On "Fox News Sunday" over the weekend, former Bush/Cheney White House Press Secretary Dana Perino made a prediction. If congressional Republicans follow through on their threats and shut down much of the Department of Homeland Security next week, "they will get blamed by the White House, by the media, by Democrats."
George Will added, in reference to Republican lawmakers, "(A) Yes, they're always blamed; but (B) in this case, they deserve to be blamed."
The public seems to agree.
Republicans in Congress would shoulder the blame for a shutdown at the Department of Homeland Security if they are unable to enact a new spending bill to keep the agency running, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. The survey finds 53% of Americans would blame the Republicans in Congress if the department must shut down, while 30% would blame President Barack Obama. Another 13% say both deserve the blame. [...]A majority says a shutdown at DHS, even if it's just for a few days, would be a crisis or a major problem.
We're left with a familiar scenario: Republican lawmakers are careening towards a bad idea; they know they'll be blamed for executing the bad idea; but they can't seem to stop themselves from doing the wrong thing. Indeed, by all appearances, they're not even trying at this point to fix the problem they created for themselves.
As this mess moves forward, there are a couple of angles to keep in mind. The first is the one we talked about this morning: in theory, a right-wing judge in Texas just offered GOP lawmakers an off-ramp. By blocking implementation of the president's immigration policy, at least for now, Republicans could fund DHS and count on their judicial allies to do the heavy lifting.
The second, which is often overlooked, is that Republicans learned some dangerous lessons in 2013. Specifically, GOP lawmakers discovered that they can shut down important government operations, for no good reason, and face no adverse consequences whatsoever. If Republicans gut Homeland Security in 2015, the right may very well assume that voters won't remember any of this in 2016.
Where's the incentive for responsible governing when irresponsible governing goes unpunished? As far as far-right lawmakers are concerned, the combination of gerrymandering, super PACs, apathy, obsessive media "balance," and short memories effectively inoculates them against any possible voter backlash, freeing the Republican Congress to do as it pleases.
Is it any wonder GOP lawmakers don't seem to be in a rush to fix this mess before it's too late?