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Leading The Elephants To The Slaughter

by danps Sat May 10th, 2008 at 05:32:59 AM EST

The Republican party is facing another bad election cycle.  Some of the reason is simply the stars aligning against it, but the larger reason is the miserable results of its policies.

For more on pruning back executive power see Pruning Shears.


Considering how much attention mass media has spent on electoral politics it has missed the elephant in the room (pardon the pun):  The extreme peril of the Republican Party.  Almost all coverage is now on the Democratic primary, and the least likely (and most dramatic) scenarios are getting the most focus.  But here is what seems most likely:  The candidates fight it out, a winner emerges in the next month or so and emotions peak.  Everyone takes the summer off, spends some time at the beach with a good book, and returns at the end of August tanned, rested and ready to crank up an energetic election campaign.  Meanwhile, each contested state gets two industrial strength Democratic voter registration machines rolling through, extends the Democratic monopoly of the news cycle and sharpens the campaigning skills of the eventual nominee.

For Republicans, that is the bad news.  The worse news is that the math this time around is horrible, and the early indications are dismal (via).  They have 29 House members retiring this year, and it didn't get that high by accident.  Losing as an incumbent has to be one of the worst events for a politician; it is a rejection and a humiliation - it is the voters saying "we tried you out and found you wanting."  It also usually comes with about a ten year setback.  You don't just bounce to some more prestigious office, you either take some time off or seek refuge in an appointed position.  Then you slowly begin your rehabilitation.  Many Republicans think now is a good time to take a powder, and by doing so they could be viable next time.  It looks similarly bad (annoying trendy word for this election: optics) in the Senate.  Republicans are defending 23 seats to the Democrats' 12; even if the GOP was wildly popular it would simply have to cover more territory.

I've saved the worst for last.  The preceding can be seen as nothing more than the vagaries of the horse race, the calendar and random chance.  Fortunes wax and wane, and sometimes parties succeed just because.  It is like the stock market, which moves sometimes in response to specific data and sometimes for reasons that are too complex to understand.  (I will have unyielding admiration for the first newscaster who has the honesty and courage to say "Stocks closed higher today.  God alone knows why.")  Republicans can talk their way out of a situation like that.  It is their great misfortune that it is also accompanied by the total collapse of their principles.

Republicans held all the levers of power in Washington for six years.  They turned budget surpluses into huge deficits, which put pressure on the dollar.  The financial industry's house of cards got blown down and the Federal Reserve cut rates to head off a recession.  That put even more pressure on the dollar.  Its value sank against other currencies, and investors have taken refuge in commodities, driving those prices up.  Republicans' aggressive, swaggering foreign policy has shot uncertainty through the market, driving (dollar denominated) oil to record highs.  Simply put, their policies have put us in a position where we can't deficit spend, can't lower prices, can't cut rates and can't do much to restore value to our currency.  Even simpler, every time you fill up your tank or buy a loaf of bread you pay the Bush Tax.

Tom Delay was described admiringly as "The Hammer" for his ability to get Republicans to approve these policies.  It was a fun party while it lasted but the bill has come due.  We have structural problems that won't go away easily or quickly, and voters have reasonably concluded which party bears the most blame.  Even after they lost Congress last year they marched in lockstep behind the President as he continued a massively unpopular war.  I have been very critical of the Democrats at times for not standing up to bullying from the White House, but the GOP has been far worse.  They have pledged fealty to leaders dedicated to profligacy, incompetence and secrecy.  They have unstintingly supported the administration's grotesque streak of sadism (see this week's illustration(via)), and declared themselves to be Republican before American.  None of these issues will be eclipsed by manufactured talking points or trivial narratives.  The effects of their governance are plainly and painfully before the country's eyes on (literally) a daily basis, and that is not going away before November.  A handful of conservatives such as Andrew Sullivan recognized the new direction and forcefully rejected it (some recent examples), and they will be the intellectual inheritors when the time comes to rebuild.  The party is in the process of self-immolation, and those who stepped away in disgust have no obligation to commit Sati.

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thanks danps, for a well written appraisal.

they've been led to the abbatoir by the illusions peddled as givens by the likes of reagan and gingrich, with the gangrenous appendage of the neocons for added necrosity.

they deserve everything they get, (not talking about the cushy def industry non-jobs they'll take after getting the boot).

having said that, i expect the survivors to rewrite the book on obstructionism, bought and sold as they are...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 08:38:33 AM EST
Thanks for the kind words.

They are trying obstructionism now - we'll see how it plays.  If they get punished at the ballot box they may decide it isn't worth it to filibuster everything.

by danps (dan at pruningshears (dot) us) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 09:18:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Reps know they may well be screwed.  It's not a mystery.  Gingrich is now out telling them that not even McCain can save them, and with the help of his own fuck-ups they may well actually sink him and hand victory to Obama on a silver platter.  Another prominent Republican noted that the current polling numbers for McCain -- taken at a time when Dems have been tearing into each other, and when issues like Wright have been big -- may be about as good as it gets for him, and that he has nowhere to go but down.  I'm not sure I buy that, because his "maverick" status has been built up by the press for so long, but it's possible.  Their one bullet was Wright, and it has been dodged.

