What Saxby Chambliss and Ronald Reagan have in common

WASHINGTON — For the crime of attempted compromise, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) is being hounded by a furious Republican right-wing that considers civil conversation with Democrats a suggestion of weakness, if not a sign of outright  capitulation. Though Chambliss has spent years in service to conservative causes, his membership in the now-fracturing Gang of Six — a bi-partisan group of senators who have attempted to hammer out a deal on the federal deficit — has subjected him to harsh criticism among ultra-conservative purists.

For his work on deficit reduction and for other alleged heresies, Chambliss has earned the ire of Erick Erickson, a hyper-conservative Georgia blogger and talk radio host, who wants to defeat the senator in 2014. “Tea party activists in Georgia who want to make a big impact have two years to organize, mobilize, and lay the groundwork to get rid of Saxby Chambliss . . .Now, why Saxby?. . .Saxby has consistently stabbed conservatives in the back and it is time to take him out,” Erickson wrote earlier this month.

Chambliss is not a man you’d mistake for a moderate. He  opposes allowing gays to serve openly in the military, opposes reproductive rights and dutifully serves the National Rifle Association. Still, he has been openly rebuked for daring to enter discussions that might lead to a deal with Democrats. (Let me emphasize “might.” Now that Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, another conservative Republican, has dropped out of the Gang of Six, the odds of a deal have plummeted.)

This is what it has come to: A fundamental principle of democratic governance — negotiating with political opponents in good faith — has come under attack from an irrational ultra-conservative base that demands its own way while claiming to champion the U.S. Constitution. They dismiss the democratic process if it produces a result they oppose. They denounce tyranny — unless it is in service of their own ideals.

Let Rush Limbaugh say what he will, there is simply no similar force on the political left. Liberals have their fringe lunatics, of course. Recently, the usually-respectable, if always ultra-liberal, Princeton professor Cornel West fired several crazed volleys at President Barack Obama — condescendingly dismissing him as a “centrist” and labeling him, more or less, an Uncle Tom.

But Obama gives his party’s radical elements a subtle third-finger salute. He’s a pragmatist dedicated to cutting the best deal he can get, even if it means setting aside a campaign pledge or two. And it’s unlikely he will get so much as a primary challenge for it because of his broad appeal among Democrats.

The climate is a lot more hostile to the ideals of cooperation and compromise on the other side of the aisle. Not even the sainted Ronald Reagan would have come up to the take-no-prisoners, brook-no-compromise standards of tea partiers, Limbaugh and the anti-tax radical Grover Norquist. Though conservatives try to airbrush these facts from history, they are, indeed, stubborn things: Reagan cut deals with Democrats to raise taxes — several times. During his presidency, business taxes were raised, the gas tax increased, Social Security taxes hiked.

Chambliss has refused to use the phrase “tax increase,” referring, instead, to “revenue increases.” Since taxes constitute, by far, the biggest source of revenue for the federal treasury, that means somebody’s taxes will go up. For Norquist, that’s a violation of conservative dogma.

The Republican Party is now held hostage to its fringe elements, a development that endangers us all. With a GOP-controlled House and a Senate barely in Democratic hands, Congress is whipsawed by the demands of an angry minority of tea partiers, paranoid conspiracy theorists, leftover John Birchers and anti-government cranks.

That’s why House Speaker John Boehner has moved from reasonable to rigid in his statements on raising the debt-ceiling: He is afraid of alienating the tea party forces in his caucus, who don’t seem at all concerned about the prospect of pushing a fragile economy over the edge into the abyss. Wall Street’s entreaties haven’t brought them around.

(Reagan would have run afoul of GOP radicals here, too. In 1983, he sent a letter to Howard Baker, then Senate Majority leader, urging the Senate to raise the debt ceiling and warning of “incalculable damage” if the U.S. defaulted on its debts for the first time in its history.)

Eventually, I’d guess, the Republican Party will come to its senses, relegate its fringe to Siberia and return to a platform that embraces reason, logic and cooperation. Unfortunately, the nation’s economy could be a smoldering ruin by then.

143 comments Add your comment

carlosgvv

May 20th, 2011
2:51 pm

Chambliss is a disgrace to his office and needs to resign immediately.

nice one

May 20th, 2011
3:09 pm

it’s called politics, it stinks, these guys/gals on both sides will do and say anything to get re-elected. Nothing you say is really wrong here CT Soros, but it’s not as enlightening an article as you might think.

Could you talk more about the Cornell West recent comments? It’s a slippery issue b/c of his once support now pot shots towards Obama. Does he have any good points in your mind or is it just sour grapes b/c he didn’t get the results out of his support of Obama in the 2008 election?

