by John Avlon
October 12, 2013
After 12 days of stalemate, conversations – if not negotiations – have started.
But House Republicans remain deadlocked with the White House, its leadership constrained by their own far-Right-wing caucus, announcing to members in a closed-door session this morning that any deal would have to come from the Senate, where Mitch McConnell, the GOP minority leader, declared: “I’m willing to work with the government we have, not the one I wish we had.” This is a significant concession to reality.
Washington is engaged in a war of attrition – not just between Republicans and Democrats, but an increasingly vicious civil war within the GOP between the Tea Party and what remains of the responsible centre-Right.
The battle lines have been hardened over the past half-decade, as poisonous polarisation turned the idea of political opponents into personal enemies. Ideological divisions inside the Republican Party resulted in a hunt for heretics, with Tea Party senators like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee raising activist cash with infomercials to unseat fellow Republican incumbents, accusing them of being insufficiently conservative and therefore collaborators with President Barack Obama.