Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

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The Irrelevant Ghoul

The Irrelevant Ghoul
A noun, a verb, and 9/11

Sunday, February 15, 2009

WHY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND AMERICA WON


President Obama's stimulus package passed, and the Republicans have decided to throw their lot in with defeat, despair, and desperation. They've compared the stimpak to the New Deal, which they've pronounced a failure. (They've forgotten that their hero, Ronald Reagan, was always associated with winning, optimism and hope.)

But let's take a look at a more recent comparison and see how wrong they were on that, too:



Republicans have seen to it that Obama has complete ownership of the economic rescue. By withholding nearly all their votes, they are betting that it will fail, just as they did in 1993 when the newly elected Bill Clinton pushed his first budget and tax package through Congress without a single Republican vote.

Back then, Newt Gingrich predicted that the Democratic plan would lead to "a job-killing recession," and Dick Armey, his lieutenant, called it "a recipe for disaster."

Even if they had been right, they took the risk of seeming to be betting against something most voters hoped would succeed. But they were wrong -- the economy soared under Clinton.

Sixteen years later, today's Republicans seem to have forgotten that experience.



From the outset, the Republicans in Washington pored over the bill to find trivial issues to make hay with. They found some small funding for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases prevention; they jumped up and down about renovating the national mall; they went nuts over a proposal - wait for it - to make some government buildings more energy-efficient; they acted as if green research and federal funds for new school building were the equivalent of funding terrorism. And this after eight years in which they managed to turn a surplus into a trillion-dollar deficit and added a cool $32 trillion to the debt the next generation will have to pay for. Every now and again their chutzpah and narcissism take one’s breath away. But it’s all they seem to know.



The stimulus opponents, egged on by all the media murmurings about Obama “losing control,” also thought they had a sure thing. Their TV advantage added to their complacency. As the liberal blog ThinkProgress reported, G.O.P. members of Congress wildly outnumbered Democrats as guests on all cable news networks, not just Fox News, in the three days of intense debate about the House stimulus bill. They started pounding in their slogans relentlessly. The bill was not a stimulus package but an orgy of pork spending. The ensuing deficit would amount to “generational theft.” F.D.R.’s New Deal had been an abject failure.
This barrage did shave a few points off the stimulus’s popularity in polls, but its approval rating still remained above 50 percent in all (Gallup, CNN, Pew, CBS) but one of them (Rasmussen, the sole poll the G.O.P. cites). Perhaps the stimulus held its own because the public, in defiance of Washington’s condescending assumption, was smart enough to figure out that the government can’t create jobs without spending and that Bush-era Republicans have no moral authority to lecture about deficits. Some Americans may even have ancestors saved from penury by the New Deal.



19 comments:

TAO said...

Shaw,

Please STOP it! :)

The last two weeks of reading and commenting on various conservative blogs has pretty much totally delusioned me on any chance of getting conservative thought back on the correct path....

Then you throw this stuff out!

The stupidity and absurdity...and people actually support and believe this stuff and follow these people?

HELP!

dmarks said...

"And this after eight years in which they managed to turn a surplus..."

As long as we remember that Clinton never ran a surplus. It was deficits for every one of the 8 years.

Shaw Kenawe said...

TAO,

I've been following you around those conservative blogs reading your posts where you very logically point to the losing strategy of the current Republican Party.

The Party of Lincoln! How can that be?

My guess is that today's GOP is more interested in revenge, payback and being obstructionsts hoping that somehow the country is going to beg them to come back into power.

I stick with my take on what today's Republicans represent:

A party that believes in the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Anonymous said...

The GOP is on the losing side of this issue.

Patrick M said...

But they were wrong -- the economy soared under Clinton.

It was beginning to soar when Clinton took office. Obama didn't get a soaring economy.

Good luck. We're going to need it.

Gordon said...

Shaw, what you left off the David Broder bit is this: in 1994, Republicans capture control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. And the economy soared. So perhaps Newt and Dick weren't so dumb after all.

