This week, we watched the Congress of the United States enact another last-minute, “kick the can down the road” piece of legislation. Congress reopened the government — well, 17% of it — and extended the ability to borrow more money to pay for money that has been borrowed. And in usual congressional fashion, we will have to repeat this theater of the absurd before January 15 when government funding runs out, and before February 7, my 53rd birthday, for the debt ceiling.
There can be no doubt that the American people lost in every way in this debacle. Worst of all, our children and grandchildren must shoulder this mountain of fiscal irresponsibility.
Also, there can be no debate that the Republican Party came out of this episode disjointed and weak. President Obama and the Democrats, although wrong in every way, emerge seemingly more popular.
Why? It all comes down to strategy and tactics combined with the ability to effectively communicate.
The efforts of Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are wholeheartedly admirable and valiant. However, being a student of military strategy and tactics, their vision of “defunding” Obamacare reminded me of Operation Market Garden from September 1944 during World War II.
Field Marshal Montgomery envisioned cutting off Germany’s industrial base and advancing across the Rhine in the north. It would require the successful seizure and holding of several key bridges over rivers and canals. British General Horrocks’ XXX Corps was the primary ground force. The operation was, and still is, the largest airborne operation ever conducted. The mission of the airborne forces was to secure the series of bridges enabling the armored corps to punch through.
However, at one place, Arnhem, the British 1st Airborne Division encountered a stronger German force. Actually, they were dropped right on top of a German armored force due to bad intelligence.
Operation Market Garden was a brilliant concept and estimations were that it would end the war before winter. It failed. Subsequently, Germany would plan and launch their own final offensive into the Ardennes forest in December 1944. The German offensive was highly successful and caught the American Army by surprise. The stalwart stand of the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne and the ensuing attack by General Patton’s 3rd Army, the successful Battle of the Bulge, turned the tide and a depleted German Army would soon surrender.
The Cruz-Lee strategy of defunding Obamacare was a bridge too far. The focus should have been narrower in focus and used President Obama’s own language of delay to support the delay of the individual mandate. The strategy should have highlighted the “fairness” issue of the administration granting thousands of waivers and exemptions, including to Congress and the White House.
Just as Operation Market Garden depended upon coordination between airborne and armored forces, the Cruz-Lee strategy depended upon conservative and moderate GOP support to be successful.
Now, the GOP must be prepared for the reaction. Just as the Germans launched their Ardennes offensive, the Democrats sense an opportunity to exploit a defeated GOP (and of course, no comparison between Democrats and Nazis is intended beyond strategy). President Obama and the Democrats’ strategy is evident: divide and destroy the GOP in order to secure the House and Senate for the last two years of the Obama presidency.
Does the GOP have a tough, intransigent BG McAuliffe, who even when surrounded at Bastogne refused to surrender? Does the GOP have visionary leaders like Generals Eisenhower and Bradley? Does the GOP have an aggressive field commander like a General Patton?
My recommendation? The Republican Party needs a weekend leadership retreat to the Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, to learn a little about strategy and tactics.