What I Learned

3 Aug

So far, I’ve learned that the Democrats capitulated to tea party hostage-taking, abetted by mainstream Republicans; I’ve learned that the Republicans have sold out the tea party; I’ve learned that Gabby Giffords’ appearance on the House floor was a brazen stunt, concocted by Democrats to inject sympathy into the process; I’ve learned that Gabby Giffords’ appearance on the House floor was a brazen stunt, concocted by the White House to embarrass Democrats into voting in favor of the debt ceiling deal; I’ve learned that the debtpocalypse deal will guarantee a second recession because the government’s hands are now tied; I’ve learned that the debtpocalypse deal is horribly awful, and that anyone who took Econ 101 could tell you so – that you never pull trillions out of a recession economy; I’ve learned that the debtpocalypse deal is a return to fiscal sanity and responsibility, and that Washington is finally getting its fiscal house in order; I’ve learned that the supercommittee that will be constituted to establish cuts will be responsible; I’ve learned that the supercommittee that will be constituted to establish cuts is just a “catfood commission” that will determine how much more awful it can make the lives of Medicare-dependent seniors.

I do, however, agree with this:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/RBReich/status/97890093695647744″%5D

I did learn that the Dow dipped 2% yesterday upon news of a debt deal, and that doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I also learned that Senator Mitch McConnell has never worked a day in his life in the dreaded private sector.

In short, the country is well past having an honest discussion about fixing the economy, and both sides have become radicalized. This compromise is precisely how the country was founded to run. If we wanted to guarantee that policies or bills would be introduced and passed, we’d have a parliamentary system.

I learned that the Democrats have no game, and don’t know when or how to play a good hand. I learned that the Democrats suck at messaging, and the President makes a nice speech, but can’t – or won’t – advocate for what he believes in.  This country is ruled right now by the tea party.  Progressives, meanwhile, are pissing all over President Obama rather than Republicans and their tea party dog waggers.

I’m no economist, so I’m not going to pretend to inject my own opinion about whether this compromise is a disaster or not. I’m returned to the notion that re-election is the matter of tantamount importance in Washington. I also get the sense that President Obama’s entire raison d’etre is to prove to the tea party that he’s not the soshulist Kenyan usurper they think he is, which is as pointless as it is unnecessary.

27 Responses to “What I Learned”

  1. Mr. F.N. Magoo August 3, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    A deal that should have Republicans still hungover from a victory celebration instead has the slice of their base that is the teabaggers seeing red. Nobody on the Democratic side has given any more positive reaction than a sigh of relief. That this apparent GOP victory is being criticized more vociferously by their base than by their opponents makes me think we’ve reached a tipping point. Either people are going to understand that a radical minority in the GOP is determined to own government or wreck it and respond by turning the 2010 election result on its head, or they’re just so nauseated by the whole crippled process, they’ll ignore the election all together and instead start preparing for the decline of America into a banana republic. I think it depends on who’s hungrier to eat their own; the baggers or the progressive purists.

  2. Interested Citizen August 3, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    well said, