Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: August 11, 2010


No wonder Congressional Dems want to run against George Bush

Because, according to Rasmussen, their agenda is considered by a good majority of likely voters to be "extreme":

Most U.S. voters believe the Democratic congressional agenda is extreme, while a plurality describe the Republican agenda as mainstream.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters think the agenda of Democrats in Congress is extreme. Thirty-four percent (34%) say it is more accurate to describe the Democratic agenda as mainstream.

That’s the message. And how is it received. Well, one of the more useful things Rasmussen does is also show us the poll of what it calls the "political class". I.e. our betters inside the beltway who certainly have a much better feeling of what is in our best interests than we do. Rasmussen compares the "Political Class" with the "Mainstream voters, and demonstrates the size of the disconnect we suffer under:

The Political Class, however, has dramatically different views of the agendas of the two parties from what Mainstream voters think. Ninety-one percent (91%) of the Political Class say the Democratic agenda in Congress is in the mainstream, but 70% of Mainstream voters see that agenda as extreme.

You may be asking yourself how it is 57% in one paragraph and 70% in the next.  The top number are Mainstream voters and the Political Class added together.  The second number is Mainstream voters alone.

And yes, the gulf is huge.  It explains the anger in America and the cluelessness in Washington.  The Political Class think they’re doing the people’s work.  The people think the Political Class is a bunch of elitists bent on taking more and more control and ignoring what the people actually want.

Moving on to the “Republican agenda” (which I’d love to see stated somewhere) the results are quite different:

Voters are more narrowly divided when it comes to the agenda of congressional Republicans. Forty-five percent (45%) of voters view the GOP agenda as mainstream, but nearly as many (40%) say it’s more accurate to call it extreme. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.

But again, when you break it out by Mainstream voters and Political Class, the numbers widen:

While 53% of Mainstream voters see the Republican congressional agenda as in the mainstream, 81% of Political Class voters regard it as extreme.

So among Mainstream voters, the GOP agenda enjoys a slight majority.  Among the Political Class – not so much.  My guess is you would also find a close association between Mainstream voters and Political Class and Tea Parties and Progressives.

~McQ

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The Republicans are lost: a continuing saga

It looks like the GOP might very well take back the House this fall. They even have an outside shot at the Senate. If some of the dynamics, such as the results in Missouri last week, continue to move in their direction, this could be an historic election.

My reaction to that is basically “So what?”

As I’ve said before, when it comes to any serious change in direction for the country, the current crop of Republicans is not the solution, they’re part of the problem.

It’s no better now than when I wrote the earlier post. The oleoginous Cantor is still in the House leadership. You can seem him in a picture associated with this article in the Washington Examiner, which points out that the GOP has absolutely no idea what to do if they happen to get back the Congress.

To me, the following sentence in that article was most telling:

Some young House Republicans have put out a call for voters to e-mail their ideas.

In other words, even the newest current GOP members of Congress don’t have a clue what to do.

If these young Congressmen are sincere, it means they’re unqualified for their jobs. Why are they doing in their seats if they don’t have a clue what to do to lead the country?* Plus, you can sum up what should be their highest priority in two words: cut spending. There are already plenty of ideas on how to do that, and if they need more, placing a list of federal programs on a dartboard and throwing darts would probably work pretty well.

Their second highest priority can also be expressed in two words: repeal Obamacare. Among Republican politicians, that one should not even be controversial. All the polls we’ve seen say that Republican voters are foresquare for that option.

The more likely interpretation of their email appeal, though, is that it’s just a cynical way to look as though they are listening to their constituents. They know they aren’t going to do anything of importance, but they’re too cowardly to admit it.

So they’re just playing politics as usual, every chance they get. Here’s another example, in which you can see Cantor railing about Rangel and his ethics violations:

Personally, I think “Chollie” Rangle is a snake, but I get a lot less incensed over his extra apartments than I do over the fact that he has spent forty years trying to figure out ways to take money from people he doesn’t like and give it to people he does. That, plus his complete indifference to the long term damage to American society of those thefts.

