Crass Ass Conservatism: The Real Republican Pledge to America

Paul Krugman wrote yesterday in the New York Times about the failure of the Obama administration to propose a large enough stimulus plan to combat the financial crisis the administration underestimated.

While admitting that the Recovery Act made things better than they would have been—he estimated unemployment would be near 12% without it—Krugman called the stimulus a “political catastrophe.”  “Voters respond to facts,” he said, “not counterfactuals, and the perception is that the administration’s policies have failed.”

He also said this:

The tragedy here is that if voters do turn on Democrats, they will in effect be voting to make things even worse.

The resurgent Republicans have learned nothing from the economic crisis, except that doing everything they can to undermine Mr. Obama is a winning political strategy.

It appears that we won’t have to wait until next January to find out if Krugman is right.  This morning on Morning Joe, I heard Major Garrett point out that Republican Mitch McConnell admitted to National Journal magazine the following:

MCCONNELL: We need to be honest with the public. This election is about them, not us. And we need to treat this election as the first step in retaking the government. We need to say to everyone on Election Day, “Those of you who helped make this a good day, you need to go out and help us finish the job.”

NATIONAL JOURNAL: What’s the job?

MCCONNELL: The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

We have seen the de facto head of the Republican Party and conservative movement, Rush Limbaugh, in orgasmic anticipation, wish for the President of the United States to fail.

We have seen the de facto head of the Tea Party movement, Jim DeMint, say, with militaristic glee, that, “If we’re able to stop Obama…it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”

And now we see the Republican Minority Leader in the United States Senate, Mitch McConnell, admit to the world, with uncharacteristic honesty, that the “most important thing” on his plate for the next two years is to make sure Republicans gain power.

What more evidence does anyone need that it is not only dumb to put Republicans back in charge of the government, it is dangerous?

This is Republican patriotism, my friends. Crass ass conservatism.

[Krugman photo: Jessica Kourkounis—The New York Times]

The Prince And The Prince Of Peace

Now that the Democrats have squandered an illusory 60-vote majority in the Senate, one that wasn’t really manageable considering Joe Lieberman had a man crush on John McCain and other hawkish Republicans, and considering he is as phony as an Allen Shirley guest column, it’s time to try a new strategy of governance.

While I will leave it up to legislative gurus to figure out a way to advance through Congress an agenda that Democrats can be proud of, I want to address something that has bothered me at least since the false-patriot Rush Limbaugh uttered the F-word—failure—regarding Obama’s presidency.

Make no mistake about it, I am a great admirer of the president.  I worked to get him votes; I defended him before angry voters; I supported his initial conciliatory approach to governance, in which he tried to transcend normal partisan politics and forge coalitions to get things done.  I have written many times in his defense over the past several months.  His thoughtfulness, his deliberation,  and his willingness to wait until he has all the facts before he acts are part of a style I love and appreciate.

But, I am now waiting for Obama to channel his inner Machiavelli. At least a little bit. I realize that Jesus is likely Obama’s model of behavior, and I realize that it probably isn’t in his nature to actually apply Machiavellian principles of princely behavior to his presidency.

However, I suggest that perpetually “turning the other cheek” in today’s political environment will lead to failure.  And it didn’t work out too well for Jesus, either.  His earthly career ended in ignominy, hanging from a crossbeam outside the city walls, naked and defeated.

While I am not asking Obama to fundamentally change his personality, I am asking him to at least consider two pieces of Machiavelli’s advice:

He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.

It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.

Obama’s administration began with Rush Limbaugh’s famous, “I want Obama to fail” remarks and his flirtation with moving to New Zealand—which not one Republican politician had the balls God gave man to protest—continuing through Jim DeMint’s “Waterloo” comment, in which the creepy religious fanatic masquerading as a U.S Senator pledged that killing health care would be the end of Obama. 

Last summer, we endured the spectacle of so-called “angry” voters, who voiced such anger in terms fit for a World Wrestling Federation event.  We endured swastika-covered placards; voodoo-priest images; messages that Obama was a fascist, socialist, communist, and racist; charges that Obama was not a U.S. citizen, that his presidency was not legitimate and that he wanted to destroy America.  

To top it all off, we endured the embarrassment of a rude, unruly, disrespectful Congressman Joe Wilson shouting, “You lie!” during an Obama speech to a joint session of Congress.

Obama, of course, largely ignored the anger, at least publicly.  He, of course, accepted the congressman’s apology without highlighting the uncivility.  And, of course, last night Obama phoned Scott Brown, who defeated Martha Coakley, to “congratulate” him.

Why?  Why ignore the Tea Party anger?  Why accept Wilson’s apology without using it to embarrass those who hate Obama? Why congratulate Brown so soon? There would have been plenty of time to shake his hand and offer his congratulations. Why last night?

He congratulated a man who opposes nearly every social value that Obama holds dear; he congratulated a man who publicly suggested Obama was a bastard child; he congratulated a man who has pledged to join a small but fanatic group of Republicans who are hell-bent on seeing to it that Obama’s administration will be the failure that Rush Limbaugh famously wished for and predicted.

Why give such an unworthy opponent immediate recognition and instant credibility?

Anyway, we now have the spectacle of a teabagger capturing the seat of Ted Kennedy, who surely must be scratching and clawing on his coffin lid to get out and demand a do-over.  But ironically, despite a poor campaign and some gaffes by the Democratic candidate, Ted Kenney’s life-long issue—health care reform—proved to be the defining issue of the Brown-Coakley campaign.

That didn’t have to happen.

