Free Markets, Free People

The Left’s new narrative?

Personally I think of Steve Benen as a bit of a lightweight when it comes to political analysis. But he can be counted on to faithfully repeat the left’s talking points, or absent that, come up with some off the wall theory (sometimes involving conspiracy) to try to explain and demonize the right. A recent wig out involves a vast conspiracy of right-wingers who want to see the economy stay sickly for political purposes. And it is all because, as he implies, the right-wingers "actively dislike the United States".

No. Really.

NONE DARE CALL IT SABOTAGE…. Consider a thought experiment. Imagine you actively disliked the United States, and wanted to deliberately undermine its economy. What kind of positions would you take to do the most damage?

You might start with rejecting the advice of economists and oppose any kind of stimulus investments. You’d also want to cut spending and take money out of the economy, while blocking funds to states and municipalities, forcing them to lay off more workers. You’d no doubt want to cut off stimulative unemployment benefits, and identify the single most effective jobs program of the last two years (the TANF Emergency Fund) so you could kill it.

You might then take steps to stop the Federal Reserve from trying to lower the unemployment rate. You’d also no doubt want to create massive economic uncertainty by vowing to gut the national health care system, promising to re-write the rules overseeing the financial industry, vowing re-write business regulations in general, considering a government shutdown, and even weighing the possibly of sending the United States into default.

You might want to cover your tracks a bit, and say you have an economic plan that would help — a tax policy that’s already been tried — but you’d do so knowing that such a plan has already proven not to work.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Does any of it sound familiar? In the context you’ve presented it, Mr. Benen – uh, no. It sounds contrived and fanciful – a wish a political hack would love to be true so he could use it to brand the opposition as unpatriotic and evil. Not that it being untrue will stop Mr. Benen from using such implications – this article is proof of that.

But you really have to suspend disbelief and pitch logic out the window to end up where Benen is with this particular piece. Cherry pick things that support your hare-brained thesis, give them a conspiratorial twist and bingo, you’re on your way to branding the opposition with something you’ve wanted to put on them for quite some time.

Benen then brings out some supporting fire:

Budget expert Stan Collender has predicted that Republicans perceive "economic hardship as the path to election glory." Paul Krugman noted in his column yesterday that Republicans "want the economy to stay weak as long as there’s a Democrat in the White House."

Got to love the hard hitting "Republicans "perceive" economic hardship as a path to election glory." Pure unsubstantiated speculation (unsupported by anything credible – certainly not Benen’s conspiracy theory nonsense).  Always fun to see a Democratic operative speaking about “Republican perceptions”, something I’m sure he’s absolutely tuned in on.

Certainly the state of the economy has worked to the detriment of the Democrats, but concluding a continuing poor economy is of value to the Republicans completely misses the message of the midterm election. And as Benen demonstrates, as does Krugman for that matter,  he missed the message too.  Not that anyone should be surprised.   The Democratic Congress missed it as well (see lame duck legislative priorities) as did the President.

Benen also turns to Matt Yglesias, a truly objective source, to give his batty theory some legs:

…I know that tangible improvements in the economy are key to Obama’s re-election chances. And Douglas Hibbs knows that it’s key. And senior administration officials know that its key. So is it so unreasonable to think that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner may also know that it’s key? That rank and file Republicans know that it’s key? McConnell has clarified that his key goal in the Senate is to cause Barack Obama to lose in 2012 which if McConnell understands the situation correctly means doing everything in his power to reduce economic growth. Boehner has distanced himself from this theory, but many members of his caucus may agree with McConnell.

Which is just to say that specifically the White House needs to be prepared not just for rough political tactics from the opposition (what else is new?) but for a true worst case scenario of deliberate economic sabotage.

Then it time for the cherry on top – liberal commenter Jonathan Chait:

Establishing motive is always very hard to prove. What’s more, the notion of deliberate sabotage presumes a conscious awareness that doesn’t square with human psychology as I understand it. People are extraordinarily deft at making their principles — not just their stated principles, but their actual principles — comport with their interests. The old Upton Sinclair quote — "It is difficult to make a man understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding it" — has a lot of wisdom to it.

