Repub­li­cans fret not, to­day’s shut­down is far dif­fer­ent than 1996’s

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Fear not the shut­down, Repub­li­cans in Congress! You are the sup­pos­edly con­ser­va­tive al­ter­na­tive in pol­i­tics and we are cur­rently $16 tril­lion in the hole. The least you can do is stop spend­ing so much money ev­ery­day to keep the vile beast go­ing. Also, as the sup­pos­edly con­ser­va­tive al­ter­na­tive, you should be thrilled that all the “non-es­sen­tial” bu­reau­crats have been sent home while our mil­i­tary re­mains at post.

For most of us in­no­cent tax­pay­ers, this suits us just fine. The only peo­ple who should be scared are the big-gov­ern­ment en­thu­si­asts when the vast ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans re­al­ize they didn’t even no­tice the mon­strous fed­eral gov­ern­ment had shut down and that they re­ally don’t need all of this non­sense that hurls us deeper and deeper into an abyss of debt with ev­ery pass­ing week.

Yet be­ing slip­pery politi­cians, Repub­li­can lead­ers in Congress can­not help but worry about the po­lit­i­cal fall­out. They clutch their pearls and wrench their un­der­gar­ments and fret over how badly Repub­li­cans lost the “blame game” the last time the fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut down in 1996. But to­day is a whole dif­fer­ent deal. In Jan­uary 1996, fed­eral tax­pay­ers were on the hook for $4.9 tril­lion, a pal­try sum com­pared to the drunk spend­ing binge th­ese lizards have been on since then. They have more than tripled the na­tional debt since the last shut­down.

To visu­al­ize the dif­fer­ence, con­sider a man who porks up to 300 pounds. It is prob­a­bly time to go on a diet.

But to­day, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has metas­ta­sized into a 950-pounder who is so obese he can­not get out of bed. You have to call the fire depart­ment and take out a wall to have him re­moved. His rot­ting bed sores have welded his skin to the bed­sheets.

A lit­tle light di­et­ing is no longer in or­der. It is now a full-blown acute cri­sis.

Another dif­fer­ence is that the me­dia is vastly more di­verse to­day than it was a decade and a half ago. To hear all the main­stream press slather blame on Repub­li­cans to­day is a haunt­ing re­minder of how the whole thing got blamed on Repub­li­cans last time. But that was be­fore the ex­plo­sion of con­ser­va­tive me­dia and un­bi­ased re­port­ing on the In­ter­net.

The last time the fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut down, the Drudge Re­port was still but a twin­kle in Bill Clin­ton’s eye. Just a twitch in his pants.

It was dur­ing that time when “nonessen­tials” were sent home that Bubba met Monica Lewin­sky. And soon af­ter, Mr. Clin­ton met the in­sur­gency of non­main­stream me­dia.

Also dif­fer­ent to­day is that in 1996 Repub­li­cans con­trolled both cham­bers of Congress, so it re­ally was a show­down be­tween Repub­li­cans in Congress and a Demo­crat in the White House. To­day, it is not even clear that Repub­li­cans con­trol the House. But they cer­tainly don’t con­trol the Se­nate. Cur­rently, Democrats in Wash­ing­ton are at least two-thirds to blame for all this mess.

This is not to say that Repub­li­cans should take all this lightly. Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid is very cagey at shame­lessly blam­ing oth­ers for his own messes.

Per­haps Repub­li­cans could learn a les­son from Sen. Ted Cruz. De­spite the com­plete fail­ure of his half-baked “strat­egy” to de­fund Oba­macare, the Texas Repub­li­can did a fine job of stand­ing up and unashamedly mak­ing his case to the Amer­i­can peo­ple.

Charles Hurt can be reached at or on Twit­ter @charleshurt.

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