Wall Street Journal editorials are usually very good, the WSJ‘s editorial page being one of the few of major newspapers whose authors are economically literate. The editors recently argued that last Friday’s late-hour budget agreement was “The Tea Party’s First Victory.”
Maybe it was. But consider this passage from the piece:
Republicans also showed they are able to make the compromises required to govern. We realize that “governing” can often be an excuse for incumbent self-interest. But this early show of political maturity will demonstrate to independents that the freshmen and tea party Republicans they elected in November aren’t the yahoos of media lore. A government shutdown over a spending difference of $7 billion and some policy riders would have made the GOP look reckless for little return.
Here the editors are misreading the political tea leaves. There is nothing that “the freshmen and tea party Republicans” can do that will change the opinion of most media outlets that they are “yahoos” bent on “reckless” endangerment of the republic. Indeed, that is one of the more charitable ways to describe what liberal pundits and editorial pages will write, not to mention think, about these Republicans. And when I say they can do nothing to change that, I mean it: Even if the Republicans had capitulated entirely to the Democrats’ opening offer of—what was it, $9 billion in cuts?—it would have been explained not as evidence of the ‘maturity’ and ‘reasonableness’ the WSJ seems to believe but because of something rather less flattering. (My guess: either (a) stupidity, (b) a secret Machiavellian strategem, or (c) some combination of the two.)
If I’m right about that, and the central currents of media and liberal opinion of these Republicans will not change, then why should either they or the WSJ bother worrying about it?