Because of a noble, cautious, protracted approach—apparently approved by Obama—that dragged on much too long in an attempt to attract conservatives in the Democratic Party, not to mention fringe Republicans like Olympia Snowe, we have what we have today.

Because the White House chose a behind-the-scenes strategy of influencing the outcome of the health reform legislation rather than an open and direct and emphatic defense of an acceptable bill, we have what we have today.

Because of a calculated recognition of the difficulty of overcoming conservative opposition in both parties and a desire to get something passed, no matter how feeble, we have what we have today.

Because from the start the White House took off the table a single payer option and signaled that a strong public option wasn’t even an essential part of reform legislation, we have what we have today.

So, I ask:  What did all the soft-sell strategy accomplish?  We all understood the reality of the situation: There were just too many damn conservatives in the Senate to get the best bill.  But my problem is that the White House didn’t even put up a goddamn fight for one.  Thus, the other side recognized a palpable weakness, and as the calendar advanced, wily conservative Democrats sensed the opportunity to game the process.

All of this confounded liberals, those who put Obama in the White House by actually going out and convincing the much-vaunted “independents” to vote for him.  And some liberals, pissed off that their candidate was not fighting hard enough, unwisely threw up their hands and said “let the bill die.”  Or at least began to stop aggressively defending it against the lies being told constantly by Republicans at Town Halls and Tea Parties, broadcast faithfully by the Obama-hating Fox “News” channel, whose perpetuation of falsehoods about the bill and the “Obama is dangerous” meme came to be less and less challenged, too.

Even the feeble attempt by the White House to challenge Fox “News,” which initially had such promise, withered under the criticism of “mainstream” journalists, who incomprehensibly defended the network, despite the fact that Fox is undoubtedly destroying the line between journalism and propaganda and thus undermining the very journalists willing to defend the network.

Finally, although no one knows how this mess will play out, I will offer President Obama one final piece of advice from Machiavelli:

Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.

Hopefully, in the times to come, Obama will move forward with less “turn the cheek,” “Jesus meek and mild” reactions and be more like the Jesus who threw the moneychangers out of the temple.

Because Obama’s political enemies seek not only his office, but seek to destroy him and the promise and legitimacy of liberalism.

Rush Limbaugh and the Poisoning of America, Part 2

“I want the stimulus package to fail. ‘Cause if this thing for the first time ever does what it never has done before, we’re in even worse trouble. If it becomes established that the federal government and the federal government alone can manage the economy and take over the private sector, then forget it, folks. I’m looking for property in New Zealand, and I’m going to put my money in Singapore. I do not want this to succeed…” -–Rush Limbaugh, February 13, 2009

At last America’s Truth Detector has revealed the truth about himself: he loves “conservatism” more than country.

Not merely content that Obama personally fail as president, Rush now desires the failure of the stimulus plan. He obviously believes it would be better if more people lost their jobs and homes, more banks failed, and more businesses were forced into bankruptcy because these failures would vindicate his philosophy. Sadly, unemployment, insolvency, and liquidation, like Biblical rains, fall on the just and unjust, on liberals and conservatives.

But since the extremists on the right wing have abandoned any semblance of patriotism, they should consider going all the way and plead for the failure of the new administration’s foreign policy. At least they’d be consistent.

Perhaps conservatives won’t put it so starkly, but judging by the cavalier attitude toward the economy that most of them have displayed, it is only natural for some of us to speculate that they would want the United States to also suffer some kind of colossal international misfortune, like, say, WWIII, to prove that Obama is not worthy of the job.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, or some other bright light of the right, could say publicly that Obama’s approach to Iran—direct diplomacy—will inevitably fail, and then Limbaugh could take to the airwaves and say that he hopes it will fail, resulting in a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East. That’ll show the country that Republicans mean business.

Lest you think it outrageous, all House and most Senate Republicans, apparently energized by the insanely ideological rants of conservative commentators like Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, have gambled with their votes that Obama’s economic policies will fail. Indeed, many of them, no doubt, believe they must fail in order for Republicans to resurrect their party’s otherwise lifeless corpse in the 2010 congressional elections.

Gambling that the Democrats will make a mess of things may make Jethro in Joplin a happy culture-warrior, but it is not a responsible thing for an allegedly national political party to do. But the Party of Lincoln, now with its geographical roots firmly planted in the once-segregated South, and with its intellectual roots firmly planted in the reactionary, redneck brains of talk radio audiences, is fast becoming a regional party, with all the effectiveness and offensiveness of one.

Hopefully, someone in the Republican Party will emerge who will have the courage to dump Limbaugh and Hannity in favor of a realistic, truly conservative approach to politics, one in which patriotism trumps ideology. But don’t bet any of your stimulus money on it, because hell hath no fury like a demagogue scorned, especially one with access to millions of bubbabots, glued to their radio for the next message from the Man With Talent On Loan From God.

A thoughtful Republican (not yet, but fast becoming an oxymoron) should take advantage of Limbaugh’s latest display of national infidelity and call him on it, making him a laughingstock among real—that is, sane—conservatives. Otherwise, the Republicans are stuck with him as their de facto leader, a prospect that may bode well for Democrats, but diminishes our political discourse.

No one, with any patriotic sense, would publicly say that he hopes Obama’s foreign policies will fail. But neither would anyone, with any political sense, have advocated for the failure of his economic policies, as the bully of bull, Limbaugh, has done. So, don’t be surprised if on Limbaugh’s next comedy show he announces, “Obama is wrong on China, and I can’t wait for the nukes to pound us!”

And should that happen, the phosphorescent right wing survivors could emerge from their bunkers and take their country back.

Unfortunately for them, Rush may be in New Zealand.

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