On December 15th, Rep. Rodney Davis spoke in front of the White House about the government shutdown. In his brief comments, Rep. Davis wrung his hands over (what he felt) was the Democrat’s unwillingness to compromise or come to an agreement with Republicans in order to end the stalemate. More recently he regurgitated the same talking points on the morning news networks.

Rep. Davis knows these talking points sound good and they poll well. He knows that to the unobservant/gullible he’ll come off sounding like a reasonable guy. Rep. Davis also knows that he’s completely and utterly full of shit. Strip away the self-righteous moral preening and you’re left with an argument (and a representative) that is needlessly exacerbating the pain 800,000 federal workers who are currently out of work or working without pay are feeling. 

Rep Davis, being not entirely incapable of independent thought, watches the news. I’m confident that he knows what the facts are. I’m confident he knows he’s lying. I’m also confident that he simply doesn’t care. For those who do (and I would hope that’s the lion’s share of the people reading this), here is the reality of the situation:

  1. The shutdown started under tripartite Republican control in Washington.
  2. Trump, on national television, said: “I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck.…I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.”
  3. Davis is crying crocodile tears over the lack of a “bipartisan compromise” that already exists and was passed unanimously through both the House and the Senate back in December.
  4.  Democrats have routinely come to the table in the exact way Davis pretends they haven’t, and Trump has stormed out of the room in the exact way Davis pretends he wouldn’t.
  5. The public blames the GOP for the shutdown.

Knowing this, it’s not difficult to understand why the GOP would throw someone like Davis in front of any and every camera they can. He is nothing if not obedient, and appears to be completely incapable of feeling shame. So being the sacrificial lamb in a public messaging battle the GOP has already lost is a no-brainer, and will remain Davis’ only real utility to the party over the next two years.

The situation Davis is in would be pitiable were it not for the fact that a.) as I said before, he knows he’s not arguing in good faith here, and b.) in perpetuating this mythical “both sides need to work together” narrative he’s making an actual bipartisan resolution more difficult. If Davis weren’t so servile and truly cared about ending the shutdown, he’d do what many Senate Republicans are doing and urging McConnell (and Trump) to prioritize re-opening the government over border-wall funding that US taxpayers weren’t supposed to be on the hook for in the first place. The only reason Trump’s heels are dug in so deep (aside from viewing everything through the lens of his fragile ego) is because lapdogs like Davis have given him the confidence to do it. Trump has had a free pass from congressional Republicans for the last 2 years, and despite scandals, indictments, abhorrent comments, inhumane policies, and the increasingly likely conclusion that the president colluded with a foreign power to manipulate the presidential election, they’ve shown zero willingness to revoke it.

Davis had a choice here. He could have chosen to be the “bipartisan/moderate” candidate he promised us he was during the campaign. Unfortunately, if not unsurprisingly, Rep. Davis did not make that choice. Instead, he’s decided that going full-on Trump bootlicker in order to satisfy the terrified white septuagenarians that make up his base is the right call. Were I on Davis’ team, I probably would have suggested option A. After all, Davis has gone all-in on option B since 2016 and all he’s managed to do is turn a +20 Republican district into a .5% toss-up. I’m guessing the suggestion to continue with option B came from the same person that told him that a penchant for day-old fast-food would endear him to the working class. It’s clear that Team Rodney™ is firing on all cylinders.

It’s like your neighbor set your house on fire, then got mad at you because you wouldn’t pay them to help put it out. In this scenario, Rodney Davis would be the firefighter that shows up and paternalistically lectures you about the importance of hearing your neighbor’s side of the story as your house collapses in on itself in the background.

Photo from msnbc.com