Like a vine that keeps climbing higher

Ron Fournier asks:

Before I get to my answer of who broke Washington (which you can probably guess), let me do a little set-up. Maybe you’re a little more cool-headed than I am — that certainly wouldn’t surprise me — so maybe this way of thinking doesn’t work for you. Suppose that every time you had an argument for a while, you told the other person “fuck off”, and everyone agreed that both sides had done it and perhaps commented that this just showed the strength of your convictions, the unity of your caucus, and the fact that we live in a center-you nation. What would you do next? You might be emboldened to start slugging the other person in the face. And imagine that the reaction was all the more “both side do it”, center-you nation etc. If you were me, it might stop there — I was raised by totebaggers after all — but I’m not sure it would stop there for everyone, especially not for the sort of borderline sociopaths that national politics attracts.

I don’t know anything about the more violent and chaotic parts of the world, but I suspect that once people figure out they can stab/shoot whoever they want without negative repercussions and even be lauded as tough-minded principled Burkeans for stabbing/shooting….

So I think what broke Washington was the realization, on the part of much of the Republican party, especially its far right flank, that there would never be any negative consequences for anything it did, no matter how irresponsible and, yes, treasonous. Both sides do it, and if you do it harder, then that just proves this is a center-right nation. So why not default on the debt?

96 replies
  1. 1
    Mary G says:

    Is there any way to recall a member of Congress? Darrell Issa cannot be allowed to claim to represent me a minute longer.

  2. 2
    beltane says:

    If Ron Fournier wants an honest answer to his question, he could start by posting a selfie, along with mug shots of the rest of the wingnut-enabling Washington press corps.

  3. 3
    Scott S. says:

    Gee whiz, why do I suspect that Fournier’s column will just be “BOTH SIDES DID IT” repeated 500 times?

    I suppose if he really wants to get a bunch of clicks and invitations to great cocktail parties and “Meet the Press,” he can just repeat “DEMS ALWAYS AT FAULT” 500 times instead…

  4. 4
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    So I think what broke Washington was the realization, on the part of much of the Republican party, especially its far right flank, that there would never be any negative consequences for anything it did,

    I rather think it’s opposite. The embrace the negative consequences because it will make them martyrs for the cause and they think they will be vindicated in the long term. Remember these guys think Star Wars is speaking to them. With the Right it’s the means that count, not the end.

  5. 5
    NotMax says:

    All politicians play dirty.

    The Republicans play filthy.

  6. 6
    The Pale Scot says:

    Wow, this is luring me in to thinking abut getting a Tweattle account.

    Can you curse? Not in the bad words kinda way (well ya, that too), but in the Roma may your sons balls shrivel and yort daughters birth kittens etc kinda way?

  7. 7
    Doug Milhous J says:

    @The Pale Scot:

    I think so.

  8. 8
    Violet says:

    @beltane: Yep. This. Is there any way to recall our sad excuse for a press corps?

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    So I think what broke Washington was the realization, on the part of much of the Republican party, especially its far right flank, that there would never be any negative consequences for anything it did, no matter how irresponsible and, yes, treasonous.

    I think what broke Washington was the 2010 elections.

  10. 10
    Hill Dweller says:

    I refuse to read that tripe from Fournier, but the snippet seems to blame Harry Reid for starting the abuse of the filibuster. If that is in fact his claim, it is demonstrably false. The Republicans started the filibuster abuse in Clinton’s first term. Since Obama was elected, the Republicans have absolutely shattered all filibuster records.

  11. 11
    dmsilev says:

    Hmmm, let’s see if I can fit a response into a tweet’s worth: “You did, you and all your balance-obsessed narrative-loving false-equivalence colleagues in the political press.”

    112 characters. Plenty of room for a few extra fucks and so forth.

  12. 12
    ronin122 says:

    Doug is this evidence for why you think these “principled centrists/moderates/whatever (whether their title is true or not)” are more dangerous to the country than the far-right? I am starting to believe you. I mean, wackos exist in all places, but when the moderating influences decide “insane is a-okay because it comes from the heart” and there’s no repercussions to spouting lies and complete nonsense day-in-and-day-out. I mean, i guess the media SHOULD be tasked with that, but Chucky T disagrees with me and hey, a Democrat stretched the truth once, so BOTH SIDES DO IT!

  13. 13

    I think that is the flipside, or enabling factor, of the point made by Paul Krugman in his “Karl Rove’s America” column from 2005. Obviously, he also wrote quite a bit about the “shape of Earth: sides differ” media approach, but perhaps not in this column:

    What Mr. Rove understood, long before the rest of us, is that we’re not living in the America of the past, where even partisans sometimes changed their views when faced with the facts. Instead, we’re living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. …
    I first realized that we were living in Karl Rove’s America during the 2000 presidential campaign, when George W. Bush began saying things about Social Security privatization and tax cuts that were simply false. At first, I thought the Bush campaign was making a big mistake – that these blatant falsehoods would be condemned by prominent Republican politicians and Republican economists, especially those who had spent years building reputations as advocates of fiscal responsibility. In fact, with hardly any exceptions they lined up to praise Mr. Bush’s proposals. … But Mr. Rove understood that the facts were irrelevant. …

    ETA: For facts to be irrelevant, the people whose job it is to report facts to the public at large have to be falling down on the job. Check!

