taken since the midterm elections, Kevin Drum makes an important point about what that means for next year:

All of these things are worthwhile in their own right, of course, but there’s a political angle to all of them as well: they seriously mess with Republican heads. GOP leaders had plans for January, but now they may or may not be able to do much about them. Instead, they’re going to have to deal with enraged tea partiers insisting that they spend time trying to repeal Obama’s actions. They can’t, of course, but they have to show that they’re trying. So there’s a good chance that they’ll spend their first few months in semi-chaos, responding to Obama’s provocations instead of working on their own agenda.

Case in point: Congressional Republicans are now going to have to spend significant time and energy in a Cold War battle with Obama over Cuba policy–one that is likely to end in failure, and that appeals only to a sliver of the U.S. population.

After all the interminable stuff we heard in 2014 about the Great Big Adult Republicans getting control over the unruly Tea Folk, I think we’ll find that Boehner and McConnell aren’t going to easily restrain conservatives with so much chum in the water. The provocation to a feeding frenzy is just becoming way too overpowering.

UPDATE: WaPo’s Greg Sargent makes the parallel case that Obama’s executive actions are framing the 2016 presidential elections in ways that tend to trap Republican candidates in the past.

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.