Julia Ioffe a, a senior editor at The New Republic, is being ridiculous. First she wrote a bizarre post asking the question: “What is a president in a presidential constitutional republic to do when faced with an intransigent, bull-headed faction among his people’s representatives?”
She then goes on to answer that question by celebrating Boris Yeltsin’s efforts to crush the Communists still controlling the Russian parliament 20 years ago.
She never says that President Obama should do something similar — i.e., dissolve parliament and then turn the tanks on the diehards — but it’s difficult not to read her post as a kind of wishful thinking at least. If that’s a misreading of her intent, the blame lies entirely in her bad writing and reasoning. Some additional evidence that this is where she’s coming from can be found in this tweet of hers:
Haters, I'll say this: Tea Party tactics are most like the Bolsheviks'. Destroy the system from within to impose purist ideological order.
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) October 1, 2013
Where to begin? For starters, the Bolsheviks were not trying to restore an old order. They were bloodthirsty revolutionaries eager to purge every vestige of the old order. After all, they weren’t czarists or, needless to say, supporters of the Russian Provisional Government under Kerensky. The tea parties on the other hand are dedicated to the constitutional order established by the Founding and the subsequent amendments. In other words, Ioffe’s comparison is silly and nonsensical when actually considering the content of the respective ideologies at play.
But, give her the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume she’s making a point simply about “tactics.” How are tea-party tactics comparable to the Bolsheviks? Are the tea partiers lining opponents against the wall and murdering them? Republican strategy may be flawed, but when Republican representatives democratically elected to stop Obamacare refuse to pass a continuing resolution that doesn’t delay the invidual mandate or repeal the medical-device tax, only very confused people respond by shouting “Bolsheviks!”
Meanwhile, in an ironic twist, The New Republic is running another piece alongside Ioffe’s denouncing conservative magazines for “downplaying” the shutdown. That’s probably true. Maybe we are downplaying the significance of the 18th shutdown since 1977. The horror! But if the issue is overreacting to the shutdown, I think TNR is in a class all its own.