Very good article from the conservative press by former Reagan official Bruce Bartlett on why Republicans lost and are likely to keep losing. Spoiler alert: it’s because the inmates are running the asylum.
Today in 1968, Robert Kennedy was mortally wounded by an assassin at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California primary. His death began a long depressing spiral in American history, paving the way for the election of Richard Nixon through divisive racial and class-warfare tactics that continue to split society today. I often wonder how things might have developed had RFK lived. For one thing, I think Nixon would’ve been finished. Remember that nominations then were controlled by party bosses, not primary voters. Indeed, RFK likely would’ve faced a floor fight in Chicago. For another, remember that Nixon in ’68 was still considered a political joke, a loser. The prospect of another Kennedy v. Nixon contest would’ve brought all those weaknesses back to the forefront. The bosses would’ve dropped Nixon, leading to a fight between Ronald Reagan and Nelson Rockefeller, which Rockefeller would’ve won; GOP elders also remembered the Goldwater debacle of 1964. Rockefeller would’ve not have run a dog-whistle racist campaign as did Nixon, leading to a bigger result for George Wallace, probably the whole of the South. RFK would win, but the election would still likely be very close. Without Nixon to use his old China connections to block negotiations, Vietnam would’ve ended much earlier, and thousands of Americans lives would’ve been spared. No Cambodian killing fields, either. No Watergate, no Imperial presidency. RFK was certainly not a traditional liberal in domestic policy, either; he favored small-scale neighborhood development organizations run by locals over a centralized welfare state. I could go on and on. RFK was not a saint, nor politically invincible, but I think an America in which he lived would be a much better place today.
Ronald Reagan raised taxes. Several times. This fact makes Eric Cantor’s press flunky explode. Pretty funny stuff.
Because it doesn’t test well with your target demographic to come right out and say “we only give a shit about millionaires,” the Republic Party has trotted out the line that “millionaires won’t hire you/loan you money is because they are UNCERTAIN about future tax liability.” This is, of course, a crock. And more to the point, it’s a crock that exposes both the GOP’s slavish bootlicking to corporations and millionaires, but only their deliberate and willful ignorance of history.
OBAMA’S PROGRESS REPORT
“When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.”
It is axiomatic that mid-term elections are a referendum on the party in power. In 2002, George W. Bush got a boost due to public perception of his leadership in the wake of the 9/11 Attacks. Plus, he hadn’t yet lied the country into a bloody fiasco in Iraq, though the planning was well underway. In 1994, Republicans took both ends of the Capitol Building in a massive repudiation of Bill Clinton, though it was also partly due to Democratic corruption scandals and the historical 30-year trend of the Republicanization of the South. Mostly, though, it was due to Clinton’s stunning political ineptitude. First, he demoralized his own base by shoving NAFTA through an extremely reluctant Congress. Next, he badly fumbled health-care reform, something that should have been a winning issue. His clumsy handling of the issue of gays in the military managed to aggravate both sides while pleasing no one. Now Barack Obama is facing his first mid-terms, and there are some similarities to 1994. Obama’s approval ratings hover in the mid 40’s, about where Clinton was (and about where Ronald Reagan was in 1982). Much like Barack Obama today, Clinton drove Right Wingers insane. And by “insane,” I don’t mean “whimsically eccentric”; I mean “clinically psychotic.” Bill Clinton was a murderer, a drug dealer, the mastermind behind the Oklahoma City Bombing. Obama is a secret Muslim born in Kenya, a Communist, a Nazi, the Anti-Christ. Like 1994, this level of drooling insane paranoia fires up a rabid base the Republic Party is willing to exploit: back then, it was the Militia Movement, now it’s the Tea Partiers, both essentially warmed-over reincarnations of the John Birchers (or, as we call them in Texas, Republicans). Just as then, the Democrats’ liberal base is disenchanted, partly due to unrealistic expectations, but also legitimate disappointment over missed opportunities. There are, however, significant differences. Barack Obama, unlike Clinton, goes into the election with an impressive string of legislative victories: a stimulus package, Wall Street reform, rescues of the banking and automotive industries, and of course, healthcare reform, succeeding where Clinton failed. None of these successes, though, are particularly popular with the general public. The reason why relates to Obama’s main problem: After winning by a (more…)
A Washington Post article suggests Obama may be scaling down his healthcare reform proposal, with the idea that half a loaf is better than no loaf going into the 2010 mid-terms. While this might make sense strategically, anything less than a whole loaf will be universally trumpeted in the MSM & Right Wing Howler Monkey Media Chorus as a total, crushing defeat. If the article is accurate, it points up Obama’s major weakness: his touchingly naive belief in bipartisanship. He seems to genuinely believe there are Republicans of good conscience who will put aside ideology and work with him for the good of the nation. There aren’t. Having been pounded in two straight elections, Republicans have no idea what they are FOR but they do know what they are AGAINST: anything associated with Obama. The President could adopt Ronald Reagan’s platform tomorrow verbatim and Rush Limbaugh would denounce it as “socialism” and Glenn Beck who wail that it was “just like Nazi Germany.” The smaller the GOP gets, the meaner and crazier it gets, to the extent that a majority refuse to believe that Obama was born in America! Does this sound like the kind of people who are going to listen to reason? Any Republican member of Congress that might even think of cooperating risks being challenged by the inmates who are running the asylum. This also means that liberals who want comprehensive healthcare reform need to lay off the Blue Dogs; without any Republican support, Obama has to have them to get anything done.
The Life of the Party
“Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.’”
In 1974, following a Democratic congressional landslide and Richard Nixon’s forced abdication, there was quite a bit of talk about the extinction of the Republican Party, some of it coming from Republicans themselves. Just six years later, Ronald Reagan triumphed, becoming the first candidate to defeat an incumbent president since 1932 and ushering in a major realignment of American politics. When Democrats were turned out of Congress in 1994, and especially after George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004, many pundits heralded the coming of a permanent Republican electoral majority. Now, the GOP lies in tatters–hemorrhaging supporters, disorganized, demoralized and bankrupt fiscally, morally and politically. (more…)
Our benevolent Beltway Overlords continue to remind us that, even though Barack Obama is clearly a socialist (not to mention Hitler), he is also the second coming of Reagan (also possibly Eisenhower) and all the Americans who voted for him are moderates, or possibly “center right” (except when they’re not). See? It all makes perfect sense!
According to the Right Wing Howler Monkey Media Chorus:
Ronald Reagan (1980) wins 489 electoral votes and 50.7% of the popular vote = MANDATE!!!!!!
George H.W. Bush (1988) wins 426 electoral votes and 53.4% of the popular vote = MANDATE!!!!
George W. Bush (2000) wins 271 electoral votes and 47.9% of the popular vote = MANDATE!!!
George W. Bush (2004) wins 286 electoral votes and 50.7% of the popular vote = MANDATE!!!!!
Barack Obama (2008) wins 365 (at least) electoral votes and 52.3% of the popular vote = confirmation that America is a “center right” country.
UPDATE: Apparently I somehow screwed up the link. Try this one.
UPDATE 2: Evidently, 59% of Americans have not gotten the memo on the whole “center right” thing.