Hostage Taking Then and Now

| Fri Oct. 4, 2013 9:09 PM EDT

Here is Charles Krauthammer today:

President Obama indignantly insists that GOP attempts to abolish or amend Obama­care are unseemly because it is “settled” law, having passed both houses of Congress, obtained his signature and passed muster with the Supreme Court....Yet when the House of Representatives undertakes a constitutionally correct, i.e., legislative, procedure for suspending the other mandate — the individual mandate — this is portrayed as some extra-constitutional sabotage of the rule of law. Why is tying that amendment to a generalized spending bill an outrage?

Now let's imagine it is 2003, Democrats control the House of Representatives, and they have refused to allow the government to continue running unless President Bush's tax cut is repealed. Under pressure, they have since "compromised," and are now demanding only that the top rate cuts be repealed as their price for reopening the government. Here is Krauthammer:

President Bush indignantly insists that Democratic attempts to abolish or amend his tax cut are unseemly because it is “settled” law, having passed both houses of Congress, obtained his signature and passed muster with the Supreme Court....Yet when the House of Representatives undertakes a constitutionally correct, i.e., legislative, procedure for suspending the top end cuts, this is portrayed as some extra-constitutional sabotage of the rule of law. Why is tying that amendment to a generalized spending bill an outrage?

Please raise your hand if you can imagine Krauthammer writing that. Anyone? Now please raise your hand if you're pretty sure he'd have written the exact opposite.

On a related note, Krauthammer is part of the crowd that thinks it was foolish for Republicans to tie Obamacare defunding to a government shutdown. If they were going to do this at all, he figures they should have tied it to the debt ceiling increase instead. This is a hundred times more damaging, of course, the financial equivalent of threatening nuclear obliteration, but it polls better so he prefers it. It's a pretty good example of the dissolute state of the highbrow end of the conservative commentariat these days.

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