Sen. Harkin compares today's political fights with those before the Civil War
I'm not sure what the old liberal is trying to say. Are we on the verge of another Civil War? Or are House Republicans sort of like the southern fire eaters who started the conflict?
As the clock ticks down toward a possible government shutdown, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, isn't holding back.
On the Senate floor before 10 a.m. Friday, the senator gave a speech describing how American politics have reached the level at which "a small group of willful men and women who have a certain ideology"-read: the tea party and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas-have been able to take over the congressional budget debate in the last week. "Since they can't get their way," Harkin said, "they're going to create this confusion and discourse and hope that the public will be so mixed up in who is to blame for this, that they'll blame both sides."
This isn't just congressional business as usual, Harkin said. It's much, much more dire:
It's dangerous. It's very dangerous. I believe, Mr. President, we are at one of the most dangerous points in our history right now. Every bit as dangerous as the break-up of the Union before the Civil War.
This isn't the first time the senator has spoken out about the spiraling budget and the fight over Obamacare. Harkin suggested Thursday that Cruz looked "foolish" for his "little tirade" that lasted from Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday morning. Harkin called out Cruz as being part of "the most extreme tea-party wing" of his party, and for his "ideology-driven obstructionism."
Of course, it'd be a stretch to think that the United States is on the cusp of anything as violent as the Civil War. But the consequences of a government shutdown or topping over the debt ceiling could be massively harmful for the U.S. economy, whether you're looking at the possibility of a downgrade in U.S. credit or just the shutdown in payments and services with thousands of government employees out of work.
For the record, lawmakers used to arm themselves before coming to work in the period leading up to the Civil War. Fistfights were not uncommon and the invective hurled back and forth by north and south makes Harkin's name calling of Cruz seem childlike by comparison.
Cruz was guilty of similar hyperbole when comparing those who didn't "believe" that Obamacare could be defunded (as if such a thing was a matter of faith) with those who appeased the Nazis. It's not an apt comparison given the fact that Chamberlain's appeasement was based on a "no war at all costs" strategy. No one in the GOP that I can think of who opposed Cruz's efforts isn't ready to strap on the armor and gird their loins for battle if there was a plan to defund or eliminate Obamacare that had a one in a thousand chance of success. Cruz's plan had a below zero chance of succeeding which made opposing him a rational choice.
Bottom line: Politicians are bound to look like fools when they prove their ignorance of history by using inapt analogies.