By Mike Lupica
House Rep. Pete King of Long Island watches along with the rest of us as the lunatic fringe of his own party takes its marching orders from a mouth-breather like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and threatens to shut down the federal government for sport.
And as things do play out this way in Washington, deadline looming, government actually about to be shut down for the first time since 1996, King knows he is watching something far more important:
Watching the House of Representatives -- where he has worked for 11 terms, Republican out of New York's 2nd Congressional District -- be turned into the dumbest banana republic anywhere.
"The American people have a perfect right to think that the yahoos are running the show," King said Sunday.
"Books will be written about this someday," King added. "About how somebody like Ted Cruz and 30 or 40 House Republicans, all of them living in this weird echo chamber where they think they have a monopoly on morality, politics and even constitutional law, tried to undo something done by the entire government."
Of course, Pete King is talking about something known even at the outer reaches of outer space as Obamacare. And of course Pete King knows that this attack by Cruz and his tame followers isn't really an attack on the President's vision for health care in this country, it is an attack on Barack Obama himself, straight up. The defunding of Obamacare is simply used as cover.
This is the right-wing wet dream of bringing down this President in any way possible. Obama clearly invested so much of his first term, and his immense political capital, on health care. So they go after him harder than ever on that while they still can. These people, all the righteous God guys and righteous gun guys in Congress -- all those who genuflect in front of the nuts from the Tea Party -- don't care who suffers as long as Barack Obama does.
"It has become obsessive," Pete King said about the hatred for Obama, this coming from somebody who tried to break records voting against Obamacare. "Worse, it's a form of government terrorism. Somehow the mindset with these people is if the government does shut down, Obama is the one who'll be blamed."
New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, saw an even deeper hatred.
"It's not just the President they hate," Cuomo said Sunday. "It's government. Any big program, or initiative, that's where they galvanize."
So this is how it happens, a political party hijacked by its worst elements, which means the likes of Ted Cruz. Somehow a handful of the yahoos that Pete King spoke of, the ones who line up behind Cruz and demand a one-year delay on the President's health care law and a repeal of the tax money needed to pay for the law, say they will withhold funds to keep the government running past 12:01 a.m. Tuesday if they don't get their way.
This isn't about whether you like Obamacare or not, or Obama himself, for that matter; whether or not you think his second term will be as weak as George W. Bush's. This is about the form of political terrorism about which King spoke, directed against a bill that was passed by both the House and the Senate, signed into law by the President, upheld by the Supreme Court.
"We are in a gridlock situation," Cuomo said, "because our politics have deteriorated to the point where they really are too often governed by the extremists. But the extremists, from the right in this case, can't win if the moderates stand up to them, because the moderates still have the numbers. Pete King happens to be one of the moderates who seems to understand that."
The ones who obsessively hate Obama the way they do, hate him in an unhinged way, the ones playing to the rabble the way Cruz does and cheered on by the bullhorn media of the right, could not stop him from being elected. Twice. Could not stop his health care plan from becoming law. So they try to stop him in this backdoor way, and don't care who they hurt as long as they hurt this President.
And then Ted Cruz, the current king of unintended self-parody, turns around and accuses the Democrats of holding the country hostage. The lowest common denominator somehow acting as if he has claimed high ground. This is some proud day for all of us, the day before the government could be shut down, the face of democracy suddenly being a drooler like this.