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Say Yes to the CR Mess

Don't be distracted from the main fight.

9:11 AM, Apr 14, 2011 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Let's assume for the purpose of argument that our friends at National Review are at least partly right in their analysis of the deal on the continuing resolution (CR) that's to be voted on today in the House of Representatives (but see John McCormack’s post for some context). In their recommendation of a No vote, they seem to me misguided.

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Even if the savings from the CR are a "pittance," and the deal is "shot through with gimmicks and one-time savings;" even if it's "a dog’s breakfast of budgetary legerdemain" that was "oversold and dependent on classic Washington budget trickery" and that embodies “business as usual"--even so, NR is wrong, I think, to conclude, "We’d vote 'no,' even if we understand the impulse to move on to more important matters and to avoid a leap into the dark that might include a politically damaging shutdown."

I’d vote yes.

The CR may well be a mess. It's certainly a sideshow. Perhaps John Boehner could have gotten a better deal, but it wouldn't have made much difference in the big-picture budget fight anyway. That fight is now underway, and the 2011 CR will be little noted, nor long remembered--unless the squabble over the CR fractures Republicans, and unless it prevents them from being able to focus the nation on what NR admits are "more important matters." The fact is the only way the 2011 CR will end up making much difference is if the deal is defeated in the Republican House, and the rejection leads to NR's "politically damaging shutdown" which then endangers future conservative prospects this year, and next.

So don't let the CR make a difference. Pass it. Don't risk a shutdown for a trifle. Forget about sniping at John Boehner. Help defeat Barack Obama in the major struggle that's now been joined on the budget--and the future. Focus on Obama's unbelievable irresponsibility, not Boehner's alleged negotiating deficiencies. Figure out what big things (Medicaid reform?) can be added to the upcoming debt limit vote. Educate the public so as to improve the current only slightly better than even split in public opinion on the GOP budget.

Conservatives who seek to govern this country will have a better chance of success if we behave as adults working towards victory in an important cause, rather than reveling in our incorruptible purity over on stage right, while neglecting what’s happening at center stage.

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