Paul Krugman, NYT, today
Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are? If you’ve been following his campaign from the beginning, that’s a question you have probably asked many times. But the question was raised with particular force last week, when Mr. Romney tried to make a closed drywall factory in Ohio a symbol of the Obama administration’s economic failure. It was a symbol, all right — but not in the way he intended. First of all, many reporters quickly noted a point that Mr. Romney somehow failed to mention: George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, was president when the factory in question was closed. Does the Romney campaign expect Americans to blame President Obama for his predecessor’s policy failure?
Yes, it does, and yes, it's going to work. All I have to do is walk around my own neighborhood in my little Republican-leaning town to know that it's going to work. In previous springs, you'd see contractor signs on every street, the skeletons of add-a-levels rising from what used to be the roofs of 1950's ranch and cape cod houses. This year, we see the green stains of moss on the sides of the vinyl siding that was put on the add-a-levels of years past. Down the street is a foreclosure with some kind of paper sign in the window. It used to be a cute, well-maintained cape, but finally went into foreclosure after two years in the process. I'm told that the basement was flooded during Hurricane Irene last year and the bank didn't do anything about it. Down the street is a house that had its add-a-level built only about four years ago. The "For Sale" sign now has an "under contract" addendum, because they listed it for about $150K than it would have in 2006. Speculation is that it's either a divorce or someone lost a job and they can't afford to pay the second mortgage for the add-a-level anymore.
The through streets that attract tractor-trailers looking for shortcuts to the waste facility in the next town are chewed up and not even quick asphalt tamp-down patches are being done. We have a strip mall that serves as a downtown. It's 1/3 empty, and the restaurant and two take-out places that are the only two businesses to open there in the last three years have had to resort to placing signs in front of the shopping center. And yet residents of this town are gung-ho to spend $1.8 million putting artificial turf on the sports fields, to make them the "crown jewel" of our town.
Americans got used to instant gratification during the Bush years, as they bought McMansions and turned postwar tract housing into ersatz ones. They took leases on SUVs so they could drive more vehicle than they could afford to buy and fancied themselves to be adventurers. They pulled their kids out of school in mid-year to take them on Caribbean vacations. People in towns like mine saw Louis Vuitton and the newly-plastic Coach handbags as their due. Then it all came crashing down, and someone must be blamed. And if the person to blame feeds into the sub-surface racism of this town that is still, even in this decade, 96% white, even better.
Americans have forgotten, or never quite realized, just how close we came to global economic collapse in 2008. You don't dig out of a hole that quickly. The crisis occurred just as George W. Bush was getting ready to leave office, and while the incoming administration knew things were bad, I'm not sure even they knew just how bad until they took office.
There are still millions of Americans unemployed. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their homes, and more who still will. But it is better. It's infinitesimally better, but it's better. It could have been even better were it not for intransigent Republicans whose verbalized, stated agenda from January 20, 2009 has been to ensure that Barack Obama is a one-term president, and for this president's pathological insistence that he can somehow do business with such people. These are the people who have a vested interest in keeping the economy weak through the November election. And yet, almost half of Americans want to give power back to these people. They don't like the liver and onions, so they're willing to eat the pile of dogshit, just because it's something different. Yes, Mr. Krugman, the Romney campaign does expect Americans to blame President Obama. Because we live in a nation of idiots, and they will.
Labels: American Idiots, And You Want To Give Power Back To These People?, Mitt Romney, We Are So Screwed