  14. 14
    NotMax says:

    @The Pale Scot

    Yiddish is great for those sorts of invocations. More.

  15. 15
    jl says:

    I predict an outbreak of excessively baroque derp very soon. Take precautions.

  16. 16
    fka AWS says:

    I actually know some people who have worked for the Associated Press who are good, capable journalists. How Ron Fournier ended up in the employ is a mystery.

  17. 17
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    Evidently everyone just met at the Whitehouse, POTUS, Reid, Pelosi, Boehner, Orange Julius gave a speech after the meeting saying that
    “once again the POTUS told us he would not negotiate” blah blah blah. Pelosi and Reid said Obamacare is off the table, fuggetaboutit. I love me some Nancy Smash.

  18. 18
    Gustopher says:

    I’m pretty sure Ron Fournier broke the nation. Not the answer he’s looking for though…

  19. 19
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @NotMax: I have no idea how to pronounce any of those.

  20. 20
    MikeJ says:

    One of the better explanations of the shutdown:

  21. 21
    maya says:

    The night they drove ol’ Washy down,
    Burkian bells were ringing,
    The night they drove ol’ Washy down,
    There were TPeople singing,
    They went, “Na-na-la-na-na-la”

  22. 22
    joel hanes says:

    Nixon broke it, and should have gone to jail; Reagan made it impossible to mend.

    (We traded away the Fairness Doctrine in the dispute over funding the Contras, without really recognizing it as the pearl of great price. Much of the nation’s veer to the Right can be traced to this single error.)

  23. 23
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Look in the mirror, you vile sack of “both sides do it!” shit.

  24. 24
    WereBear says:

    Are what the loonies asking of the President even possible?

    Can the President, like a King, just declare a law null and void?

  25. 25
    The Pale Scot says:

    A helpful guide:

    Everyday Romani Life Curses (warning, PDF)

    For the win:
    “Te śorđol ći gođi po drom, te ćidav la ando dikhlořo!
    “Your brain shall spray, and I will gather it in my handkerchief!”?

  26. 26
    BGinCHI says:

    @beltane: Beat me to it.

    Look in the motherfucking mirror, motherfucker.

    (Not raised by totebaggers)

  27. 27
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @BGinCHI: Wolves?

  28. 28
    Doug Milhous J says:


    Doug is this evidence for why you think these “principled centrists/moderates/whatever (whether their title is true or not)” are more dangerous to the country than the far-right?

    Yes, the far-right are just circus animals doing tricks for treats and pats.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    shelly says:

    an the President, like a King, just declare a law null and void?


  31. 31
    BGinCHI says:

    @Doug Milhous J: Journos like Fournier are in the “protect the status quo at any cost” business.

    And brother, business is booming.

  32. 32
    KG says:

    Who ruined Washington, DC? We can start with Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, and Adams. Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun didn’t help matters. Then again, neither did Andrew Johnson. Teddy Roosevelt running as a Bull Moose probably hurt on some level. Truman, LBJ, and Nixon did their share of damage. Hell, short of Ford who was basically trying to hold things together after Nixon, we can blame most all of them – Presidents, Speakers, leaders both majority and minority.

  33. 33
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @BGinCHI: That makes sense; there are so few wolves in Indiana.

  34. 34

    There are days when I wish I could mimic the old angry prophets and call fire down from heaven or sic a group of bears on people that annoy me. This is one of those days.

  35. 35
    Ash Can says:

    Who broke Washington?

    If he has to ask, there’s no way he’ll understand the answer.

  36. 36
    Reasonable 4ce says:

    Slightly OT, but you can’t make this stuff up.

  37. 37
    Amir Khalid says:

    That looks like German with very bad spelling. But then Yiddish is basically a dialect of German, isn’t it?

  38. 38
    NotMax says:

    @Omnes Omnibus

    One of the primary definitions in the dictionary (or at least used to be there) for Hoosier is “an ignorant rustic.”

  39. 39
    Wag says:

    When Ted Cruz has lost Grover Norquist in his quest, you know he went off the deep end.

  40. 40
    dmsilev says:

    @Reasonable 4ce: In fairness to Darrell Issa, he is a dishonest moron.

  41. 41
    BGinCHI says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Ironically I grew up near the Wolf Park in Battle Ground, but they wouldn’t raise me.

