What happened to ‘for the good of the country’?

When Lyndon Johnson put his signature on the Civil Rights Act in 1964, he noted that Democrats were “signing away the South for 50 years.”

It seemed unlikely. The Deep South had been Dem Country for decades. Surely it wouldn’t.

Ha: I give you South Carolina. Also Georgia. Not to mention Mississippi.

LBJ may have been many things but clueless wasn’t one of them. When Barack Obama was elected in Year 44 of the Johnson Prophecy, he did it without those states, and without Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee.

In retrospect, it didn’t take a genius to see what Johnson saw. He knew the South and knew racial prejudice there was widespread and effectively codified.

Still, in retail politics 45 years is an eternity. The pendulum could swing away, swing back and swing again. The southern United States is no longer “The South” in the old sense. There are pockets, as there are still pockets of Nevada here. Increasingly, though, everyplace is California.

And in California, Republicans are what?

Two words: dee and funct. Or, if you prefer, mori and bund.

They aren’t dead. They’ll crawl, like locusts, from the filth in which they’ve immersed themselves for 20 years. If nothing else, Democrats will find a way to screw up enough to make the conservative agenda seem palatable. When it comes to squandering leads, the Dems are the Washington Generals of politics: No matter how amusingly their opponents play the clown, they’ll blow it in the end.

But that will come later. Right now, I think there’s a chance the Repubs, through their recent actions, have actually dug their hole deeper than it was in November.

Oh, hell, I’m probably wrong. When you count on voters to show reason and judgment, a lot can go wrong.

But have you ever seen—outside of kindergarten—a tantrum such as the GOP has pitched the last few weeks? Country be damned, constituents go hang, they’ve kicked their sorry heels and screamed, en masse, “We didn’t lose in November. We didn’t, we didn’t, we didn’t.” The entire right side of the House of Representatives ought to be made to stand in a corner until bedtime. In the Senate, Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell and our own John Ensign, in particular, must have arborists on call to prune their noses after every public utterance.

The explanation is simple, though sickening: If Obama’s plan to breathe life into what’s left of the economy succeeds, no credit will attach to the Repubs. It will be Obama’s triumph. If it fails, and they seem to have gone along, it will be a mutual fiasco: “Government” floated a half-assed plan that didn’t work.

The only way the GOP can look good is for Obama’s plan to fail and for the Republicans to be able to say, “We warned you this would happen.” To that end, they’ve worked to make the plan as half-assed as possible.

That explains the Republican charade as no other argument I’ve heard does. Is it really possible that of 178 Repubs in the House, not one thought the current crisis warranted immediate, even if imperfect, action? Of the 41 Republicans in the Senate, just three (as I write this) agreed with virtually every disinterested economist on the planet in thinking a bolus of instant cash is the best way to reverse our death spiral?

I don’t believe it. It’s a puppet show, a political game of chicken in which, true to their history, it appears the Democrats will swerve to the right.