October 9, 2013 3:14 pm -

It’s not news that Republicans are deeply divided these days. We’re on day nine of a government shutdown and barreling toward the debt ceiling, default, and economic calamity primarily due to the machinations of a minority faction of conservatives hell-bent on destroying the Affordable Care Act. (Despite the better judgment of leadership.)

We’ve heard a lot from Sen. Ted Cruz and a host of tea party congressmen with which you were probably previously unfamiliar about the evils of Obamacare, that it will “destroy America.” Even Speaker Boehner says they’re just trying to save the American public from this train wreck.

But the demand to defund the program has morphed into a demand to delay it by a year, but maybe also to kill the medical device tax, and/or take away contraceptive coverage from the ladies, or maybe just delay the mandate? Then there’s that long wishlist of demands they put together for raising the debt ceiling which also includes the Keystone XL pipeline, gutting financial reform, and killing a whole bunch of social programs, among other republican unicorns. Then someone started floating the idea of  a “Grand Bargain“, and there has even been the mention of another “Super Committee” (since the last one worked out so well.) In other words, the hostage is still in custody, but the hostage-takers can’t seem to agree on their ransom demands.

Today, former Vice Presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan has taken to the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal to tell us “how we can end this stalemate.” So what’s his solution? President Obama just has to come to the table and then they can agree on nifty things like tax “reform”, cuts to entitlement programs, and even more oil and gas production! Setting aside for a moment that this “solution” is a complete non-starter for Democrats, the most interesting part is what Ryan fails to mention: Obamacare. Not a single word about the very program so egregious the GOP had no choice but to force the government into shutdown and push us to the brink of default.

As you might imagine, a few right-wing heads have exploded this morning. Sure, Ryan’s plan has about the same chance of success as Cruz’s demand that Democrats just agree to abort Obamacare, but the divide between his op-ed and the nihilist rhetoric of the Cruz faction is telling. Even if Democrats wanted to, with whom would they negotiate? This is a party in serious crisis. Unfortunately, they’re bringing the rest of us along for the ride.

Sandi Behrns