  42. 42
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @NotMax: I am from a state that has embraced the cheesehead, so I can’t say too much.

  43. 43
    BGinCHI says:

    @NotMax: I resemble that…..

  44. 44
  45. 45
    shepherdwong says:

    It didn’t hurt that the liberal argument (their side of the slug fest) was basically embargoed from public political discourse since Jimmy Carter destroyed the world by putting on a cartigan.

  46. 46
    NotMax says:

    @Amir Khalid

    Many Germanic influences, yes. Also Polish, some Russian, and more. And of course, lots of infusion from Hebrew.

  47. 47
    joel hanes says:


    Journos like Fournier

    He’s not a journalist, nor anything like one.

    His ancient profession is politely described as “courtier”.

    Now that Tbogg’s back, is it too much to hope for the resurrection of Media Whores Online ?

  48. 48
    BGinCHI says:

    @joel hanes: Caught begging the question red-handed.

    I should have just gone with “toady.”

  49. 49
    drkrick says:

    Gringrich and DeLay. They really started to ignore the old rules and found out there were no consequences. Reagan did the same thing, but Presidents already had enormous leeway (leave to Nixon to manage to figure out how to overspend that nearly unlimited account). The discovery that mere Congresspeople could do the same thing unleashed the crazy. The fact that people like Levin and Reid still think it’s worthwhile to respect the old rules is a different problem.

  50. 50
    Ted & Hellen says:

    And Harry Reid allows these assholes to hold the Senate hostage with his 60-vote filibuster rule.

    So yeah…he certainly does his part…

  51. 51
    drkrick says:

    @efgoldman: Every study I’ve seen indicates the story of unusually low Dem turnout in 2010 was an urban legend, while the GOP/TP side’s turnout was above off-year normals.

  52. 52
    John O says:

    I’m literally betting on a short-term default, DougJ. Not defaulting assumes rational actors.

  53. 53
    BGinCHI says:

    @efgoldman: So much michigoss with these tea partiers.

    My office was previously inhabited by a professor of, among other things, Yiddish lit. What a wonderful soul he was.

  54. 54
    greennotGreen says:

    @joel hanes: You wrote the Blessed Name. All hale the Horse!

  55. 55
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @NotMax: Fantastic. My great sadness in life is that I am decidedly Not Ethnic. I’ve always kind of resented that.

  56. 56
    Chris says:

    Who broke Washington?

    The people who decided that it was the problem, not the solution.

  57. 57
    Reasonable 4ce says:

    How about Darrell Issa is an evil criminal AND a dishonest moron?

  58. 58
    joel hanes says:



    Works for me.

  59. 59
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Just claim tuna casserole as your national food.

  60. 60
    gogol's wife says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I keep stalking you to say we share an alma mater.

  61. 61
    TAPX486 says:

    What I find so fascinating is that Boehner, McConnell and all the rest of the GOP are still walking around Washington and haven’t been arrested and transferred to GITMO. After all we KNOW that Obama is a fascist, communist, emperor , terrorist dictator who wants to run the world. Surely Obama could make his life so much easier by just giving these folks an all expense paid retirement in Cuba!

  62. 62
    TAPX486 says:

    @efgoldman: Teddy Kennedy among others made the same suggestion. The GOP screamed socialism

  63. 63
    eemom says:

    The founding fathers.

    Actually a very good piece, imo. Alex Pareene as usual is far above the suckage that is the rest of Salon.

  64. 64
    lefthanded compliment says:

    “…the sort of borderline sociopaths that national politics attracts.” Borderline? Borderline?!? Some of the wingnuts in Congress are way, way over the line.

  65. 65
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Mary G: I guess he comes from such a hard right corner of California that Issa is untouchable. Here’s hoping that California will get rid of all Republican Congresspeople next year.

  66. 66


    “once again the POTUS told us he would not negotiate”

    That may even be accurate. There’s reason to negotiate over the budget, but negotiating over a continuing resolution is crazy.

  67. 67
    hoodie says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: That’s the case when all you care about is power in the abstract. I used to work for a megalomaniac like that, he would make decisions that were diametrically opposed by the facts even when he really stood to receive no tangible benefit from the decision. He did this partly because he could get away with it, but mostly because the ability to baldly fly into the fact of facts was itself the ultimate manifestation of his power. The Reagan era enable that kind of thing with his being allowed to get away with made up stories and voodoo economics. With Gingrich and Bush, however, it matured into a pathology. I think it’s part of the reason Republicans seem to be compelled to lie even when it serves no particular practical purpose. Republicans are rejecting their own fucking health care plan because it’s more about power than substance. Hence, it makes perfect sense for Darrell Issa to be offering to replace Obamacare with Obamacare.

  68. 68
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gogol’s wife: Yeah, I saw that yesterday and responded. When were you there? 82-86 for me.