I saw that Liddy Dole is losing her race with Kay Hagan in the North Carolina Senate race now, and that Obama and McCain were tied in NC at the peak of Pastorgate.  (O's poll numbers are now close to full recovery.)  That would be huge.  And, if Dems can pick up this House seat in Mississippi on Tuesday, the Reps are going to be in panic mode.  The Dems could pick up a huge, and growing, number of Senate seats, because so many are in states that Obama plays well in (especially the Plains and the Mountain West).

With the Dem primary pretty much finished, the Reps are going to be freaking out.  Their hope was an increasingly bitter and protracted primary that led to a fight on the floor in Denver.  I was betting they'd get that, but with Wolfson, Chief Clintard Strategist, now shopping for book deals; with Terry McAwful admitting it'll be done by early June; and with the DLC crowd now whining constantly about Hillary having earned the right to be asked on the Veep slot; I'm inclined to think the Clintstones know it's over.

Oh, and the GOP is broke.  The Dems are swimming in cash.

Run the "100 Year in Iraq" ads nonstop, slam any ad about Wright with a "Catholicism is the Great Whore" ad about Hagee, and continuously point to The Iraq Recession.  McCain will snap, and the Reps will squeal like the pigs they are.  And when they do that, run the ads more.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 11:23:11 AM EST
The lobbyist McShitforBrains chose to run the Republican Convention in September, Doug Goodyear, just resigned after Newsweek published a story about the Myanmar junta paying him $350,000.

The Republican Party: Because you can't make this stuff up.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 08:52:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Better yet: He was paid that amount to make the junta look better with a PR campaign.  The message?  That Bush was a liar.

This is just too good.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 09:06:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But with the tradmed doing a love-in for McCain he doesn't really need money. He just tells them the stories he wants to read and they yuk it up for him.

They'll hide his every inconsistency, his every misstep, mis-speaking. You name it, whatever we learn on dKos will remain largely unknown to the american public.

They'll lie and lie to venerate him whilst trashing Obama with every smear and invention Drudge and Rove can conjure up.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 09:22:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The love-in is as expected.  It's no different from 2004, except to say that we have a lot more money than McCain.  And we nearly won in 2004 in a much less favorable climate.  We can beat the love-in.

I'm also telling you that McCain is going to be in deep shit once we start ramping up those "100 Years" ads that Dean has been stockpiling.  Those ads, according to his research, send McCain's favorable down the toilet with Indies and even many Reps once they see them.

And we've got Wright covered.  It's played-out.  As I said, that was what the Reps were hoping would be the magic bullet against Obama, and it failed miserably at every point, whether in the primaries or in special elections at the congressional level.  All that, and the issue of Hagee keeps hanging over McCain's head.  Trust me when I say a 527 is going to pick that "Great Whore" comment up and club McCain with it from Indiana to Michigan to Pennsylvania.

McCain may also catch some very bad press for this Goodyear/Myanmar thing, which only hit the news media last night.  If that has legs, it's going to shine a massive light on his lobbyist ties.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 12:07:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
100 years? Wud?



When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 12:37:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope, this is it:



Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 01:57:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That ad, by the way, is why I suspect you've seen McCain's polling drop to 40%, while Obama's back into the high-40s to low-50s.  And it's only running in a few markets with little regularity.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 02:02:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The camera angle is brilliant, it makes Mc Cain look like the hunchback of Notre Dame.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 02:17:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and the images of the war with the costs running across the screen are very good.  The ad could be even more hard-hitting, but this is a very good start.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 02:39:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just showing my age.  Very reminiscent of the late '70s (I'm in grad school working on a solar energy thesis); Carter gets in with a great sigh of relief and hope for change from the Nixon/Ford years; Carter inherits all of the crap from the past AND GETS BLAMED FOR IT!; on comes Reagan and the rest is recent history.

Will history repeat itself?

PS Yup, back again.  Beer's on Helen.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 07:57:58 PM EST
Will history repeat itself?

It could.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 10:05:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great points, and it could happen.  A couple of differences that could be big though:  Democrats controlled Congress through the 70's so they could be blamed by the right.  And Vietnam had ended by then, and the "Dems wouldn't let us finish the job" line had already started.  This time around Republicans have full ownership of the mess and an ongoing war that everyone wants to end.  
by danps (dan at pruningshears (dot) us) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 08:20:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well in that case it will be "we were just on the point of turning it around and winning, when the dems betrayed us"

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 08:39:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two things we didn't have back then were the Internet and ... catch this ... ET.  I don't expect the US media (other than Olbermann and Amy Goodman) to keep accurate score on what causes what (soaring higher prices and shortages finally hitting the US marketplace, as an example) but ET could be a GREAT source of commentary, being economics based and all.

Question for you folks:  Has ET's influence noticeably spread to either Olbermann's or Goodman's telecasts?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 10:45:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, it's been a long time since the Democrats have been a lot better than the Republicans. Both parties have been bought and sold. I get little comfort from prospects of a Democrat win, although I will vote for their candidate, having no better choice.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 10:09:14 PM EST


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