Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Bob Herbert on a Tear

Oh, now THIS I like. Bob Herbert's ripping up the Reps, saying "Get Ready for a [Rep] Rerun":

You just can’t close the door on this crowd. The party that brought us the worst economy since the Great Depression, that led us into Iraq and the worst foreign policy disaster in American history, that would like to take a hammer to Social Security and a chisel to Medicare, is back in control of the House of Representatives with the expressed mission of undermining all things Obama...
...Maybe the voters missed the entertainment value of the hard-hearted, compulsively destructive G.O.P. headliners. Maybe they viewed them the way audiences saw the larger-than-life villains in old-time melodramas. It must be something like that because it’s awfully hard to miss the actual policies of a gang that almost wrecked the country.
Good lead paragraph, but I think that second bit is slightly off. What motivated the public is fear, resignation, and rage.
There was fear from the still-employed lower-and-middle class about whether or not they'd lose their jobs and what little wealth they had left. Fear, suspicions, and isolation is ever the friend of the Republican.

There was resignation from progressives, liberals, and youth. They (we?) have lost all faith in the ability of Obama and the Democrats to actually enact positive change. The fact that a sixty-seat majority in the Senate couldn't get anything done was devastating, and the spectacle of Obama being perfectly willing to arm-twist progressive Dems but NOT conservative Dems or wingnut Reps was even more so. Obama's thorough abandonment of his base and supporters and repeated "hippy-bashing" was just final blow. So they just didn't bother to donate, campaign or vote.

But more than anything, there was rage. Americans know they've gotten a raw deal. They know they're being exploited. They know that the "Masters of the Universe" fucked things up, and got ordinary Americans like them to shoulder the burden. They're pissed that they got castigated for wanting to own a home in a nice neighbourhood and then finding out they got fleeced by the lying banks and mortgage houses. They're incandescent with fury over the lack of jobs. And they know it's all because the people that got paid the big bucks because they were supposedly the most talented, skilled, and thoughtful people in America were actually a pack of asshats mostly concerned with lining their pockets and those of their friends. It isn't about the "socialist Democrats"; bankers aren't socialists and the public absolutely despises that gang. It's about the Powers That Be and their utter betrayal of America's trust.

But what follows, well...Herbert really surprised me.
The mantra for Mr. Issa and the rest of the newly empowered Republicans in the House, including the new Budget Committee chairman, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, is to cut spending and shrink government. But what’s really coming are patented G.O.P. efforts to spread misery beyond Mr. Obama and the Democrats to ordinary Americans struggling in what are still very difficult times.

It was ever thus. The fundamental mission of the G.O.P. is to shovel ever more money to those who are already rich. That’s why you got all that disgracefully phony rhetoric from Republicans about attacking budget deficits and embracing austerity while at the same time they were fighting like mad people to pile up the better part of a trillion dollars in new debt by extending the Bush tax cuts.

This is a party that has mastered the art of taking from the poor and the middle class and giving to the rich. We should at least be clear about this and stop being repeatedly hoodwinked — like Charlie Brown trying to kick Lucy’s football — by G.O.P. claims of fiscal responsibility.

There’s a reason the G.O.P. reveres Ronald Reagan and it’s not because of his fiscal probity. As Garry Wills wrote in “Reagan’s America”:

“Reagan nearly tripled the deficit in his eight years, and never made a realistic proposal for cutting it. As the biographer Lou Cannon noted, it was unfair for critics to say that Reagan was trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, since ‘he never seriously attempted to balance the budget at all.’ ”

We’ll see and hear a lot of populist foolishness from the Republicans as 2011 and 2012 unfold, but their underlying motivation is always the same. They are about making the rich richer. Thus it was not at all surprising to read on Politico that the new head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton of Michigan, had hired a former big-time lobbyist for the hospital and pharmaceuticals industries to oversee health care issues.
This is almost astonishing. Sure, a blogger can say such things. But a New York Times columnist isn't supposed to write comments that are so, well...classist. You're allowed to call the Republicans out-of-touch, or zealots, or zombies, or whatnot. But to actually call it as it is? To say that they're just there as agents for the cash-soaked bastards who screwed things up so badly in the first place?


I wonder if they'll make him write a retraction.

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