  69. 69
    gogol's wife says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    About 10 years earlier. (Sorry I missed your response — I can’t remember what thread it was.) It was a great place, but I haven’t visited in quite a long time.

    ETA: And I was shocked to see the story about open-carry.

  70. 70

    Who broke Washington? I’m writing tomorrow’s piece

    Punditubbies with their horse-race narrative, false equivalence and insidery gossipy style of reporting. Although some of them seem to be learning. Thinking cat approves.
    If Friedman could figure it out why can’t Fournier?

  71. 71
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: The kind with a potato chip crust?

  72. 72
    Svensker says:

    Canada, as usual, has the song for the Repubs — Consequence Free, Great Big Sea

    A little bit of anarchy, but not the hurting kind…

  73. 73
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gogol’s wife: You should visit when you get a chance. Some of the new buildings are awesome (Warch Center) and a lot of the trees around Main Hall that were saplings when I was there are good sized now. My ex (an alumna of an urban uni in Europe) described the campus as being like going to school in a park.

    @SiubhanDuinne: Yep. (ugh….)

  74. 74
    gogol's wife says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    But is there still a Viking Room? I left a lot of brain cells there.

  75. 75
    Felonius Monk says:

    It’s not WHO broke Washington. It’s WHAT broke Washington. MONEY.

  76. 76
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gogol’s wife: Yes, there is. Still in the same place, even though most of the Union’s functions have moved across the Lawe Street bridge to the Warch Center. The WC is between Sage and the bridge – where the guest house used to be.

  77. 77
    Redshirt says:

    Nixon broke America. He’s the one (and his team) that unleashed all the current insanity upon us. Truth as a political opinion being just one aspect.

  78. 78
    Redshirt says:

    Nixon also brought to life the successful Republican trick of attacking the media as “Liberal”.

    Nixon didn’t succeed with all his evil gambits, and of course ultimately was humiliated. But his tactics were taken up with vigor and given a million lives, in all the foul and wretched Wingnuts foaming around the land.

  79. 79
    Cain says:

    Speaking of the National Review, Robert Costa did an IAMA on reddit which was somewhat illuminating without being partisan I thought: You can find it here

  80. 80
    gogol's wife says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I lived in Sage 2 years!

  81. 81
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gogol’s wife: Kohler, Brokaw, Ormsby, Delt House.

  82. 82
    NotMax says:

    @Omnes Omnibus

    Think I’ve seen their ads on TV trolling for class action suits.

  83. 83
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @NotMax: Nah, they do “tax assistance.”

    ETA: GW knows exactly what I described.

  84. 84
    gogol's wife says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Trever, Plantz (!), Sage, Sage — all with the same roommate.

    ETA: In my day, Kohler was all-female.

  85. 85
    gogol's wife says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I mercifully even forgot the name of Plantz — I had to google it.

  86. 86
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gogol’s wife: All dorms were coed by floor when I was there. Except Brokaw which was coed by room.

  87. 87
    gogol's wife says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Ah, the good old days (although mine are somewhat older than yours). It was a sweet place.

    I have to go now — it’s been nice!

  88. 88
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gogol’s wife: Cheers.

  89. 89
    low-tech cyclist says:


    If Ron Fournier wants an honest answer to his question, he could start by posting a selfie, along with mug shots of the rest of the wingnut-enabling Washington press corps.


  90. 90
    liberal says:

    Again, this was all best summarized by Krugman, in the intro to one of his books, wherein he labels the Republican Party a “revolutionary power,” a la Kissinger.

  91. 91
    Ben Cisco says:

    9:43 PM – 2 Oct 13 @BenCisco
    @ron_fournier You and the rest of the FerengiMedia™ “Both Sides!” club, for enabling a clinically insane pack of NeoConfederate seditionists

  92. 92
    Jamie says:

    I wonder how old Ron is, 25?

  93. 93
    sherparick says:

    @Scott S.: Basically, Fournier has a series of articles in the National Journal where he starts off with a throwaway sentence about the shutdown being the fault of the Republicans and then follows it with about 1000 words about how bad Harry Reid and the President behave and talk. He really is a piece of work and the next time some conservative talks to me about “liberal bias in MSM” all I will be able to say in response is “if Ron Fournier and Jack Tapper are liberals, then so was Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater.”

  94. 94
    A Humble Lurker says:

    @Ted & Hellen:
    No. He does not. But you know, the ‘both sides’ gods must be appeased.

  95. 95
    marge says:

    @Baud: I think GW Bush broke Washington. And really the whole world.

  96. 96
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    Honestly, you can date it back to Bob ‘little blue pill’ Dole.

    It was his idea to run with a stonewall strategy on the premise that the voters would embrace ‘kick the bums out’ at the polls. And that’s what gave America the reign of Newt and the first generation of drooling true believers in the House.

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