If you ever wondered what the 1% really thinks of the 99%, now Mitt Romney has provided an answer—at least of what many of well-healed 1% think about about a good half of the country. Joe Klein compares Romney’s candid camera moment with the much repeated Obama gaffe about crackers clinging to their guns and religion:
In context, Obama was talking about small-town America, a place where the jobs“have been gone for 25 years now” and “nothing has replaced them.” Both Republican and Democratic administrations have failed to address this central economic problem, he said, and so the residents grow “bitter” and start to cling to their guns and Bibles. But Obama, the Whole Foods arugula shopper, ignored the fact that a great many gun owners are not bitter but joyful in the hunt — indeed, that they derive as much pleasure from their sport as Obama does from basketball or golf. Nor did he understand that in many small towns religion is a source of service and good deeds and community, of drug treatment and food banks, as well as the pure peace of prayerful meditation. But Obama was right about the larger picture: there was a fear and bitterness in white small-town America that had its roots in the changing economy and expressed itself in anger that some people — immigrants, welfare recipients (and especially, now, those on Social Security Disability) and those lazy folks at the Department of Motor Vehicles — were getting over. Those sentiments, obviously, gave rise to the Tea Party. They are undiminished today. And clearly, Obama was saying something he really believed, although — to borrow a Romney locution — inelegantly.
I’m not so sure about Romney. I’m pretty sure he’s smart enough to know that the 47% he summoned was in the category of “damned lie” statistics. I’m pretty sure he knows that the vast majority of those people work their butts off, pay federal payroll taxes (and a raft of state and local levies) or are senior citizens receiving Social Security and Medicare. I’m not sure that he has put two and two together: that a great many of the 47% — the white working-class voters and senior citizens — are Romney voters. Or that they don’t pay income taxes because of Republican tax cuts and Republican child and earned-income tax credits. But I am absolutely convinced that Mitt Romney has been inured to Republican fat-cat audiences complaining about how much they have to pay to keep the American enterprise afloat, and that he was well aware of the Fox-Rush echo-chamber formulations about food-stamp growth and dependency and people not paying federal taxes, and he was playing to those prejudices. The exigencies of fundraising have forced him to spend more time with plutocrats than average citizens this year. It’s not surprising that he’s lost track of the world as most people see it. Hell, he’s spending today — the day after this momentous gaffe — fundraising rather than trying to change the topic.
The Republican Convention was at a definite disadvantage. They went first. Never ideal. They lost a day, thanks to Isaac. And they built their entire convention on a lie. They are running against a figment of their collective imaginations. The Obama who hates success, hates America and hates taking responsibility for the economy. It is an Obama as nonexistent as the straw man floating above Clint Eastwood’s empty chair.
The Democrats, by contrast, are building their convention on Obama’s record and agenda: expanding opportunity. Equal pay for equal work, equal access to healthcare, Pell grants for greater college opportunity, the rescue of jobs tied to the US auto industry and the overturning of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell so homosexuals can openly fight for the country they love. These are accomplishments that move the country forward. And accomplishments tend to make for better speeches than trumped up fear mongering. But what was striking about the first night of the Democratic convention was the unbridled patriotism of it all. The Democrats’ love of country is positively passionate! Just as the Republicans tried to build an entire convention around a gaffe in an Obama speech, this convention is taking Romney’s premise that the best we have felt about Obama was the day we cast our vote for him and deftly turned it on its head. The Democrats feel just fine about Obama. And some seem as smitten with him as the First Lady, who, as it turns out, may be the best orator in the Obama household.
Apparently, bird-flipping bad boy Rick Perry has gotten religion. Or maybe he is just hoping to increase his political capital with the Religious Right in anticipation of a presidential bid. Not to suggest a politician would be that cynical and calculating, but courting the born-again wing of the GOP certainly helped our last Texas Governor trade up to an oval-shaped office. The details:
Texas governor and potential presidential candidate Rick Perry is organizing a national prayer rally.