Likewise, this “drain the swamp” rhetoric from Republicans like Cantor means nothing to me. I consider the revolving door between politicians and high-paid lobbyists to be just as ethically wrong as more direct means of appropriating other people’s money. We’ve seen people like Trent Lott use that door recently, and I’m expecting Cantor to use it at some point later in his life. So of course, he’s not going to say anything about that problem, and that makes his lamentations about Rangel nothing more than political theater.

It’s all intended to paper over the problem that the current crop of Republicans is clueless about where to go from here. The know if they just go through the motions, as Cantor is doing above, they’ll probably get back control and the perqs that go with it. So, in their minds, why should they risk such a windfall from the Democrat’s blunders? Why should they actually stand up for proposals that might really make a difference but are guaranteed to make some constituency mad and endanger their chances of recovering Congressional dominance?

For establishment Republicans, the name of the game is not leading the country. It’s gaining and holding onto power. That, of course, is why so many of us see so little difference between the parties – the Democrats have the exact same goal.

The time is almost certainly coming when that game makes our economic and political system so unstable that establishment politicans get their playing field yanked out from under them. However, I don’t think more than one in ten of them have the imagination to envision such an outcome, and the rest are just hoping to push it down the road until they’re gone. It’s going to have to get a lot worse before establishment GOP politicans either wake up or get kicked to the curb.

Until then, enjoy the football game this November, and cheer for your team as you watch the election returns, but understand that we won’t get any difference that really matters. Yes, Obama’s hard left ideology will be blunted, and I also prefer divided government to what we have now. But the big goal is reversal, and we’re just not yet in bad enough shape for that to happen. A GOP victory this fall just means a small delaying action against the coming reckoning.

After all, the Republicans could repeal Obamacare, sell off huge government interests in automotive and finance industries, cut a trillion dollars in spending and they would be… back where we were nineteen months ago when Obama took office. I consider it preposterous that they’ll even do a fraction of that.

We’ll have to do much, much more to regain a stable long term government, because the debt bomb ticks louder every month. Social Security and Medicare are going to blow up in our faces; the math and demographics are simply inescapable.

I’d like to be optimistic and presume that the GOP is working to establish a base, and gearing up for serious action after hopefully winning the White House back in 2012. But I’m not. They’re just floating along, riding their perqs, and waiting for the Democrats to keep looking bad. Based on everything I’ve seen about the establishment GOP, they never intend to do anything that seriously reverses the growth of spending and debt. Even if a Pawlenty or Daniels were sitting in the White House, these drones in Congress like Cantor are never going to take the risky and painful actions needed to avert the consequences of too-large-and-ever-growing government.

(*) I ask this rhetorically, of course. Many of them are members of the parasitic political class, and considerations of how to lead the country had little or nothing to do with their decision to run.


Gibbs lights a fire (update)

As presidential spokesmen go, Robert Gibbs is among the worst I’ve ever seen. Yesterday, without provocation or necessity, he proved the point – he picked a fight with what he calls, "the professional left". That would be the part of the progressive left that has been pounding Obama for not being "progressive" enough. Not being progressive enough is exemplified by the lack of a public option in the health care bill, gay marriage, DADT, and Guantánamo Bay.

Said Gibbs in an interview with The Hill, Gibbs said of the criticism from that quarter:

“I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.”

On healthcare:

“They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”

[…]

“They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”

I don’t know about you, but I have gotten a huge chuckle out of his comments.  Now they know how Joe Lieberman felt (while his boss was piling on at the time).  But grins and chuckles aside, this points to something many people have noted about this White House – it is as thin skinned as any I’ve ever seen. 

Gibbs is a true believer – he’d have to be to say much of what he does each day.  And he is only the most visible of a bunch of true believers who work within the inner circles of the administration.  They cannot believe that those who should be their ideological soul mates are constantly criticizing them.  For instance, much of the “professional left” has criticized the administration’s two Supreme Court appointees for not being liberal enough.

My goodness – they’re women and one is of Hispanic heritage.  What more do they want!  They’ve hit all of the “progressive” diversity buttons and those people want more!

As for the “professional left” they’re in a frenzy today (well, name a day they’re not in a frenzy).

