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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Nation of Spoiled Brats
Posted by Jill | 9:12 AM
Eugene Robinson:
According to polls, Americans are in a mood to hold their breath until they turn blue. Voters appear to be so fed up with the Democrats that they're ready to toss them out in favor of the Republicans -- for whom, according to those same polls, the nation has even greater contempt. This isn't an "electoral wave," it's a temper tantrum.

It's bad enough that the Democratic Party's "favorable" rating has fallen to an abysmal 33 percent, according to a recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. It's worse that the Republican Party's favorability has plunged to just 24 percent. But incredibly, according to Gallup, registered voters say they intend to vote for Republicans over Democrats by an astounding 10-point margin. Respected analysts reckon that the GOP has a chance of gaining 45 to 60 seats in the House, which would bring Minority Leader John Boehner into the speaker's office.

My guess is that with a decided advantage in campaign funds, along with the other advantages of incumbency, Democrats will be able to mitigate these prospective losses -- perhaps even relieving Nancy Pelosi of the hassles of moving. But there's no mistaking the public mood, and the truth is that it makes no sense.

The nation demands the impossible: quick, painless solutions to long-term, structural problems. While they're running for office, politicians of both parties encourage this kind of magical thinking. When they get into office, they're forced to try to explain that things aren't quite so simple -- that restructuring our economy, renewing the nation's increasingly rickety infrastructure, reforming an unsustainable system of entitlements, redefining America's position in the world and all the other massive challenges that face the country are going to require years of effort. But the American people don't want to hear any of this. They want somebody to make it all better. Now.

If Americans want to know why Washington is dysfunctional, they should look in the mirror. Ever since Ronald Reagan sold them the perfect free lunch of supply-side economics, Americans have bought hook line and sinker that you can have everything -- increased spending, tax cuts -- and it's all free, or at the very least, it doesn't matter, because the magic hand of God will make sure it all works out and that even the lowliest janitor will someday, by sheer dint of hard work, be invited to join the captains of industry for brandy and cigars in the wood-paneled room at the restricted country club. Any sane person would have realized that this was horsepuckey -- and many of us did. But today, even though the actual social policies of Ronald Reagan would make him anathema to the very teabaggers who extol his memory, his ghost still permeates Republican policies.

That's where it began, and the final nail was put into the coffin of America not even with the election of George W. Bush, but in 1984, when Walter Mondale stood up in front of the assembled delegates at the Democratic National Convention and a nationwide audience, and said "Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won't tell you. I just did."

For the record, here is what Mr. Mondale said twenty-six years ago. Substitute "Bush" for "Reagan", and he could be talking about 2008, and on into today:
One last word to those who voted for Mr. Reagan.

I know what you were saying. But I also know what you were not saying.

You did not vote for a $200 billion deficit.

You did not vote for an arms race.

You did not vote to turn the heavens into a battleground.

You did not vote to savage Social Security and Medicare.

You did not vote to destroy family farming.

You did not vote to trash the civil rights laws.

You did not vote to poison the environment.

You did not vote to assault the poor, the sick, and the disabled.

And you did not vote to pay fifty bucks for a fifty-cent light bulb.

Four years ago, many of you voted for Mr. Reagan because he promised you'd be better off. And today, the rich are better off. But working Americans are worse off, and the middle class is standing on a trap door.

Lincoln once said that ours is to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. What we have today is a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. And we're going to make a change in November. Look at the record.

Reagan Record

First, there was Mr. Reagan's tax program. What happened was, he gave each of his rich friends enough tax relief to buy a Rolls Royce - and then he asked your family to pay for the hub caps.

Then they looked the other way at the rip-offs, soaring utility bills, phone bills, medical bills.

Then they crimped our future. They let us be routed in international competition, and now the help-wanted ads are full of listings for executives, and for dishwashers - but not much in between.

Then they socked it to workers. They encouraged executives to vote themselves huge bonuses - while using King Kong tactics to make workers take Hong Kong wages.

Mr. Reagan believes that the genius of America is in the boardrooms and exclusive country clubs. I believe that the greatness can be found in the men and women who built our nation; do its work; and defend our freedom.

If this administration has a plan for a better future, they're keeping it a secret.

Here is the truth about the future: We are living on borrowed money and borrowed time. These deficits hike interest rates, clobber exports, stunt investment, kill jobs, undermine growth, cheat our kids, and shrink our future.

Whoever is inaugurated in January, the American people will have to pay Mr. Reagan's bills. The budget will be squeezed. Taxes will go up. And anyone who says they won't is not telling the truth to the American people.

I mean business. By the end of my first term, I will reduce the Reagan budget deficit by two-thirds.

Let's tell the truth. It must be done, it must be done. Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won't tell you. I just did.

There's another difference. When he raises taxes, it won't be done fairly. He will sock it to average-income families again, and leave his rich friends alone. And I won't stand for it. And neither will you and neither will the American people.

To the corporations and freeloaders who play the loopholes or pay no taxes, my message is: Your free ride is over.

