Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The GOP: Smart as a Whip

It's amazing to me how determinedly daft the Republican rhetoric has been. This interview with Eric Cantor is about two months old. But it holds up. What three things other than tax cuts would he do if he were president? I'll sum up his answer with quotes.

We've all got to work together.

Yes. I agree.

What is needed most right now is focus on getting the job done.

That's almost as good as his first suggestion.

We've got to do all we can to address this situation [of jobs being lost].

He must be reading my mind!

Not to think about a 20-year Great Society redux program.

Wait -- so just not thinking about it will help?

Narrow the focus.

Hold on a minute. Not only does he want to focus but he wants it to be a narrow focus? Man, this guy is got some revolutionary thinking!

Get this economy back on track.

You know. I think that might work. I'd put that in the top three too.

And he adds that he wouldn't pass Obama's budget if he were President because it's taxing the job creators. Does that count as something other than a tax cut? I guess technically he's suggesting a tax avoidance rather than a tax cut because if he was president he wouldn't have instituted the taxes in the first place. Cantor is sneaky sneaky.

So he finishes with his big three.
  1. Need some focus.
  2. Stop the politics.
  3. Start working together to get this job done.

This is not only the GOP that talks and argues like this. It's not even only politicians. But the GOP is flailing and they all need to address the palpable weakness of their philosophy soon.

Michael Steele is supposed to be guiding them, but what does he have to offer?

He wants the Republican party to convince America that the Right Wing view of spending, taxes, freedom, "responsive and responsible government", and defense are best for the country.

To accomplish this goal Republicans are turning a corner in three important ways:

First, the Republican Party will be forward-looking – it is time to stop looking backward … I believe it is now time for Republicans to focus all of our energies on winning the future by emerging as the party of new ideas.

Second, the Republican Party will not shy away from voicing our opposition to the president’s policies.

Third, the Republican Party will seize upon momentum for a GOP resurgence that is already under way in states and local communities.

In this same short essay he argues that looking forward is what Reagan would have done, and he offers no idea more concrete than the principle of small government. He opposes Obama's policies only based on the assumption of righteous principles. Where's the momentum in that?

A better word than momentum would be inertia. The GOP is an object at rest, staying at rest.


eplough said...

Firstly, thanks for an amusing fenhop. I enjoyed the humorous breakdown of Cantor's "answer."

I don't blame Cantor for providing such a crappy answer to the emailer's question. I don't even blame it on the Republicans because the Dems do it too.

It seems clear to me that whenever a pundit is asked a question on these news shows, their strategy is almost always to find the quickest way to bypass the question and press on with their agenda...

...and the interviewer rarely attempts to steer the pundit back to the question because PISSS (political interview side-stepping strategy) seems to have become an accepted occupational hazzard of these awful "news" shows.

fenhopper said...

you're right. that's why i said in the post that this isn't only a GOP tactic.

but it's the GOP that is weighed down by this right now. their ideas don't even have to be great, but because they want to be the party of ideas they should probably try coming up with some.

politicians do this to keep getting elected. they keep playing it safe. and the smartest thing the GOP might be doing is counting on the fact that elections ebb and flow naturally and all they have to do is wait it out till they start winning again.

the problem is that society isn't merely ebbing temporarily towards things like equal rights. it's a complete shift that the GOP will have to eventually accept. and right now they're stupidly holding onto principles that will sink them.

if they're smart they'll abandon the "base" that they're hoping will bring them back.

Casey said...

Ever listen to Limbaugh? He doesn't talk in vague generalities... don't get me wrong, I can certainly understand why academics are driven nuts by him -- he's abrasive and ideologically opposed to everything a liberal arts faculty person supports. But he tends to be specific.

One of the phrases that has always bothered me very much when it comes to politics is "getting things done." Pundits and politicians of both sides love to talk about how it's time to get things done in Washington. But it doesn't take much interpretation of that phrase to understand that what's being said is, "We need to pass more laws."

And that's frustrating for a person with a real constitutional fervor for Liberty. So how would a libertarian enter this debate?--wouldn't obfuscatory rhetoric be one way to sound appealing without making promises about safety and equality?

In case you can't tell, I'm off the bandwagon. I'm standing on the side of the road. Kicking pebbles. Paranoid about the possibility of hyperinflation and surveillance cameras.

fenhopper said...

limbaugh is a good example. and the GOP should either move towards him or away from him. all they've done is say that he's an entertainer no wait an important entertainer. that's not moving toward or away. that's more of the same playing it safe. trying to have it both ways.

the GOP has to do something different right now. it has to come up with a different platform. the legislators need to speak like a more sensible limbaugh -- and it can be done.

but i think the economy's going to turn around (because that's what economies do and i'm not convinced obama has done anything to stop that) and states are going to start recognizing marriage rights, and the GOP is going to have to completely abandon some of its stances.

parties have done it in the past while surviving despite backward holdouts like jesse helms. the GOP cannot be afraid of a new platform.

the two party system is probably going to last. but the libertarians are poised to get in there. and i like a lot of libertarian ideas. i like states' rights. on some things. i like higher state taxes and lower federal. i like freedom (cue 'america the beautiful')

but i also like strong antitrust legislation. i like federal protection of civil rights. right now i like the democratic platform.

i've only voted democrat once. and right now the GOP isn't doing a single thing to get my vote back.

the libertarians need better voices. they can enter the debate if they can back it with -- let's face it -- more charismatic candidates.

Casey said...

Yeah, that's sensible. I find the Republicans really depressing these days... it's bad enough watching hypocrites in Washington who get what they want. But it's awful to watch "bad hypocrites."

What do you think about California--by reputation the wealthiest state in the nation--getting $80 billion dollars from the federal government? I know "the state" is broke, but its people aren't. Somehow they seem to have rigged it so that federal tax dollars, coming in proportion from places like Michigan and Ohio and Arkansas, get funneled out to California. This isn't a quantitative argument... it's just a feeling. Wonder if you've wondered about it too.

I think you're right about the economy -- this being part of a natural cycle -- but I am sort of still feeling like America's poor are getting the biggest shaft of all: things like that $500 annual tax cut included in the stimulus will hardly pay for increases in consumer good prices, personal debt from job loss, and my favorite (because I'm a "victim" this year), "little stuff" like not getting an annual pay increase because times are tough for your small Private University employer (I get a zero % pay raise this year).