The Political Cliff

Less than two months ago, some of us thought Obama-ism was dead and an era of conservative ascendancy was at hand. If that sounds apocalyptic, well, blame the Mayans and the solstice. (And Karl Rove and Dick Morris.)

How the hardly-mighty have fallen! Mitt Romney is more secluded than Howard Hughes, leaving the Republicans with Mitch McConnell and John Boehner as the face of their party.

Oy.

If only Paul Ryan had thrown Boehner off that cliff instead of the invalid granny!

Patience, dear boys and girls, patience!

After the failed effort to get the fiscal cliff “Plan B” passed this week, some powerful conservatives on Capitol Hill are reportedly pushing for Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan to replace embattled House Speaker John Boehner.

On Friday night’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” fill-in host Laura Ingraham said her sources indicate a coup may already be underway in Congress.

“I had a well-placed conservative voice today on the Hill email me and said he’s beginning to hear rumblings — I already gave something away, ‘he’ — he’s beginning to hear of a move to replace the speaker of the House,” Ingraham said. “We’re in the middle of this tussle with the Democrats, more than a tussle, and is that the right time to put that out there? And people are floating the name of Paul Ryan to be House speaker. But Ryan did support … Plan B.”

There is policy, and there is politics. The GOP is right on policy—we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem—but hopelessly outmatched on the politics. Granted, it’s not fair when the media persistently depict your opponent as the Messiah, complete with halo…

… but at least you have to try!

Actually, I think Boehner had the politics right here, too. As counterproductive as it is to raise taxes in an economic slump (or moribund recovery), that’s where the sentiment of the people is. Obama may have used demagoguery to steer it that way, but he was reelected, and, to paraphrase Aggie, reelections have consequences.

Boehner’s Plan B would have let the Bush-era tax rates expire for people with incomes over a million dollars—the very millionaires whose wealth Obama wants to spread. Not quarter-millionaires (those earning $250,000): the real McCoys. Again, I disagree with the policy, but it makes a better argument. We gave you the millionaires you asked for, Mr. President; now what are you going to give the American people? Obama’s threatened veto, and Harry Reid’s refusal to even take it up, would at least have made it clear who were the stonewallers.

What an epic fail when he could not deliver. He may have been torpedoed by the Tea Partiers to his political right (with whom I am in broad agreement), but the failure was still his.

I have felt since the election that the Republicans need to re-brand. Not on policies—or not all policies, anyway—but on image. We are not a party of double-chinned, googly-eyed, cry-babies—or not all of us, anyway—but young men and women, some of color, who are as passionate about the direction of this country as any MoveOn or Code Pink activist.

Maybe this is the time and the opportunity to show that.

3 Comments »

  1. Bloodthirsty Liberal said,

    December 22, 2012 @ 8:47 am

    As usual, I’m more pessimistic than you, BTL. I just finished the Amis book on Stalinism that you recommended. Let me tell you something: Stalin murdered 20 million of his own citizens (taking the lead from both Lenin and Trotsky, both of whom enjoyed a good Terror), AND YET, he remained popular with the citizens until his death. He killed family members of every member of his own inner circle, and no one denounced him or attempted to remove him. The more he starved and shot and imprisoned and executed, the more they loved him. Our species has a flaw. We cannot always act in our own best interest. Boehner may be toast, but that doesn’t mean that the past 50 years of liberal economic policies will wind down.

    - Aggie

  2. Bloodthirsty Liberal said,

    December 22, 2012 @ 9:29 am

    Interesting, Aggie. Also interesting in the context of your series of posts on the young Obama voter.

    Think of how revered FDR was then and now. As a war time president, he got the job done (if there’s reason to criticize, I don’t know it). But as a Depression-era president, he was a failure. Sure, he made people feel better—but he accomplished nothing. (Sound familiar?) The Depression would have lasted as long as it damn-well liked, until the war intervened. Amity Schlaes (in her book, The Forgotten Man), and others, have pretty much proved the point that government intervention in the marketplace didn’t help, and possibly hurt, any chance of economic recovery. (Sound familiar?) All his quasi-socialist initiatives just fed the quasi-socialist appetite of the Left at the time. (Sound familiar?) The WPA and the CCC may have left behind tangible results of their efforts, but they did not fix the economy. Just like Obama’s ARRA.

    And a stubborn Supreme Court led both presidents to try to bully their way through, with Roosevelt going so far as to try to pack the Court with additional justices (beyond the traditional nine) more sympathetic to his agenda.

    We are a flawed species, Aggie, just as you say. Sometimes our flaws end in the bangs of purges, famines, and genocide; and sometimes they end in the whimpers of failed and foolish leaders taking us down dead ends of fiscal folly. Let’s just hope this is an example of the latter.

  3. Buck O'Fama said,

    December 22, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

    Politicians of both parties, like the media, are basically useless – after all, it was Bush who gave us Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind. Federal spending has more than doubled since 2000, and a lot of that was with the GOP in control of Congress.

    Remember the Challenger disaster? Many engineers knew of the problems with the Shuttle and tried to warn their superiors but the top brass just stuck their fingers in their ears and sang “LA LA LA LA, I can’t hear you, so you’re not there.” It took a televised disaster and the loss of 7 lives to change the mindset. That’s what a kick-the-can-down-the-road mentality gets you.

    That episode is a microcosm of where the economy is now. Nothing will be done because dealing with problems is not a political winner. November 6 proved that. So, we’ll just muddle along pretending until disaster strikes. Forget about the powers-that-be doing anything for the good of the country; make your own preparations as best you can because all there is.

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