To the Congress, my message is: We must cut spending and pay as we go. If you don't hold the line, I will: That's what the veto is for.

Now that's my plan to cut the deficit. Mr. Reagan is keeping his plan secret until after the election. That's not leadership; that's salesmanship. And I think the American people know the difference.

And that, my friends, was Walter Mondale's fatal mistake, just as it was the mistake of the president for whom he was vice-president: Too much honesty, too much faith in the intelligence of the American people.

Walter Mondale went on to lose spectacularly, winning only his home state (and that within a bare 4000 vote majority) and the District of Columbia.

That is the intelligence of the American people.

You'd think that Democrats would have learned from that. I realize that people who lean left tend to imagine a world that could be, the very shining city on a hill that Reagan only talked about but did little to achieve. We like to think that people are basically good, that their better natures can be appealed to even in times of crisis, that great things can be accomplished when we are just honest and true and work together. All this shows you what kind of chumps we are. Because Republicans know better. For every image of a gang of ironworkers marching down to Ground Zero from their work site with tears streaming down their cheeks becasue they want to put their muscles towards doing what they can to help, for every white person who stood side by side with black Americans fighting for equal rights in 1963, for every man who has helped escort women into women's health clinics, for every Aaron Feuerstein, who continued to pay his employees even after his factory burned down, there are a hundred people, their faces twisted with hate, sitting in their comfortable homes, listening to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and others blaming someone for their plight. During the Reagan years it was the nonexistent black welfare queen in the Cadillac. Then it was "sixties values." Now it switches from day to day between immigrants, Muslims, and the scary mysterious guy in the White House.

Republicans know how the American human mind really works. Lee Atwater certainly knew it. Here how Atwater cut his hate teeth in his native South Carolina:
Atwater's aggressive tactics were first demonstrated during the 1980 congressional campaigns. He was a campaign consultant to Republican candidate Floyd Spence in his campaign for Congress against Democrat Tom Turnipseed.

Atwater's tactics in that campaign included push polling in the form of fake surveys by "independent pollsters" to "inform" white suburbanites that Turnipseed was a member of the NAACP. He also sent out last-minute letters from Sen. Strom Thurmond telling voters that Turnipseed would disarm America and turn it over to liberals and Communists. At a press briefing, Atwater planted a "reporter" who rose and said, "We understand Turnipseed has had psychotic treatment." Atwater later told the reporters off the record that Turnipseed "got hooked up to jumper cables" - a reference to electroconvulsive therapy that Turnipseed underwent as a teenager.

Atwater was Reagan's boy all the way.

Atwater's public contrition before his death of brain cancer in 1991 may have washed away his sins in the eyes of Christians, but as long as his horrific legacy lives on, I hope that if there is a hereafter, he finds himself tormented there. Because Lee Atwater begat Karl Rove and Richard Mellon Scaife and the Koch brothers and the Swift Boat Liars and Fox News.

And yet, Democrats still insist on turning the other cheek, no matter how many times the fear and loathing tactic of Atwater Christ and his loyal disciples works. John Kerry insisted that the American people were too smart to believe the lies of the Swiftboaters. He was wrong. Walter Mondale believed he could win by telling the truth. He was wrong. Barack Obama believed that the birthers were so out there that their crazy conspiracy theories didn't warrant a response. Now a retired general has signed on with them.

The tactics work because Americans want them to. It isn't so much that we want to be afraid, but we respond to fear. We want fear to be assuaged. Republicans have achieved success by simultaneously tapping fear and promising instant gratification. That Republicans have a lower positive rating than Democrats do at the moment seems to only demonstrate that. Two years ago Barack Obama was elected with as big a mandate as any president has had since 1964, and he has governed as if Republicans won. And he's still going to get his ass kicked by losing the legislative branch in November. Because Americans won't wait. Americans have the attention span of a gnat. They stood idly by and watched Republicans get us into this mess and said nothing. But now that it's wrecked, and the other guy isn't cleaning it up fast enough, they're ready to hand over the keys to the town drunk -- not because of the understandable reason that he's been doing the town drunk's bidding for two years, but because he hasn't fixed EVERYTHING. I'd be right there if it were the first reason.


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Blogger Bustednuckles said...
This is exactly what pisses me off so much with these spineless motherfuckers.
Stand up and fight bitches. Jesus. Thirty years of getting you lunch money taken, getting stuffed in a locker and atomic wedgies in front of the American people and they still can't figure out, even when they have a majority, that the American people will respond positively if you stand up and defend yourselves.
Go on the offensive and they love that shit.
Fuck these weasel assholes, I have zero respect for any of them except those few who do stand up and throw down on these ridiculous clowns. Alan Greyson being one of those few.
Of course, you already knew that.
Smooch honey.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Brilliant post. It deserves a wide audience.

Anonymous TheOtherWA said...
"Two years ago Barack Obama was elected with as big a mandate as any president has had since 1964, and he has governed as if Republicans won."

This is the problem, exactly. Beautiful post.