On the right, pundits and activists ignore warnings about what will happen on Aug. 2, telling Republicans not to "capitulate" to any deal
In a recent column, David Brooks marveled at the GOP's failure to even pursue the debt ceiling deal negotiated by House Speaker John Boehner, despite the possibility that it could result in up to $3 trillion in spending cuts over a decade.
Who was to blame?
In Brooks's telling, it was partly the fault of "Big Government Blowhards," a group he describes as follows:
The talk-radio jocks are not in the business of promoting conservative governance. They are in the business of building an audience by stroking the pleasure centers of their listeners.
They mostly give pseudo Crispin's Day speeches to battalions of the like-minded from the safety of the conservative ghetto. To keep audience share, they need to portray politics as a cataclysmic, Manichaean struggle. A series of compromises that steadily advance conservative aims would muddy their story lines and be death to their ratings.
Is he exaggerating? Even if there are folks portraying politics as a cataclysmic, Manichean struggle, do they have any influence?
Let's put it this way. My colleague Megan McArdle has written a post showing the sorts of specific, draconian spending cuts that would be required if we didn't raise the debt ceiling. They'd be impermissible, even to grassroots conservatives. But the grassroots don't trust her analysis. Moody's warns that they'll downgrade the country's credit rating if a debt ceiling deal isn't forthcoming, and The New York Times reports that Wall Street is preparing for crisis. But the grassroots don't trust financial elites or the mainstream media. It's foolhardy to play games with something so serious as the debt ceiling, various renowned economists warn. But the grassroots don't trust elite academics or the heads of international organizations. So what are the people they do trust telling them?