One of the more shameful stories that has come out of Congress during the past 20 years is how the Republican Party has thus far refused to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security. It came down to about two hours before the deadline on Friday when Republicans finally agreed to the barest of compromises with Democrats to give a one-week extension of funding, and keep the Department open. Full funding is still unsettled.
I find this almost more reprehensible than when the GOP came as close to not extending the Debt Limit, which would have destroyed the United States credit rating. Though the Debt Limit would have been arguably more harmful, I rate this current situation with Homeland Security at the same level because it was Republicans who unrelentingly made patriotism the issue when the DHS was created and have so profoundly pounded it into America's face ever since then. "Pre 9/11 Thinking" became a scurrilous, attack catchphrase by the Bush Administration, whipped out whenever it was convenient to damn anyone who didn't have the same attitude they did about dealing with terror threats. And support every ounce of the Department of Homeland Security led the list.
Like any debate, there are always at least two sides trying to claim the truth. That doesn't mean both sides have equal validity, just that they each have their points that want to get across. The thing is, the Republican debating point here of who is to blame, trying to point the finger at Democrats, holds no water. None. That's because it fails the "What if..." flip-the-argument test.
That's the test where you take the exact same situation and flip it end for end. Consider, therefore, if everything about the situation was exactly the same, except that it was the Democrats withholding their votes to fund the Department of Homeland Security.
Consider that a moment. I'll wait.
Consider that Democrats were the ones voting time after time to not fund the Department of Homeland Security. And now -- imagine the reaction of Republicans.
Imagine the lead stories on "Fox News." Imagine Rush Limbaugh. Imagine Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Charles Krauthammer, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney and all those conservatives who've been making a living pushing the fear of others and terrorism into every crevice of your being. Imagine. Just imagine the cries of a stuck pig squealing and sickened calls of "traitor" and "aid and comfort to the enemy" and "unpatriotic" and "leaving America vulnerable" and "the smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud." And moans and yelps and veins popping out of their collective necks.
The Republican Party has no idea how easily Democrats have let them off the hook on this issue. Because I feel confident, based on past experience, that conservatives would never, ever -- never -- have been even 1/50th as thoughtful. There have been no serious calls by Democratic leadership or mainstream liberal commentators bringing patriotism into question against Republicans, or calls of traitor, something that would have been part of natural breathing by conservatives.
Not fund the Department of Homeland Security??? Seriously? Can you imagine if Democrats had done that?! I'm guessing your bones even tingle at the mere thought of what Republicans would do.
This isn't a discussion of the strengths and problems of the Department of Homeland Security, it's just looking at the issue of who's responsible for the Department not yet being fully-funded.
And the Far Right can try to point all the fingers it wants, but this is a simple "look at the vote" matter. And the votes against funding have been led by Republicans. Period. In fact, Republicans couldn't even pass their own bill (!!) on Friday to fund DHS. Republicans themselves voted it down.
The thing is, this isn't even about the Department of Homeland Security. It's about attaching a rider to the bill in order to block immigration. Republicans are so hell-bent set on blocking immigration that they are willing to sink the Department of Homeland Security.
Imagine if this was Democrats doing the same thing.
And Republicans can't try to falsely claim that they were willing to vote for DHS -- because the GOP-led Congress never allowed there to be a bill that was just a vote on DHS. They set it to fail by attaching the immigration rider that they thought they could play chicken with national security over. But they ignored one critical fact -- you don't play chicken with national security.
Imagine if Democrats did the same thing.
I feel confident saying that almost every conservative knows to the bottom of their toenails that in the deepest recesses of their hearts they believe there is NO circumstance that DHS should ever have its funding withheld. Yet there the Republican Party was, making sure it couldn't be funded.
In the end, all assumptions are that Republicans screwed themselves over their irresponsible game-playing, and with the one-week reprieve that Democrats banded together and agreed to, there should be a clean bill to fund DHS this week.
But who knows? Maybe Republicans will show themselves to be shameless panderers willing to put selfish self-interests against national security and shoot themselves in the foot again.
And they've only been in control of Congress for two months. It's an impressive start. And one which I suspect will be remembered in 2016.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor