As shutdown goes on, Republicans find no escape
“Box canyon” is the term of art these days, being thrown around by people who don’t know a canyon from a cannoli, for what the Republicans have created for themselves — and, incidentally, for the country.
Having spent a fair amount of time in the West chasing cows around canyons and coulees, I admit the term is apt. But it doesn’t go far enough.
Congress didn’t wander into the canyon by itself. It was pushed.
Cows are logical in some atavistic, instinctive way. They stay away from trouble and follow the easiest, safest path.
I remember being chewed out by a Montana rancher for running his cows in circles. “You’ve got to give them an escape route, a place to go,” he said. “You were standing right where you needed them to move. You’re running dollars right out of my checkbook, and these cows will be hell to move the next time. They’ll be pissed off for a week.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (with cynical help from Heritage Action and Club for Growth) has run the Republican cows of the U.S. House of Representatives into a place with no escape route. In the process, he’s created a lot of chaos, and he’s running dollars right out of the country’s checkbook.
When cows are handled badly, they hurt themselves and others.
Which brings me to the staggering hypocrisy of Randy Neugebauer, Republican representative of the 19th Congressional District in the panhandle of Texas.
Hoping to score some political points, Neugebauer visited the World War II Memorial, where earlier in the week veterans from the Greatest Generation made headlines by pushing past barriers to visit the memorial they came to Washington to see.
When Neugebauer saw a young Park Service employee reminding people the memorial was closed because of the shutdown, he was caught on video berating the employee, who was still on the job, but will not be paid until Neugebauer and his colleagues do their jobs.
“The Park Service should be ashamed,” he said. “I’m not ashamed,” the worker said quietly.
“You should be!” snapped Neugebauer.
No, congressman, you should be.
Meanwhile, as Politico reported, the cowpuncher himself was getting barbecued at a lunch with his GOP Senate colleagues.
“It was very evident to everyone in the room that Cruz doesn’t have a strategy. He kept trying to change the subject. It’s pretty evident it’s never been about a strategy — it’s been about him,” one senator said. “I just wish the 35 House members that have bought the snake oil ... could witness what was witnessed today.”
Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana is one of those, and he is one PO’d bovine.
“We’re not going to be disrespected,” Stutzman said Wednesday. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
No exit strategy, no escape route.
By Thursday, Stutzman realized what he had said, and tried to walk it back: “Yesterday, I carelessly misrepresented the ongoing budget debate,” Stutzman said.
But the facts surround him, like canyon walls.
David McCumber is Washington bureau chief of Hearst Newspapers.