I don’t think many Republicans are actually trying to stop legislation that might help the economy recover because they know that a slow economy is their best route to regaining power. I think that when they’re in power, consequences like an economic slowdown or a collapsing industry seem very dire, and policies to prevent this are going to sound compelling. When you’re out of power, arguments against such policies are going to sound more compelling.

Really?  Or is it, as has been the case with most of the legislation the 111th Congress has passed or attempted to pass, just abysmally bad law? Occam’s razor, Mr. Chait.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.  In the case of the legislation passed by the latest Congress, sometimes crap is just crap.

But back on point, does anyone see what’s going on here? It is "victimhood" time on the left. They will still control the Presidency and the Senate next year, but they’re already setting up the "Republicans are evil and are really in control of the government, so whatever happens isn’t our fault" meme.  Benen seems to realize that the current Congress and President have done an awful job with the economy. In fact, other than quickly throwing a few trillion dollars we don’t have at it (and which has seemingly had no measurable positive effect) they’ve ignored it for their ideological agenda items.  And, because of that, and the  obvious probability that the economy will not be in the shape necessary to give the President and Democrats a leg up in 2012, it is time to start switching the narrative and project the blame on the usual suspects.

And what better way to do that than to start yelling conspiracy theory (well sorta, kinda) and cobbling together disparate facts and fanciful rhetoric into dubious implications for a new narrative?

Premise: The Republicans are evil, only interested in regaining power (one assumes to finally destroy the nation) and will do whatever it takes to secure that power, to include sabotaging the economy.  Why?  Because they “actively dislike the United States”.

This from a group of people that actively worked for eight long years to sabotage (no conjecture here, the record stands on its own) a Republican Presidency and flat had tantrums if you ever questioned their patriotism or motivation.

But, as they say, that was then and this is now.  And now, of course, it’s “different”.

Hypocrites.

~McQ

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22 Responses to The Left’s new narrative?

  • Imagine you actively disliked the United States, and wanted to deliberately undermine its economy. What kind of positions would you take to do the most damage?

    I would adopt socialist, big-government policies that have failed every single time they’ve been used, in dozens of places all around the globe, with almost a hundred-year unbroken track record of causing deprivation and misery.

    Which is pretty much exactly what ObamaCo did. So using this lightweight’s own logic, that would imply that Obama is consciously working to damage the United States of America.

    For the record, I don’t think Obama is consciously doing that, though I know we have readers who do think so, and they make a decent case. I tend more to the “Don’t attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity” principle, and given some of our lefty commenters and the commentators we often dissect, stupidity seems to be in no short supply on the left.

    However, I think lefties often do jump to such malicious explanations because they have their own malicious fantasies about what they would do to the other side if they had the means and wouldn’t pay any price. They then project their own psychology on their opponents. Certainly we’ve seen every manner of such projection in the comment section here.

    • But I have to note that there are people in the Obami who are NOT stupid, and who DO understand economics.
      There is also the fact that Cloward and Piven are very real people who very seriously proposed what they proposed.  If you couple their DEMAND-side scheme with a SUPPLY-side crippling of the productive capacity of the U.S., along with an apparently concerted program to subvert the law and impose fascist economic structures in the major sectors of the economy…well, when I do that math, it looks like design.
      How else do we explain the destruction of the Gulf economy?  What is the impact of the TSA police-state on the airline industry?

      • Damn it, Rags…I spend ten minutes putting together a reply and you read my mind and post it… :-)
        I’d just add that if IT WAS ME trying to sabotage a country, I’d do exactly what the Dems have been doing since they were taken over by the New Left in the late 1960s. Additionally, I’d turn the educational systems into a inverted, mind-numbing union/bureaucratic jobs program. From there, the media, entertainment and every other crucial entity would fail de facto.
         

      • Nope. Occam’s Razor should apply.
        Let’s say we have one big oil leak in the Gulf and it looks bad. It looks like maybe regulatory oversight wasn’t done well. What would a CYA politician with no knowledge of the real world, except as an academic or a community activist do?
        SHUT EVERYTHING DOWN! Its the safest thing to do. What if there was another leak? I mean, we would look really bad. You know nobody considered how big the industry was and how many people would be affected. They just assumed it would be okay. Or maybe they think BP can pay for everything. Another assumption.
        Same thing with TSA. Shoe bomber? remove shoes. Underwear bomber? Get fondled.
        Healthcare issue, where some people don’t have healthcare? Don’t ask why just give it to them somehow. Too expensive? Pass laws limiting doctor salaries.
        I almost want to say that lawyers seem to like these sorts of solutions…pass a law and voila! by decree everything falls into place with no unintended consequences. But some lawyers are smarter than that.