Aquagirl

May 20th, 2011
3:10 pm

The Republican party will come to its senses? You taking bets on that, CT?

TnGelding

May 20th, 2011
3:14 pm

They need to get the debt limit issue settled NOW! I’ve complimented Saxby several times recently for his reasonableness. Don’t forget, like Deal and Perdue, Reagan cut his teeth as a Democrat.

Darwin

May 20th, 2011
3:18 pm

The right wing is just scary.

retired early

May 20th, 2011
3:19 pm

We will see what the majority of Americans think about the Tea Party after they refuse to raise the debt ceiling and the stock market crashes. At a time when most people’s 401k’s are once again healthy, only to watch their dreams of retirement get flushed down the toilet. The GOP will self destruct. It is one think to back these lunatics polices, and quite another when one realizes that they are playing these political games with YOUR MONEY. But, like you said above…by then, it could be too late for us all.

dougmo2

May 20th, 2011
3:19 pm

“The Republican Party is now held hostage to its fringe elements.” – CT Soros

So are the democrats who want to tax everything except the air I breathe.

joe

May 20th, 2011
3:20 pm

If and this is a huge if, they debt ceiling were to be raised…has our current administration given ANY indication substantial spending cuts will be made? The answer to that is HEEEL NO. So, we’ll raise it and this time next year, we’ll have the same argument. So, why not save us billions in interest money and NOT raise it now. Force the feds to actually make the cuts necessary to save our currency and survive as a country. Don’t solely blame the GOP for this mess…the Dems are equally to blame…but at least the GOP or the Tea Party has the stones to actually fix this issue, whereas the Dems just keep on a’spendin…

Kamchak

May 20th, 2011
3:20 pm

Nothing you say is really wrong here CT Soros…

New thread, new BINGO cards.

Remember, you may only mark one “Soros” square per post.

Red

May 20th, 2011
3:27 pm

Sorry but Saxby is only showing his true roots. He has always been a southern Democrat with no intellectual capacity on his own. He had Karl Rove to guide him for 8 years. Now that Rove is gone Saxby falls back to his original role….good ol’ boy southern Democrat. And this is not his ‘leadership’ on an issue at all. It’s survival and staying significant because he knows if he had to rely on his own he could not. Pair yourself with a group of others on a cause to keep yourself relevant and like you actually have a clue. Game’s up now. Coburn left and the empty suit of Saxby shows. Saying he’s noble for working with the other side is a joke and giving him far more credit than he deserves. And comparing him to Reagan? Wow that’s reaching and grasping. Must be a slow news day or the fax line from DNC Talking Points must be broken.

Toby

May 20th, 2011
3:27 pm

Who would have thought this was the time the debt -ceiling couldn’t be raised, for he first time in history.

yuzeyurbrane

May 20th, 2011
3:28 pm

Cynthia, you are so correct. It is utterly absurd for conservatives to have any bone to pick with Chambliss. People like me find most of Saxby’s views to be abhorently right-wing. So I wonder what planet are these Teapartiers on who now rule Georgia and pack a lot of clout in D.C.? Of course, there have always been some around but they were considered fringe nut cases. Now, I don’t even know if they can be put back in the Pandora’s Box from which the mainstream Republicans released them. After all, they have announced that they will resort to their “2nd Amendment rights.”

Tommy Maddox

May 20th, 2011
3:32 pm

“…Obama gives his party’s radical elements a subtle third-finger salute.”

Is he facing a mirror?

Red

May 20th, 2011
3:32 pm

401k’s again are healthy? Wow. When many have had to cash out, others out of work, many more still not seeing the employers matching, I have no idea where that delusional statement came from. Just because the Dow is where it is doesn’t mean the rest of America matches. Funny how the Left uses a metric from the “evil Wall Street” to tell us that we’ve recovered.

nice one

May 20th, 2011
3:33 pm

Nice Bingo reference, really, noone can tell you are as old as dirt

JohnnyReb

May 20th, 2011
3:33 pm

Chicken Little – the debt ceiling must be raised, the debt ceiling must be raised ! Hogwash.

All little Timmy has to do is pay the bills first and then spend what’s left on must-have services/payments. Of course, the Left’s champion will have to change his budget, but then again, that’s the whole reason for the exercise.

Get out of the fast lane granpa

May 20th, 2011
3:37 pm

Soros pimps out CT, Kam has his nose so far up HER arse he hasn’t seen daylight in years, so that makes Kam’s credibility equal to a ho’s sphincter.

Now let someone else at the nursing home use the computer before nap time.