As for Sullivan, chutzpah and narcissism are his stock in trade. I admit it's nice to see him blogging about something other than Trig Palin's maternity.

And for a political commentator, Frank Rich is a great theater critic.

Shaw Kenawe said...

It was a Clinton presidency in 1994. And so he, a Democrat, get the credit.

You have your Andrew Bolt, a conservative pundit. And then there's Andrew Sullivan, a conservative pundit. He's one of yours.

You're obviously jealous that there isn't a conservative as funny, urbane, incisive, and erudite as Frank Rich.

We've not only got the coolest president, but the best writers, too.

Heh.

Eat your heart out, love chunks!

Gordon said...

"You're obviously jealous that there isn't a conservative as funny, urbane, incisive, and erudite as Frank Rich."

You're right. Mark Steyn is not only much more incisive, erudite and funny than Rich; he's also much more knowledgeable about Broadway.

But you might be right about the "urbane" factor. Steyn lives in New Hampshire; you just can't call someone like that urbane.

Gordon said...

RE: Sully....

He was a conservative, once upon a time. There's a lot of conservative bloggers for whom he was their blogfather.

But these days, if his name comes up, you get a puzzled look and a shrug. No one can figure out what happened to his brain.

Shaw Kenawe said...

But these days, if his name comes up, you get a puzzled look and a shrug. No one can figure out what happened to his brain.

I can.

It's functioning logically now.

Gordon said...

Hah. Yer mother wears Army boots, Blondie.

Ruth said...

We had a dog and pony show on the campaign trail in TX, where Perry opposed the stimulus bill voluminously and then pounded Hutchison - who is running against him for Gov - for voting against it and for losing.

Shaw Kenawe said...

We had a dog and pony show on the campaign trail in TX, where Perry opposed the stimulus bill voluminously and then pounded Hutchison - who is running against him for Gov - for voting against it and for losing.

SOP for the GOP, Ruth.

Arthurstone said...

Mark Steyn's brand of 'conservatism' is, as so many of his ilk, a monumental waste of talent.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/fr/547600/posts

I'd guess Steyn's schtick is about 60 years too late.

Gordon said...

Sez you, Arthurstone.

Have you read his book America Alone? If you haven't, you should. It's not a political book, it's a sociological and demographic book. He's done the numbers, and they don't look good for western civilization.

Seriously. You should read it.

Arthurstone said...

Sorry Gordon.

I can't sit still long enough to read much more than a newspaper column by Steyn.

The jokiness and showbiz shtick are wearying.

He trivializes important subjects. Issues which bear serious discussion are merely themes upon which he hangs his comedic and political riffs. A typical Steyn piece can bounce from climate change to "Islamofascism' to the UN to 'Liberal' Hollywood in the space of a paragraph or two. His technique of making one absurd generalization (all Muslims want to kill us dead, dead, dead) followed by another equally absurd generalization (a 'reluctant' US is 'destined' to save the world), is the worst kind of broad brush, simplistic nonsense.

He cannot be taken seriously.

So for those same reasons I wouldn't read a 'book' by Bill O'Reilly, Rush, Ann, Jon Stewart or Michael Moore either.

I for one have had just about enough of politics as entertainment.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Arthurstone,

Jon Stewart is the only one who does not belong on that list.

He doesn't go on shows pretending to be a pundit. He's a comedian who satirizes news.

Whereas the others you mention try to pass themselves off as political pundits.

Arthurstone said...

Shaw-

Right-e-o on Jon Stewart.

Sadly his 'satire' is just about the best 'news' shoe on the air.

Gordon said...

Arthurstone,

I wouldn't have suggested that you read it if I didn't think the content were worth your while. And I'm not stupid enough to suggest you read something by Coulter, Stewart or O'Reilly. This is not that sort of book.

But using two straw men examples to mischaracterize a book you haven't read? You don't even have to pay new hardcover price; there's plenty of used copies out there.

The threat to the values of western civilization that both you and I care about is real. He's done the research to back up his conclusions. The events unfolding in Europe support what he's saying.

Read the book.