Jan 7 2013




In his column for the Daily Beast last week, commentator and author Robert Shrum chose the winners and losers of the Fiscal Cliff battle. You can read the column in its entirety at the Daily Beast.

Shrum examines the impact on the Republican Party and Speaker Boehner. He writes of about the leader of the House:

"After stepping (or stumbling) back from the fiscal cliff, we have a zombie Speaker of the House, his authority as dubious as his tan, his hold on the gavel barely reconfirmed—a hold reliant on a promise that he will no longer sit down one-to-one with the president of the United States to seek bipartisan agreement.

John Boehner is less the Speaker than a battered ventriloquist for the Tea Party klatch in his caucus. Don’t hold your breath waiting for him to accept Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s offer as she introduced him on the House rostrum—to come together and find “the common ground that is a higher, better place for our country.”

The writier continues about the GOP:

"The GOP lost not only the last campaign, but the last century. Unable to steal the majority—Barack Obama is the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to win more than 51 percent in two successive elections—the losers are still determined to repeal the New Deal, the New Frontier, and the Great Society."

Shrum also writes about disenchanted liberals, the upcoming races in New Jersey and Virginia and the upcoming debt ceiling battle. But the journalist reserves real praise for the job done by Vice-President Biden.

"Another potential 2016 candidate played a central, probably indispensable role in guiding us off the fiscal cliff. As the clock ticked down, Vice President Joe Biden negotiated his way through what appeared to be an impassable thicket of discord and disagreement. Hillary Clinton is a more than formidable obstacle to any other Democratic contender, but no one knows—probably she doesn’t know—what she will do. And Biden is, as the president said when the compromise finally passed, “extraordinary.” The lazy press caricatures of Biden are being steadily confounded—by his skill and appeal in the 2012 campaign, by his counsel on Afghanistan and terrorism, by his capacity to discuss, persuade, and shrewdly trade with the congressional GOP.

Obama understands Biden’s value—and has now dispatched him to handle the intractable question of guns. Don’t bet he won’t find a way through again. In terms of real achievement, he is the most effective vice president in American history. Dick Cheney was effective, of course—at bullying the intelligence community and lying us into the Iraq war. Health concerns aside, he could never have successfully run for president. Biden can—and may—and the past week points in that direction.

Biden’s partner in the negotiations was Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who, to his credit, briefly swore off tea drinking to do what was essential for America. But the full job is undone. And fearing a primary challenge in Kentucky, McConnell is back to preaching the GOP gospel of reaction on the debt limit. So prepare for a rough ride that will lead to prosperity or recession, that will recast politics and perhaps make a president."