Firedoglake:

Maybe Mr. Gibbs it’s because the unions are losing power and you aren’t helping us. Maybe it’s because finance reform does little to impact those suffering from out and out mortgage fraud. Maybe it’s because medical costs and insurance are too high.

[…]

It seems to me that while your administration has put a bandaid on my gaping 10-inch surgical wound, you have done very little to treat the underlying problem that corporate America has too much control over our lives. We want to see you fight corporate America, not bloody the eyes of left-wing liberals and then kick us to the curb calling us drug addicts if we complain.

Because “corporate America” is the real villain.

John Aravosis, who admits to doing “dirty work” for the Obama campaign when they requested it:

The left isn’t upset with the President because we’re just too darned demanding. We’re upset with Barack Obama because he never seems to try. He talks a good talk, but when it comes time to actually follow through on his promises, he winces.

Point Aravosis.  Something many of us have noticed and commented on.  It’s called lack of leadership.  But hey, “dirty work” Aravosis helped put the man in the position so my sympathy is limited, if non-existent.  Because of the John Aravosis’ of the world, we’re stuck with this administration for two more years.

Jane Hamsher says the problem is Obama:

Gibbs does the only thing you can do when trying to defend a record of corporatist capitulation: triangulate against your critics as extremists. But the fact is, the positions Obama has abandoned aren’t the exclusive territory of Dennis Kucinich. Standing up to the banks and the insurance companies, reducing the political influence of corporate money, defending Social Security and ending the wars are issues that are broadly popular with the American public. That’s why Obama campaigned on them in order to pave his way to the White House.

And she notes:

Gibbs’ slam on progressives just as the August break begins means that Congressional Democrats across the country are going to have to bear the brunt of his comments as they try to whip up enthusiasm for their campaigns. They’re going to have to explain why they deserve support even as the White House holds progressives in contempt. Progressives are the people who volunteer, who donate, who vote, and the polls show a serious enthusiasm gap. Members of Congress are already angry that the president blames “Washington DC” for the country’s ills, and that’s a group that includes them. Pissing off the base like this isn’t going to help — it’s a self-indulgent, petty and ill-timed move.

The biggest problem faced by Democrats, if primary turnouts are any indication, is a lack of enthusiasm.  This particular bone-headed (but welcome) move doesn’t help that problem at all.

Which is what Digby at Hullabaloo also points out:

There is also a case to be made that the Democratic establishment should be concerned about enthusiasm — that the activist base needs to be handled with a little bit more respect because they are the ones who knock on doors and make the calls. There’s something to that, of course, particularly in the mid-terms which depend so heavily on getting the base out.

But what’s dangerously myopic about going ballistic as Gibbs did in his statements is that just 10 years ago we had a little event in which only a tiny portion of the base went with a third party bid from the left — and the consequences were catastrophic. Democrats, of all people, should remember that every vote matters.

Indeed.  So it is interesting that the frustration with their base boils over at the most inappropriate time of all.  Message discipline – something at which the Obama campaign was very good – seems to have become a lost art within the White House.  Instead their immaturity is more and more evident every day.  As Ezra Klein points out, when compared to Ronald Reagan, Obama’s poll ratings are almost exactly the same.  Yet we see this whining petulance from the likes of Gibbs which obviously mirrors his boss.  If Reagan was bothered by his critics, his critics surely never knew that.  It’s called “maturity” and “leadership”.

Of course course Gibbs is “walking back” on his comments, calling them “inartful”.  Hate to tell you buddy, but your entire tenure as White House press secretary has been the definition of “inartful”.

And, of course, this will all blow over.  Despite Digby’s implied threat that some of the “professional left” could seek a third party on the left, that’s not going to happen.  Like co-dependent drug addicts (speaking of drug testing) these two groups need and depend on each other.  The “professional left” with whine about the White House and the White House will whine about them.  But when push comes to shove, the professional left will line up behind their only choice.  Maybe not in the numbers they could once muster, but still there.

Meanwhile, righteous rants will continue on the lefty blogs, hurt feelings will be displayed, promises about not supporting Obama anymore will be made and then forgotten.  Like I said, these folks really don’t have anywhere else to go.

UPDATE: What would a post on the “professional left” be without a word from Keith Olberman (via Ragspierre in comments):

~McQ

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