Right-Wing Media: We Didn't Lose The Shutdown Fight, We Were Betrayed

Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

CapitalRight-wing media that demanded the Republican Party shut down the government and put the debt ceiling at risk as a strategy to damage ObamaCare are already signaling that they blame members of Congress who were insufficiently supportive for the plan's failure.

That's consistent with the theory Media Matters laid out yesterday that the right-wing media has become convinced that conservatism cannot lose, and thus any evidence suggesting that a conservative strategy failed will be rejected on the grounds that either the strategy didn't really lose, or the real fault lies with its implementers who somehow betrayed the plan.

Last night, the House GOP failed to coalesce around a bill that would have funded the government, raised the debt ceiling, and implemented various conservative policies. Current reporting indicates that both Houses of Congress will now pass the Senate's bill, which will fund the government and raise the debt ceiling, but without the sort of Republican demands that have stalled those objectives for weeks.

Observers across the spectrum are calling this a crushing defeat for the Tea Party strategy that linked must-pass legislation to defunding or delaying ObamaCare, and it's easy to see why. For weeks it's been clear that because Republicans control only the House of Representatives, the only deal that could pass both houses of Congress and be signed into law by President Obama would be one that relied largely on Democratic votes in the House. House Speaker Boehner's attempt to pass a bill with only Republican support never had a chance, led to devastating poll numbers for his party, and in the end the GOP couldn't even find a set of demands that they all agreed with.

But among the members of the right-wing media who promoted this strategy, it's not the plan that was at fault, it's the failure of Republican leaders to stick it out. Fox News contributor Erick Erickson responded to the latest developments by blaming the House Republicans who "have signaled they are giving up" and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was "outsmarted" by Majority Leader Harry Reid (who also happens to control the majority of the Senate). His next step?

We only need a few good small businessmen and women to stand up and challenge these Republicans who are caving. If they refuse to fight for us, we must fight them. It is the only way we will finally be able to fight against Obamacare.

I am tired of funding Republicans who campaign against Obamacare then refuse to fight. It's time to find a new batch of Republicans to actually practice what the current crop preaches.

Yesterday, while the House Republicans were still trying to put together a bill that could pass with only the support of their members, Rush Limbaugh offered a similar take:

I wouldn't say the Republicans are in a no-lose situation, but I'm telling you that the DC media have convinced them they're in a no-win situation.

Who's convinced them of this? Their own consultants, the Republican establishment. The media and the Democrats have convinced these conservatives -- and I'm not talking about the Tea Party guys. The Tea Party guys are still okay. There might be a couple wavers in there, but the Tea Party people are still pretty solid. I'm talking about everybody else. They're the ones that just want to end this and get away and go home and forget it and pretend it never happened.

The strategy didn't fail, say the right-wing media figures who pushed it all along. And so they'll try to defeat the congressional Republicans who gave up when it was clear it had. 

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