Highly Successful Hobbits

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Marc Thiessen writes:

John McCain went to the Senate floor to mock Tea Partyers as “hobbits,” and Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen said Tea Party Republicans “are unfit for governing.”

What a difference a weekend makes.  The reported debt-limit deal appears to be a victory for the Tea Party.

I disagree for two reasons. First, I’m not sure this deal is a conservative victory. The upfront spending cuts are puny, tax increases are still on the table, and the treatment of defense is at best cavalier. Second, McCain (like the Wall Street Journal editorial he was quoting) wasn’t “mocking Tea Partyers” or opposing the objective of a deal that cut spending and refrained from raising taxes. He was saying that a deal should not be contingent on passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Most tea-party congressmen, judging from their stated willingness to vote for Boehner’s plan Thursday night before it was rewritten, sided with McCain and the Journal. And the folks McCain and the Journal were criticizing have not won this fight — just ask them.