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Daniel Ruth: For big business, tea party is over

  • Tampa Bay Times
  • Published Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, at 12 a.m.

Finally it should start to sink in to the pitchforks-in-waiting that this government shutdown balderdash has gone too far.

Perhaps you can turn the lights off at Yosemite National Park and send the bears home until further notice. Maybe you can even tell the spies at the CIA to give their cloaks and daggers a rest for the time being.

But no beer? That is a case of inebriation without representation.

For the burgeoning craft beer industry, the government shutdown has closed the tap on new breweries and recipes that require processing by furloughed federal alcohol inspectors.

It’s one thing for a small cabal of Republican extremists to shutter the government because they regard Obamacare as the socialist Bermuda Triangle. It is quite another matter to make it more difficult for people to drink after putting up with the likes of a preening Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Interfering in the ability of entrepreneurs like craft brewers to sell their product and make a living in the marketplace would certainly seem un-Republican.

Perhaps that’s why we are seeing what could be the beginning of the last call for the tea party finger waggers. When the Republican establishment starts harrumphing over the irrational, disproportionate influence the tea party holds over the GOP, it is time to pull up a chair, grab a beer and watch all the fun.

In recent days, groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (hardly a den of Rachel Maddows), the National Federation of Independent Business and a number of corporate potentates have grumbled that unless the tea party wakes up and cooperates in reopening the government and approving a hike in the debt ceiling, there could be a price to pay at the polls.

Using a favored Koch brothers weapon, these groups are threatening to fund challengers in primary elections by recruiting more mainstream Republican candidates.

And why not? After all, for decades the Republican Party has been aligned with the likes of Wall Street, the Fortune 500, the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce.

But in recent years where has it gotten them? After tens of millions of dollars, the checkbooks find themselves having to take a number behind political holograms like Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Why should business groups seeking favor within the GOP to shill for their vested interests continue to pay for nothing?

Things were just fine as long as the tea party contented itself with running around in tricornered hats and Uncle Sam costumes on stilts accusing anyone who believed in man-made global warming of being a commie-loving traitor. Good times. We all have to have hobbies.

But what the tea party-istas have never quite understood is that after all the self-righteous, chest-thumping caterwauling about freedom and the Constitution and democracy and patriotism, you still have to govern in the real world. And that explains why the silk stocking of GOP potentates finally said: “Enough.”

The awakening of the Chamber of Commerce wing of the GOP recalls the movie “Network,” in which Howard Beale, a certifiably crazy anchorman, is taken to the woodshed by his boss Arthur Jensen after an on-air rant blows up a huge corporate merger.

“It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And you have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and you will atone!”

Or put another way, the Republican Party elders are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.

Daniel Ruth writes for the Tampa Bay Times.

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