Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Smash-Mouth Liberalism

Apparently Smash Mouth was the name of the first band to give Trump permission to use their music at his rallies. Not sure how that relates to the way Douthat's using the expression, but it must be relevant.
Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, does not love the kids; he is deeply distressed by them, in particular their chillingly violent calls for the destruction of Senator Rubio ("Marco Rubio Must Be Destroyed"):
Since the Parkland shootings in Florida, Senator Marco Rubio has done many of the things liberals say they are desperate, desperate for decent Republicans to do. He has changed his position on gun control, expressing support for new restrictions: age limits on gun purchases, new background check rules, possibly magazine restrictions. He has co-sponsored legislation encouraging states to issue restraining orders that temporarily would strip people deemed dangerous of their guns. Some of these measures have conservative support, but in other cases the Florida Republican has effectively bucked the N.R.A.
When he showed up for the CNN town hall he met boos and heckles; one of the shooting survivors told him that just looking at him was like staring down the barrel of an assault rifle. Notwithstanding his subsequent policy concessions, at the March for Our Lives the students wore price tags around their neck, $1.05 each — the amount of money Rubio’s campaigns have received from the N.R.A. divided by the number of students in Florida schools. David Hogg, one of their leaders, began his speech with the price tag line, and told a CNN interviewer that if anything he feels that their attacks on the Florida senator haven’t been provocative enough.
I'm not having any luck finding cases of liberals saying "I am desperate, desperate for decent Republicans to" do anything. It's certainly not something I would say. I suspect Ross is making this up.

It's true that Rubio's been changing his views on this and that angle of the gun violence issue. At that CNN townhall meeting, February 21, where he stood representing the Thoughts and Prayers Caucus with the NRA succubus Dana Loesch, he responded to the booing and heckling with more thoughts than prayers, for a change announcing that he favored raising the age at which Americans can buy rifles (as things are they can own one at 18, but have to wait until they're 21 to get a handgun), and also backed banning the bump stock that turns a semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun, "improving" the background check system in a way the Trump administration is considering, and maybe withdrawing support for the large-capacity magazine. But he wouldn't discuss the $3,303,355 he's received from NRA associated individuals, making him the sixth biggest recipient there is of such funds. which is where the "kids" in particular started getting pretty restless.

It took him to March 1 to get to a real proposal, apparently in association with Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, who has long supported an assault weapons ban among other important expedients,  because by March 7, the two of them had an actual bill ready, for "gun violence restraining orders"; Nelson, showing his liberal hatred and conviction that Marco Rubio Must Be Destroyed,
said he backed the proposal, but he also ultimately wants universal background checks and more restrictions on assault weapons.
By now the NRA itself seems to be in favor of the GVRO, for what it's worth.

But in this way you can see what's really going on as a kind of good cop–bad cop routine, in which there are gunsense supporters who pressure Marco and make him feel bad, like the high school students, and gunsense supporters who come up with ideas and make him feel good, like Nelson. Not how the Monsignor sees it, of course.
I think that in their anti-Rubio zeal the student activists are also picking up on a general approach to politics that the Trump era has encouraged among liberals — a view that since the current Republican majorities were forged by anger and a kind of smash-mouth politics, it’s incumbent upon liberals to give no quarter in return, and to treat any sudden conciliation from a prominent figure like the Florida senator not as an opportunity for deal making but as a welcome sign of weakness that should inspire further fierce attack....
But there are things that you can risk or lose when you fight the way Rubio’s critics seem to want to fight. For instance, one reason that the Dreamer amnesty was an executive decision that Donald Trump could simply reverse, landing us in our current immigration stalemate, was that the Obama White House deliberately chose to make it one, pre-empting an effort by, yes, Marco Rubio to craft bipartisan legislation.
The dishonesty of this last bit just enrages me beyond bearing, because of course the Obama White House instituted the DACA program in 2012 after two years of begging Congress to act:
I have said time and time and time again to Congress that, send me the DREAM Act, put it on my desk, and I will sign it right away.
Now, both parties wrote this legislation.  And a year and a half ago, Democrats passed the DREAM Act in the House, but Republicans walked away from it.  It got 55 votes in the Senate, but Republicans blocked it.  The bill hasn’t really changed.  The need hasn’t changed.  It’s still the right thing to do.  The only thing that has changed, apparently, was the politics...
In the absence of any immigration action from Congress to fix our broken immigration system, what we’ve tried to do is focus our immigration enforcement resources in the right places.  So we prioritized border security, putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history -- today, there are fewer illegal crossings than at any time in the past 40 years.  We focused and used discretion about whom to prosecute, focusing on criminals who endanger our communities rather than students who are earning their education.  And today, deportation of criminals is up 80 percent.  We've improved on that discretion carefully and thoughtfully.  Well, today, we're improving it again. 
Rubio was one of the Republican Senators who had consistently opposed that 2010 DREAM Act (Bob Bennett, Murkowski, and Lugar supported it, and some of the dreadful Democratic usual suspects opposed it), until April 2012 , "changing his mind" suddenly when he thought it would give him some political advantage in the form of the ability to contribute Latino votes as vice presidential candidate on a Romney ticket, and in the knowledge that there was no way he could bring such a bill to a vote. The situation was well summarized by the Miami immigrant advocate Cheryl Little:

