GOP Sen. Judd Gregg Blames His Party's Fiscal Cliff Position on 'Self-Anointed Definers of Religious Purity'

Former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) weighs in on the fiscal cliff standoff in an editorial on The Hill today. Gregg casts a pox on both Republicans and Democrats, singling out an odd couple for blame on the right:

Both parties have, as part of their core elements, groups that do not wish to govern.

Rather, they wish to stay in the corners of the ring and shout — artificially firing up their constituencies so that they can mine their followers for contributions and power.

On the left, this is the cause of big labor and the AARP. On the right, it is the cause of the self-anointed definers of religious purity and the anti-tax cabal.

The "anti-tax cabal" is obviously an oblique shot at Grover Norquist, but not oblique enough to escape notice. That being the case, why not just name him and shame him if he is really such a problem?

My main question is, who in Gregg's mind are the "self-anointed definers of religious purity" in the context of the fiscal cliff talks? Whoever they are, Gregg castigates them along with Norquist, "big labor" and the AARP.

These groups do not want action.

They have no interest in solving America’s most obvious problem — the danger of our growing and debilitating federal debt, and its implications for the future of the nation.

These groups dominate the politics of upcoming elections.

They cannot, and do not, wish to contribute to solutions that involve governing, because governing in our system — by definition and experience — requires compromise.

It strikes me as very unlikely that a Tony Perkins or Billy Graham, supposing they are even Gregg's "religious purity" targets, have anywhere near the leverage in the fiscal cliff battle that Richard Trumka or Andy Stern have.

Sen. Gregg probably penned his op-ed with the self-satisfied smugness typical of a moderate in today's Washington: "See, I took on both sides. Look at my courage!"

The problem with such a moderate stance is that it mostly ignores the immoderate man in the White House. It ignores the possibility that Barack Obama welcomes the fiscal cliff because it divides his opposition and guts the military while raising taxes -- three objectives that suit any man or woman of the left of the past 40 years. Going over the fiscal cliff also affords Obama the opportunity to swoop in in 2013 offering to cut taxes on the middle class after they have gone up, while blaming Republicans for the hike.

Going over the fiscal cliff is, from President Obama's point of view, full of win. Sen. Gregg just doesn't get it.

Or maybe he does get it, but his job as international adviser to Goldman Sachs -- the same firm whose personnel dominate the Obama administration itself -- it more important to him than speaking clearly on the facts of the fiscal cliff.