Norm Ornstein makes a good point in Tierney Sneed’s piece today about the underlying budget dynamics that led to the House GOP suddenly finding itself in the horrible position of defending the Confederate flag.
Don’t get me wrong: The overarching story of the Confederate flag for the GOP remains the toxic mix of Civil War mythology, entrenched racism, and the lingering effects of Nixon’s Southern strategy. But as Ornstein points out, the budget process has morphed under Speaker John Boehner in such a way that this kind of sideshow was almost primed to happen, and the Confederate flag just happened to be the trigger. That’s not as dramatic as the historic shift we’re witnessing across the South, but it helps explain how this happened.
Furthermore, as Tierney’s piece makes clear, the short- to medium-term consequences of the Confederate flag fiasco on the GOP’s own deeply held budget objectives are nothing short of disastrous. So even by the internal logic of congressional Republicans, the Confederate flag is a big problem, which makes the whole thing impossible to defend even on its own terms. It’s just a huge mess for Boehner, and all because of something as fundamentally indefensible as the Confederate flag.