Mighty America Descends Into Farce

Paralyzing GOP tactics make us look like 18th-century Poland
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2010 8:20 AM CST
Mighty America Descends Into Farce
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., ranking member of the Finance Committee, speaks to the media outside the West Wing of the White in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008.   (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

When Richard Shelby put a hold on all outstanding Obama nominees last week, it reminded Paul Krugman of 18th-century Poland. Back then, the country’s legislature was run by unanimous consent, so anyone could block any legislation by shouting, “I do not allow!” Sound familiar? The US Senate, too, works on unanimous consent, which worked out okay before the Republicans “descended into nihilism, seeing no harm—in fact, political dividends—in making the nation ungovernable.”

“It’s so bad that I miss Newt Gingrich,” writes Krugman in the New York Times. At least when Gingrich shut down the government, he had specific demands. Today’s Republicans refuse to offer any. They rant about the deficit, then block any attempts to reduce it. And Democrats are so hapless that they can’t even score political points off that obstructionism. Faced with Shelby’s move, Robert Gibbs went “straight for the capillaries,” accusing the senator of “silliness.” “Yep, that will really resonate with voters.” (More Richard Shelby stories.)

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