Cheryl Little, a prominent immigration advocate and lawyer in Miami, said she was pleasantly surprised when Mr. Rubio called her a few weeks ago to seek her opinion.
Ms. Little would prefer something permanent for the dreamers, and not a succession of temporary visas, but she said Mr. Rubio was the lone Republican in Congress trying to address the issue.
“It’s hard to believe they will budge,” she said of Republicans, given the election year. “But we are pushing everybody we can to try to do something to move this forward. I don’t care if it’s a Republican, a Democrat or an independent. If they have a good idea, and it’s got legs, we are going to support it.”
Meanwhile, Ms. Little and other activists are pressuring President Obama to expand a discretionary provision already granted to the Department of Homeland Security that delays deportation of these students and allows them to work. That permission is currently given on a case by case basis.
“The administration should do what they have the authority to do, and do so now,” Ms. Little said.
It was maybe three weeks after that that Obama finally recognized that there was no hope of getting Congress to act and adopted the activists' idea (bolded by me in the above quotation), which is what we now know as DACA. When Rubio got involved in some somewhat serious "efforts to craft bipartisan legislation" was with the Gang of Eight after the election, in 2013, which developed a comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate this time and failed in the House. Obama backed those proposals from the start, while recognizing that they left a lot of problems unsolved. It was Rubio who dumped them, when it became politically expedient to do so. By February 2016, running for president and seeing where the Republican masses were heading, Rubio had dumped his own bill as not sufficiently "conservative" (in emulation of Romney on Massachusetts health care, I guess), and was explaining to everybody that it hadn't been meant to be taken seriously:
he suggested the bill was for show and he never expected House Republicans to go through with it.
“The Senate immigration law was not headed towards becoming law,” Rubio said Monday at a campaign appearance in South Carolina, according to NBC News. “Ideally, it was headed towards the House, where conservative members of the House were going to make it even better.”
This represents a sharp departure for Rubio, who previously called it a “good piece of legislation” that House Republicans should “take a look at."
Different people have gotten disillusioned with Rubio at different times, but I think that was the big one for me, which is why I'm writing this stupid thing. It's where I began to see him as a person without scruples or reliable beliefs other than his hatred for women who seek abortions. What I'm here for, really, is to say that if those high school students are making him feel lousy, he certainly deserves it—his tentative moves toward a more acceptable position on gun control don't mean a thing as long as he hasn't acted in some way or another, and don't expect him to do that. I'm happy to praise Republicans like Lamar Alexander on the Dreamer issue and I'd probably praise Dick Lugar on the gun issue if he hadn't been Tea Partied out of Washington, but I'm going to be very cautious before I ever praise Cuban Heels.

Also, the "Dreamer amnesty" was not "an executive decision that Donald Trump could simply reverse," since Trump hasn't managed to reverse it yet; it's in the hands of courts that have so far ruled mostly against him. Douthat says,
That was a good example of smash-mouth liberalism, albeit substantive in that case rather than just rhetorical and driven by fear of Rubio rather than the current spirit of contempt: Don’t let a Republican politician make nice with Latino voters, don’t let Republicans disguise their anti-immigrant views with modest bipartisan maneuvers, create a clear contrast so that voters will reward you even if doing so requires pushing certain constitutional limits on your power.
In fact, it's a good example of using the office of the presidency to get something useful done when a dysfunctional Congress has made it nearly impossible, instead of using rhetoric to shore up your position. And as the courts have been saying, it's not pushing the Constitution at all. The "clear contrast" was created by Congress, with its inability to do anything whatever.

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