The day-long prayer and fasting event, called “The Response,” is scheduled for Aug. 6 in Houston, Texas.
Gov. Perry said Americans must call on Jesus to guide them through the “unprecedented struggles” the nation is facing.
“Right now, America is in crisis. We have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism and a multitude of natural disasters,” Perry said on the event’s website.
“Some problems are beyond our power to solve… this historic hour demands a historic response,” he said.
Governors across the country are invited to participate in the prayer rally.
Some have criticized the event saying Perry shouldn’t use his office to promote a religious gathering.
The prayer rally will be held at Reliant Stadium.
The Republican’t Party can no longer be the party of “no.” With a majority in the House they are in the awkward position where then need to DO. Which is a precarious place to be. Economic progress under their watch can be construed as progress for the President. Failure could mean another sea change in the House. So the WJS attempts to talk the GOP through this delicate tango:
The other advice we’d offer is to keep in mind that Republicans did not run in 2010 to be national accountants. While cutting spending to reduce the deficit, they should keep the political and policy focus on promoting economic growth and private job creation. This should be the larger avowed purpose of their cuts in spending, their scrutiny of new regulations, their proposals for tax reform, or their questioning of the Federal Reserve.
Thanks to the failure of the Obama-Pelosi spending stimulus, the voters are once again listening to Republicans on the economy. They should not cede that ground back by turning into mere deficit scolds.
It’s the obvious next step after reclaiming America’s honor. Glenn Beck has launched his very own Huffington Post. Apparently, he believes that there is a Tea Party subculture out there that can actually read. So he is doing what he does best: bending the news to have an Armageddon-Four-Horseman-of-the-Apocalypse-Doomsday flavor to it. So I guess his Million Minions March on Washington was not just a flash in the pan. It was a Blaze.
There is certainly a lot of talk about the American Constitution these days. Obama, of course, has throw it out the window, according to the Tea Party. The illegal aliens are abusing it according to conservative Republicans. And California’s Proposition 8 tramples it, according to the district judge who just overruled this democratically established law. Of course, these same constitutional villians have the temerity to appeal to this very Constitution for their side’s views, as well. The rightwing has the tendency to argue that because of our “representative” form of government that governance should match the weekly Gallup pole rather than the results of the last election. If the majority of the country, according to polling data, oppose Obamacare, then no Obamacare. It is so obvious! The Religious Right agree (depending on the issue) but add that this is a “Christian nation” and therefore biblical standards are implied in our founding documents. There’s a lot of wishful thinking in this argument, to be sure. So, they argue, if homosexuality is an sin according to the Good Book, then no marriage for gays. Black and white. Right? Of course, I don’t hear a lot of support for stoning heterosexuals who commit adultery, a much more clear biblical mandate. The Religious Left have their “constitutional” arguments as well. While they are very happy to marry two men in a Christian ceremony, this is not the issue, they insist. The issue is civil marriage, they point out. Separation of church and state and all that. Why, it’s the very governing principle that our Protestant founders hard-wired into the Constitution. Shouldn’t gays and lesbians have the same right to the pursuit of happiness as the straight community? And isn’t it the role of government to protect the liberties of the minorities against the prejudices of the majority? It’s stage two of the civils rights movement! It is all so self-evident––to quote one of these devout founding fathers. So this constitution of ours must be a pretty broad document for it to be interpreted in so differently, huh? And that’s the thing about our beloved constitution that some of us love. And the rest of us, cannot stand.
Marc Ambinder makes a legitimate criticism of the madness of the Republicans:
Serious thinkers on the right have finally gotten around to a full and open debate on the epistemic closure problem that’s plaguing the conservative movement. The issue, to put it in terms that even I can understand, because I didn’t study philosophy much in college: has the conservative base gone mad?
This matters to journalists, because I really do want to take Republicans seriously. Mainstream conservative voices are embracing theories that are, to use Julian Sanchez’s phrase,
“untethered” to the real world.