Kamchak

May 20th, 2011
3:37 pm

really, noone[sic] can tell you are as old as dirt

Funny, that’s not what your girlfriend said last night.

JohnnyReb

May 20th, 2011
3:38 pm

BTW ladies and gentlemen; if you did not see the BeBe/Obama news conference today, take a look. If you can’t spot the real leader in the room, here’s a hint. He has grey hair and basically shows the other guy what true leadership looks like.

More lies from CT

May 20th, 2011
3:40 pm

Reagan never had control of Congress like Obama did. Everything the kooks point to about Reagan as a negative was thanks to the Socialist left that controlled Congress during his 8 years.

Btw Cynthia, can you cite a single post by you, ever, complaining about the left being unwilling to compromise? Why do the kooks only demand that the sane right do all the bending over?

Rafe Hollister

May 20th, 2011
3:40 pm

Saxby needs to head on back to Moultrie and hang with his farm subsidy and illegal immigrant loving agricultural buddies. He is the King down there, bringing home the bacon for the big farmers and keeping them with low paid illegal workers.

Comprise with the Dems is always on their terms. Here agree with me and we will say we have bipartisan support. We did not get any compromise on Obamacare, the Stimulus, and other things passed during the first two years of the Obama Regime, so why should we compromise now, when it looks like a Republican takeover of the Senate and a stronger Republican House in 2012.

We need to raise the debt ceiling but only after we have made some perminant spending cuts that will insure that it never needs raising again, or we fall back into the same ole predicament.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

May 20th, 2011
3:40 pm

Nice Bingo reference, really, noone can tell you are as old as dirt

Old as dirt? Why I have seen many call Kam a child in his mother’s basement.

You’re going to hate the chutes and ladder references.

Long balls

May 20th, 2011
3:46 pm

Kam – your take on the Cornell West commnets? Dare you form your own opinion before CT elaborates on HER opinion on the matter?

Didn’t think so

Long balls

May 20th, 2011
3:47 pm

good burn Kam, but my girlfriend is not an asian sex worker, so I’m pretty sure she wasn’t in your basement.
I forgot to point out how you are also an imaginary newspaper editor too witht the anal typo correcting and the use of [sic] all the time. who does that anymore?

retired early

May 20th, 2011
3:48 pm

Red

I did not say “everything” is rosy. The Dow has risen from 6500 in 2007 to 12500 today…almost doubled. Retiree do not have the luxury of time to once again have their 401K rebound from another disastrous crash. Those people will indeed be PISSED.

George Soros

May 20th, 2011
3:48 pm

2 extra gerbils for Kammie Poo, my most useful idiot

Long balls

May 20th, 2011
3:49 pm

so oyu don’t agree or disagree with his commnets…way to play it safe….i left a typo for you to fix btw

Kamchak

May 20th, 2011
3:49 pm

– your take on the Cornell West commnets[sic]?

Don’t really care.

Mr. West is entitled to speak is mind, like any other citizen of this country.

Polydent breath

May 20th, 2011
3:51 pm

i’m bored with you Kam, you need some new material, soros, soros, soros, soros, soros

A Lumpkin Resident

May 20th, 2011
3:52 pm

Anyone who reads these comments knows I am a conservative. But Senator Chambliss is right about this. Nothing is off the table. Not cuts to the military, cuts to medicare, cuts to SS, nor raising taxes. A combination of spending cuts AND tax increases will be necessary to put our budget and deficit in order. Demanding one (spending cuts) without the other (revenue increases) and vice versa is folly. Eliminate all corporate tax deductions, lower corporate tax rates, level the playing field. Cut military spending by HALF, raise the SS age by one year, lower the proposed Medicare voucher change (Paul Ryan’s) to age 48 or less. Reign in government pay and pensions. There is a LOT that can be done on both side of the equation, and it is going to take a lot of compromise.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

May 20th, 2011
3:52 pm

the sock puppets are en masse today I see!

brad

May 20th, 2011
3:52 pm

Any Southpark fans here? Super episode last night exploring the relationship between small penis size and conservative anger.

Get Real

May 20th, 2011
3:52 pm

retired early….then you need to be focused on the tax and spend democrats, not the republicans…

cartman

May 20th, 2011
3:55 pm

brad – didn’t see it, when you say conservitive anger, do you mean anger at conservatives or anger from conservatives?

Keep Up the Good Fight!

May 20th, 2011
3:55 pm

yeah, cause South Park is very conservative….I’m sure it was a jab at liberals………

dfiubsadfigimj

May 20th, 2011
3:56 pm

Keep – that first ‘t’ should be capitalized, this is a respctable blog, take more time to correct your typos next time please.

