The GOP Floats Out To Sea, Alone on a Shrinking Iceberg

There isn’t much point showing the Republican Party that they’ve lost it completely and are floating out to sea, alone and abandoned on a shrinking iceberg like an aged bull walrus driven from the herd.

After all, new party chairman Michael Steele doesn’t know that when you work, you have a job and vice versa, and it doesn’t matter who signs the pay check.

House GOP members should split the cost of a dictionary with Steele because many of them harrumph the stimulus is “just a spending bill,” not grasping that stimulating the economy means government spending. I learned that in a Grade 5 unit on the Great Depression.

Even more preposterous, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell decried the stimulus as not being in Republican interests; I guess he forgot that his party spent 12 years enacting laws protecting “Republican interests.” It’s what heaved us into this nose-diving, sink-hole of an economy to begin with.

He also forgot that his party was routed in two straight elections because Americans had their fill of “Republican interests.”

The nonsense being spouted by the GOP might play well in red corners of the South and among well-heeled donors in Houston or San Diego. But when laid against the desperate faces of the unemployed in Elkhart, Indiana, or Fort Myers, Florida, and Peoria, Illinois – all cities in counties that voted for John McCain – who jammed civic centers this week to hear Pres. Obama answer questions about fixing their seemingly-hopeless plight, it is easy to see how divorced from reality the Grand Old Poopniks party has become.

Bury Reagan Already
Just as Democrats ran against Herbert Hoover until well into the Sixties, the Republicans have been trotting out Ronald Reagan for nearly three decades without any real reason except he was a kindly old man with hair dyed orange.

But while Hoover let the country slide deeper and deeper into the Depression, becoming the villain of multiple generations of Americans, Reagan did nearly as much harm as Hoover but pulled off creating a much better persona. Ever seen a picture of Hoover smiling or Reagan frowning? As Will Bunch pointedly documents in Tear Down This Myth, despite what Republicans claim today when invoking their hero, Reagan raised taxes, spending and the government’s size during every year of his two term presidency except the first.

In truth, the so-called Great Communicator was just the ultimate flim-flam artist of his time, slicker than P.T. Barnum but just as adept at remembering “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

The trouble with the Republican Party today is threefold:

  • They actually believe the myth Michael Deaver and Nancy Reagan created about Reagan as a low tax, small government prophet.
  • They somehow believe that Reagan did a good job running the nation during his eight years, forgetting Iran-Contra, Star Wars and a tripling of the defense budget.
  • They think he was responsible for ending the Cold War and bringing the Soviet Union to heel even though it was crumbling economically and socially for at least 10 years before Reagan.

The faster Republicans realize that Reagan was the Wizard of Oz, the quicker they will be able to rehabilitate the party instead of remaining a bunch of braying obstructionists yowling at an eager but dwindling band of fellow travellers.

Recognizing Bankruptcy
There are two sure-fire signs the GOP is intellectually bankrupt: Since the election, it asked Joe the Plumber for advice and it touts Sarah Palin is its next Great White Hope. Between them, I’m not sure they have enough smarts to open a childproof aspirin bottle.

Yet the Democrats in Washington still think the Republicans are worth listening to and actually seem to be paying attention to what they say.

According to Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, every dollar of government spending on projects such as infrastructure returns $1.75 to the economy while every dollar of tax cuts returns only 75 cents to the economy. Even a kid running a lemonade stand in front of her home on a hot August afternoon can figure out which is a better deal. So why did Democrats allow 42% of the stimulus package to get eaten up by tax cuts? Yes, some cuts will benefit the middle class but, in dollar terms, the biggest chunk goes to the rich and scandalous – meaning GOP contributors and large businesses.

It makes political sense for President Obama to tell audiences that many who oppose his stimulus bill do so from “sincere conviction.” And there may be one or two people in the House and Senate who do have philosophical objections – but no more than that. And Democrats ought to stop molly-coddling them.

John McCain? He’s such a weathered old whore that, in the same speech this week in the Senate, he opposed and supported tax cuts in the bill. Mitch McConnell? Besides looking like he always smells something bad, he hasn’t stood for a principled idea since arriving in Washington. John Boehner? There’s a photo of Boehner next to the word charlatan in the dictionary.

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Instead of making nice to vulnerable Senators such as Arlen Specter and Olympia Snowe, Democrats ought to let them know – using every Senatorial courtesy possible – that if they buck Obama on the stimulus, health care reform, and other key measures, they won’t know what hit them in 2010 when they’re up for re-election.

charley-james.jpgIt’s one thing to try fostering a spirit of bi-partisanship in Washington. It’s another to give away 45% of much needed stimulus dollars as tax cuts for the wealthy and for business. If this is a start, what will happen when health care finally reaches the Hill?

Charley James
The Progressive Curmudgeon

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