  • Yeah, it’s not like actively trying to saboatge a war for political purposes  (the Dems have quite the history of doing that as a matter of fact)

    • Maybe more than you realize – like, back to the days of the Nazis versus the Soviet Union….

    • You mean like going along with the Iraq war and then cheering for the insurgents?  I wonder if these people would, by the same logic, admit that the Democrats relied on the war going badly to regain power.
       

    • I just read the book Redcoats and Rebels, which is about the American revolution. You would be amazed at how many British Whigs supported the rebels and cheered their own defeats. Then again, they may not have viewed Americans as really foreigners.

  • Jim Hoft demolished Ygiggie the other day, and I point out that LYING is what the Collective does when its madness fails…yet again…to do what they say it will.
    It’s all they have…

  • A little research shows the circulation of Washington Monthly is only 18,000.  Reading Benen’s piece and the comments that followed, we can see why.  It appears the Democratic Underground might be too neutral a source, and not partisan enough,  for these guys.
    Are we sure Journolist is no longer alive.  This looks to be the beginnings of a story line that will try to force concessions from the House to allow the President and the Senate to continue to set the agenda.   This storyline will fail because the House Republicans are well aware of their charter to reduce spending and not raise taxes.  They are well aware that failure there will through a bunch of them back to obscurity.
    The Republicans have a vested interest in getting the economy going again.  Do so with conservative ideas will be a political winner.  The Keynesian economics and liberal ideas have failed miserably.  Benen does not want to admit this, but it is obvious.  If we were to tell Benen the four largest banks in the US are actually bankrupt because the home equity loans alone are worth just about $0 while being carried on the books at 80%, he would try to tell us the Dodd Frank Finance bill was designed to fix that and it it didn’t, it would be all the Republicans fault for obstructing the bill.  That will only work to show how much of a hack Benen is.
     
    The mission statement: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com//inside/about.html is hysterical.  It is absurdly pompous and self aggrandizing.  Benen is exactly in keeping with that mission statement.

    • Journolist is definitely still alive at least in spirit. It just went underground.
      No one got fired, why would they stop now?

  • Do the rules not apply to the GOP? The GOP can easily lose if they also don’t deliver. I would bet there is a good chance the GOP Congress cannot deliver growth and may very well be punished electorally for it.
    This is why I suggest first attempting a growth package, separate from a structural deficit package. Let the Democrats veto it, via Senate or President, and make them show their cards. After that then offer a structural deficit packaged, which will also be shut down. Don’t try to combine them in some huge bill. We have seen how that works out, and since the GOP only controls Congress they couldn’t do it anyways.
    In fact, I would suggest the GOP be very clear, that unless a growth package is not obstructed by the Democrats, then they will not put forward a structural deficit package.  ” We would tried to create private sector growth without touching entitlements. Even that was obstructed. We are prepared to also work on the structural deficit, but until the people have clearly spoken in an election, we feel it will not be politically feasible to do this.”
     

  • You might then take steps to stop the Federal Reserve from trying to lower the unemployment rate. You’d also no doubt want to create massive economic uncertainty by vowing to gut the national health care system, promising to re-write the rules overseeing the financial industry, vowing re-write business regulations in general, considering a government shutdown, and even weighing the possibly of sending the United States into default.
    You might want to cover your tracks a bit, and say you have an economic plan that would help — a tax policy that’s already been tried — but you’d do so knowing that such a plan has already proven not to work.
    Does any of this sound familiar?

    Boy, does it ever!

  • This is the same meme that has been used by the Global Warmist’s.
    Now it’s just “Economist Deniers”

  • It seems to me that after spending the first half of Obama’s term blaming Bush for the poor economy, the left plans to spend the second half of it blaming the rest of the GOP.

  • There is a certain awesome chutzpah to that.
    “If you wanted to hurt America you’d introduce uncertainty by trying to roll back the biggest increase in government in ages [and the uncertainty involved in “waivers” that come and go arbitrarily]!”