The State Of The Union Is A Cryin’ Shame

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Nothing in recent history has galvanized the Republican party more than the back to back presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.  Bush, who has been deemed by historians as arguably one of the worst US presidents in history, did his party no favors in the public image department. 

And the very thought of Barack Obama, the United States’ first African-American president presiding over the Oval Office has driven today’s largely white Republican Party to distraction, eliciting characterizations of Obama as a witch doctor, a Muslim, a fraudulent foreign-born usurper, a Nazi, the evil mastermind behind a New World Order and a Communist among other things . . . not that they’re racist.

The aberrational and reactionary TEA Party wave of 2010 led demoralized congressional Republicans to believe that all was forgiven and that they had a popular mandate to kneecap Obama’s presidency by launching a full-out campaign to obstruct and undermine any of Obama’s policy efforts and initiatives. 

Unfortunately their nihilistic crusade has done measurable harm to the country and shows no sign of abating any time soon.

Republican’s anti-Obama tactics have run to things like blocking Obama’s efforts to speed the recovery from recession with jobs bills, refusing to staff the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the National Labor Relations Board, refusing to compromise on the Bush tax cuts.  Republicans even sought to block Obama’s cabinet and judicial nominations and appear to be obsessed with repealing Obamacare.

As time went on, hard Right purists and the conservative punditocracy deemed any sort of compromise signs of weakness and it has become de rigueur to take otherwise mundane governmental business hostage and make grandiose demands to buy Republican cooperation.

The GOP had no problem with throwing such monkey-wrenches into the system to see how much chaos could be wrought because it fit their “starve the beast” anti-government agenda and, at the same time, made the president appear emasculated in their base’s view. 

Jonathan Chait aptly dubbed this “procedural extremism” saying:

The Republican fringe has evolved from being politically shrewd proponents of radical policy changes to a gang of saboteurs who would rather stop government from functioning at all.

and:

The hard right’s extremism has bent back upon itself, leaving an inscrutable void of paranoia and formless rage and twisting the Republican Party into a band of anarchists.

. . . which is hardly an overstatement, in my opinion.

As a result, our economic recovery has been attenuated, global economic stability has been threatened by multiple manufactured fiscal crises around the US debt limit, the government was actually shut down and a backlog crisis was precipitated in our federal courts due to unfilled judicial vacancies.

All of those fiendishly clever tactics, however, did not force Americans to give up on President Obama or, worse yet, think a Republican would do better for them.  Indeed, Americans rewarded Obama with a second term for his pains.  I think that really baffled Republicans but, maybe the American people aren’t as gullible as Republican politicians would like to think.

Now, into his second term, Obama is understandably battered but certainly not “flailing” as Ron Fournier would have us believe.

Mr. Fournier indulges in a little bit of partisan wishful thinking to help him dismiss Obama’s presidency which still has three years to go:

The contradiction illustrates how far partisans will go to defend a flailing presidency, grasping at slogans and insults as a growing majority of Americans tune out. We witnessed a similar drama under President Bush, who set a low bar for public approval that Obama is close to matching.

Mr Fournier seems to be expecting that Obama will sink Democrats in the same way that George W. Bush sank Republicans—a false equivalency of epic proportion.

He’d be wrong to expect that and here’s why—Americans, by large margins, no longer trust Republicans.  Indeed, only 36% of Republicans trust Republicans.  And lack of trust is a huge handicap in American politics.

This year’s newly released Pew Research Center Survey of Policy and Priorities convinces me that Republicans would be much better served getting their own house in order than hoping that their continuing to bang away on Obama will do them any good electorally.

Here’s a snapshot of how Republicans, Democrats and Independents prioritize their policy focus:

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See how closely Democrats and Independents priorities track as opposed to Republicans?

But, far more important, in my opinion, are these “character trait” items cited in the Pew study:

Which party governs in a more ethical and honest way?  Democrats lead Republicans 41% to 31%

Which party is more willing to work with the other party?  Democrats lead Republicans by a whopping 25 points (52% to 27%)

Which party is more concerned with the needs of people like me?  Democrats 52%, Republicans 32%.

Which party is more extreme in their positions?  Republicans 54%, Democrats 35%.

Which party is more influenced by lobbyists?  Republicans 47%, Democrats 30%.

I believe that those numbers matter an awful lot and that if Republicans want to win national elections, any time soon, they need to address these perceptions.

Outreach doesn’t do any good if strategies, tactics and policies turn voters off.  And a state of the art GOTV ground game won’t yield much if the people on the ground don’t trust you to begin with.  They will continue to vote for the people they trust, that is, Democrats.

I suspect that Republicans will dismiss these results as somehow “skewed.” They’ll shake their heads, say things like “there’s nothing wrong with our message” and “both sides do it” and “what war on women?” and continue on their sad trudge toward political irrelevance.

Posted by Bette Noir on 01/28/14 at 03:45 PM • Permalink

Categories: PoliticsElection '14NuttersTeabaggery

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The state of the onion is driving me to tears!

A few days ago I heard a GOP strategist interviewed on local L.A. radio.  He was asked about some recent confab meant to analyze and revitalize the party, and he went on and on about who they had to reach and how to reach them.  But when the interviewer tried to pin him down about the *content* of the “message” they were sending, this clown either literally could not grasp the question, or simply refused to address it.

We still talk about these people as if they privately know better, but are consciously choosing—out of whatever calculation—to act in a way that alienates the electorate. 

But, as Charlie Pierce says, “these are the mole people.”  What if they literally don’t know any better?  What if the GOP has, by now, driven away the intelligent, the sane, and the honest, and consists almost entirely of the ignorant, the bigoted, the actually crazy, and the mendacious?

“So, nu?”  Yeah, and ha ha.  But seriously.

Mr. Wonderful heard what is basically the core rethug plan: talk about who they want to vote for them, but dance like crazy and never explain their policies, period, because they are no longer popular with the majority of citizens.  So, dance, point fingers, rave, ANYTHING except be honest about their plans.  I hope an increasing number of people finally see through it!

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