Can anyone deny that the most trenchant and effective criticism of President Obama today comes not from the right but from the left? Rachel Maddow’s grilling of administration economic officials. Keith Olbermann’s hectoring of Democratic leaders on the public option. Glenn Greenwald’s criticisms of Elena Kagan. Ezra Klein and Jonathan Cohn’s keepin’-them-honest perspectives on health care. The civil libertarian left on detainees and Gitmo. The Huffington Post on derivatives.
I want to find Republicans to take seriously, but it is hard. Not because they don’t exist — serious Republicans — but because, as Sanchez and others seem to recognize, they are marginalized, even self-marginalizing, and the base itself seems to have developed a notion that bromides are equivalent to policy-thinking, and that therapy is a substitute for thinking.
But here’s the rub. Even though it is getting harder and harder to take the Republicans seriously, it is hard to argue with success. And what Ambinder misses is this. The Republicans are going to pick up seats come November and possibly take back both houses. So is the GOP crazy? Yep, like a fox.
I, for one, am sick and tired of populism in politics. Especially, in the politics of the right wing. So it very refreshing to see the face of GOP politics that has always rang true. The country club elite. Men named Biff with monogrammed Kleenex, a trust fund, a vocabulary like Bill Buckley and a Harvard degree. There! Much better. That’s the GOP I remembered.
You know how the GOP religiously courts the white evangelical? You know how Dubya prided himself at “connecting” with this group? Well if this chart is to be believed, white evangelicals are less entrenched in the world of politics than we have been led to think. Black Protestants and white Catholics are another story.
The GOP has added a new term to their lexicon. It is tucked in there somewhere between Obamacare and Death Panels. Pro-life Baby Killer. It is to be used for such individuals as Congressman Bart Stupak. You know him, right? The Catholic Democrat who stood fast and fought his own party and his own President to revise the language in the new Health Care reform law. That steadfast, Pro-life, baby-kissing, fetus-saving, uncompromising public servant. He’s a “Baby-killer” simply because he voted for health care reform. Gotta love that GOP!! They sure love babies! That is, until they are born.
That’s right, boys. It’s Easter time. A reminder that dead things can come alive again. And don’t you forget it!
Yglesias issues a wise warning. Never say never.
Fred Barnes, January 20:
Oh, yes. The health care bill, ObamaCare, is dead with not the slightest prospect of resurrection. Brown ran to be the 41st vote for filibuster and now he is just that. Democrats have talked up clever strategies to pass the bill in the Senate despite Brown, but they won’t fly.
As someone who makes a lot of bad predictions, I’m going to offer everyone advice that you want to try to make sure your predictions aren’t totally categorical. ObamaCare looks dead, for example. Heck, if you’re feeling super-confident, just go ahead and say ObamaCare is dead. But you never need to go all in with things like “not the slightest prospect of resurrection.” There’s always a slight prospect of anything. Heck, there’s even an outside chance that John Roberts will decide to revive old-school right-wing 10th Amendment fundamentalism and throw the whole bill out.
Surveys show that most people are dead set against health care reform until it is broken down for them. Ignorance, once again, is the greatest tool of the G.O.P. This from Newsweek:
In the latest NEWSWEEK Poll, the majority of Americans are opposed to President Obama’s health-care reform plan—until they learn the details…Seventy-six percent thought health insurers should be required to cover anyone who applies, including those with preexisting conditions; and 75 percent agreed with requiring most businesses to offer health insurance to their employees, with incentives for small-business owners to do so.
Just a reminder that today’s Tea Partyists would have burned Barry Goldwater at the stake.
The film documentary Jesus Camp spends a week with a summer camp of Pentecostal kids. There, they get a version of Christianity that is wrapped in the American flag and double-dipped in a gooey adoration of policies of George W. Bush. This is a video of a group of kids from a large, conservative Dallas church. These kids put on a camp that reflects a different sort of Christianity. It is one where the cross is picked up, not pinned on. It is one where “values” aren’t simply slapped on T-shirts. They are lived out. Can I get an “Amen”?