Junior Samples

May 20th, 2011
4:00 pm

Serves him right for the campaign he ran against Max Cleland.
Karma…

Thulsa Doom

May 20th, 2011
4:07 pm

Chambliss is not a man you’d mistake for a moderate. He opposes allowing gays to serve openly in the military, opposes reproductive rights and dutifully serves the National Rifle Association. -CT

This is the funniest thing about Cynthia and what makes her so nutty and loony left. Her mind is convinced that if you oppose abortion or gay rights that you are “fringe” right wing. How is that fringe when half the country thinks abortion is wrong and more than half the country opposes gay rights? Why do I believe that? Well heck in California which is a very liberal state they voted against gay marriage in a national referendum last year. You need some help with your critical thinking skills Cynthia. If half the nation thinks abortion is wrong and the majority of people in a liberal state are against gay marriage then those are moderate positions not fringe right wing. Good grief.

brad

May 20th, 2011
4:08 pm

Anger from, Cartman.

Thulsa Doom

May 20th, 2011
4:12 pm

On any given day the over under on when a liberal says “sock puppets” on a blog is 50 comments or less. Today they did it in 30 something comments.

Atlantan

May 20th, 2011
4:13 pm

I’m still waiting got CT’s column about all of the ObamaCare exemptions received by his corporate cronies and all the good Pelosi supporters in her district. Wow talk about inconsistent hypocrites.

Over the weekend we’ll see if pigs fly or something freezes over……………………

Billybob, aka 'tucker translator'

May 20th, 2011
4:18 pm

It’s funny to see how quickly you added another post after the meeting at the white house today……huseein looked foolish and once again he was the most un-informed person in the room….FYI, your facts were wrong and trying to lie about the republicans having obama’s view before obama spoke yesterday and gave his same’ view does not pass the smell test…..this was the line in dozens of papers today by all your far left wing opinion writers…..you are disingenous at best and I will point this out as often as I can……

Some people are stupid

May 20th, 2011
4:19 pm

Thulsa-

I don’t think she was saying opposing gay rights and abortion make you fringe. She was comparing him to the left position and said he wouldn’t be mistaken for a moderate..I think you read a little to much into that.

Now to the other points..more than half oppose gay rights..i find that a little hard to believe..especially from just typing in a google search of polls. “For First Time, Majority of Americans Favor Legal Gay Marriage

On abortion, The only polls i saw said 51% are against it…or technically pro-life. You do realize you can be both pro-life and pro-choice.

cartman

May 20th, 2011
4:19 pm

brad – you see the humancentipad episode or worse yet, have you seen that movie? Without a doubt the most gnarly bit of filmaking I’ve ever seen, i have trouble even speaking about it. You gotta see it if you haven’t already….guaranteed to be horrified to your core

Ragnar Danneskjöld

May 20th, 2011
4:24 pm

Good afternoon all. Our hostess accurately recognizes the difference between the two competing ideologies. Conservatives broadly believe “freedom” is the highest good, a virtue to be preserved and extended when possible. The leftists generally magnify “democracy,” the wisdom of the collective as superior to mere freedom. Thus the irreconcilable conflict. I stand with those who value freedom first.

Billybob, aka 'tucker translator'

May 20th, 2011
4:26 pm

“They dismiss the democratic process if it produces a result they oppose”
This is what the Democrats did in Wisconsin, not what republicans do….you are projecting onto the repubs what the dems ACTUALLY did just a few months ago…..you are a far left radical lib and since 2007 your far left radical wing of the dem party had been in control, until nov…reid, pelosi, and hussein have been the poorest leaders our country has ever seen with the ‘chosen one’ leading the sheep. For every reaction there is an opposite and equal reaction…..Nov. was the start of that opposite reaction and I hope you enjoy reaping what your ideology sowed…..

brad

May 20th, 2011
4:34 pm

Yes, I saw the humancentipad episode…that was pretty out there :) . Haven’t seen the movie.

brad

May 20th, 2011
4:37 pm

Billybob: Like that democratic process in the 2000 election?

Small penis alert.

iiiiiiiiiiiiii9j9ub9hb

May 20th, 2011
4:37 pm

Ragnar – well said – what’s to be said for those who don’t stand with either party, but put the actual issues themsleves first? That in my opinion is where self-thinking people should stand. Otherwise, you just become an unpaid re-election worker.

Billybob, aka 'tucker translator'

May 20th, 2011
4:39 pm

Absolutely like that democratic process that ran its course al the way through the supreme court and fairly elected Bush. Your last comment speaks for itself and you….