CNN's Gloria Borger ripped the 87 new Republicans in the House of Representatives in a Thursday commentary on CNN.com for their "arrogance of absolute conviction" in wanting to cut the budget. Borger first labeled this attachment to principle "dangerous," and continued that the "problem" with the freshmen representatives and their allies at the state level was "their conviction that compromise is bad."
The senior political analyst set the tone right away with the title of piece, "The arrogance of the new budget cutters." After noting that "we said we wanted budget cutters, so that's what we have" and the apparent "downright frenzy of rectitude in Washington," Borger stated that those "most convinced of their task are the 87 House Republican newcomers." She shot her first "arrogant" labeled at the freshmen after complimenting them a bit:
They are not awestruck by Washington. (A good thing.) They are not remotely humbled by the hallowed and marbled halls. (Still good.) Instead, they come with the arrogance of absolute conviction. (Dangerous.) Here's the mantra: We were sent here to cut the budget, and that is what we intend to do. Period.
She repeated this pattern of complimenting then ripping the new House Republicans in the next two paragraphs, but also directed some of her fire at newly-elected Republican governors:
In one way, it's a devotion that should be applauded. The freshmen intend to test the notion that Washington can be changed, which we would all welcome. They believe that the previous GOP majority -- the one that came in with Gingrich's revolution in 1994 -- was itself co-opted by the system, and its own power and ran up the deficit. And they are also right about that. (Can anyone say Tom DeLay?)
Their brethren in this new movement for change are many of the newly minted Republican governors. They share the House GOPers' single-minded worship of the budget-knife. Again, in theory, it's a healthy shift. Then what's the problem? It's their way of doing business. It's their conviction that compromise is bad. "They could use a dose of humility," says one senior White House adviser. (And he should know: The White House, arrogant in its own use of the majority, got its humble pie in the midterm elections.)
Borger acknowledges that the Obama administration was also "arrogant" during the first two years, but did she criticize them within the first two months of their term for their insistence in passing the stimulus package? No, the CNN personality actually praised President Obama for how he apparently "came across as a real pragmatist" during his first press conference on February 9, 2009.
The analyst then predictably singled out Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was one of the worst offenders among the "newly minted Republican governors":
...Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin now has a sit-in on his front stoop in Madison because -- apparently as part of his budget-cutting mission -- he wants to water down the state's collective bargaining agreements. It wasn't enough that state workers agreed to pay more for their pension and health benefits (which they previously got almost for free). That would have been a great start: Declare victory and fight the rest another day....did Walker have to take on collective bargaining now if he really wants to control spending immediately?
Didn't he know the fight would take a huge -- and potentially damaging -- detour? Of course he did. He wanted to be Ronald Reagan battling the air traffic controllers union. The point: He wanted the fight.
And, by the way, if Gov. Walker were really all about the deficit, why did he just sign a bill that requires a supermajority to raise certain kinds of taxes? If he wants to reduce that red ink, tax hikes should also be on the table. But that would be heresy to the GOP base, so no way. That's the way the newcomers work.
It should be no surprise that Borger is suggesting that "tax hikes should be on the table." That's what you might call the "arrogance of absolute conviction" of a liberal journalist. She then returned to attacking the House Republican freshmen and actually hinted that they were acting not so differently from terrorists:
And in the same arrogant vein, do House Republicans have to shut the government down rather than compromise on a temporary plan to fund the government? Their more establishment elders -- who rose from the ruins of the last Newt Gingrich created government shutdown -- would rather avoid it. But they're clearly held hostage by their bulge of freshmen who see compromise as capitulation to the enemy.
It was less than a month ago that Borger's own colleague at CNN, Dana Bash, reported that "Senate Democratic leaders held a news conference Thursday to warn about the dangers of a Republican-forced government shutdown. But as one reporter aptly noted to the leaders, it is the Democrats talking most about shutting down the government."
The CNN analyst concluded her column by speaking highly of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels:
One of the most level-headed public officials in all of this budget frenzy is Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels. He's a grownup, having served both outside and inside Washington. Yes he also dealt with the public employee union issue, by signing an executive order ending collective bargaining for Indiana state workers, which cost him politically early on in his tenure.
Yet when state Republicans called for a vote on a proposal to weaken unions in the private sector -- and Democratic members started heading for the hills -- Daniels decided to lower the temperature and shelve the bill. "I thought there was a better time and place to have these very important and legitimate issues raised," he said.
Daniels is right. And at a recent speech in Washington before a conservative group, he was right again: "Purity in martyrdom," he warned his GOP audience, "is for suicide bombers." His proposition is about to be tested.