warring tribes that call themselves the Virginia
Republican Party had better settle their differences
over taxes or else there could be a big shake-up at
be lulled to sleep by this budget thing.
it seems to have degenerated into an exercise in
dulling, numbing tedium.
But brace yourself.
The budget is going to get sorted out.
Then the real show starts ó the aftermath.
political tsunami has the potential to swamp the
House of Delegates.
heart of the matter lies in this old political
youíve got the votes, call the roll.
If you donít have them, negotiate.
course, the magic number in the House is still 51.
And the magic question is:
Who can find that number first?
Republicans holding a nearly 2-1 majority in the
House, you would think thatís a rather academic
sort of question. But
see, that Republican majority is not so much a
monolithic nation-state as it is a loose federation
of warring tribes.
Republicans did well together when facing a common
enemy, very well ó governorship and both state
houses, both U.S. Senate seats, three-fourths of the
U S. House seats, and a slew of local stuff.
then they ran out of territory to conquer and the
plague of prosperity set in.
they should have done was beat their swords into
ploughshares, and take up the arts ó like
governing, and such. But
what did they do? Like
good barbarians, they tribed back up and turned on
the astonishing thing:
Some of the dimmer bulbs of that lot are
still at it ó still issuing threats to their own,
still promising primary opposition, and so on,
little cognizant of the fact that theyíve already
beaten away enough of them ó 17, to be
exact ó to turn the political world upside down in
a quick math review here.
Whatís the magic number?
Thatís right, 51.
Whatís 17 Republicans and 35 Democrats?
Who gets there first?
You broke the code!
they forceÖ sayÖ a compromise on the budget?
Let me think.
MmmmÖ yes. They
could (and did) force a compromise on the budget.
now letís think for a minute in the abstract.
Letís just say that this coalition drifts
into conversation about things other than the
would the possibilities be then?
they force the election of a new speaker?
they force the appointment of new committee
save some time and space here.
Is there anything that they couldnít do? Is
there anything they couldnít force?
In legislative terms, they could stop the
legislative terms, they could make water run uphill.
In legislative terms, they can do anything
ó anything ó they darn well please.
could they set off the equivalent of a political
bet your sweet backside they could.
they do it?
think a lot of that depends on the behavior of some
of these dimmer bulbs in the Republican Party who
still donít get it, who still donít understand
that you canít threaten and badger all of your
troops like you can some of them, who still
fundamentally donít understand the implications of
that magic number 51.
am certain of this: The
longer people like Kate Obenshain Griffin, the
Republican Party Chairman, and Paul Jost and Peter
Ferrara and Grover Norquist and others of their
ilk throw the rocks of the Anti-Tax Right at their
own folks, the higher the probability of just such a
this shrieking goes on long enough ó and there is
no sign of abatement yet ó then the brash,
defiant, Republican battle cry, ďNo New Taxes!Ē
could be replaced by a louder, more desperate one:
keep our fingers crossed.
I didnít mean to say that.
What I meant to say was:
hope that doesnít happen.
That would just break my heart.
April 26, 2004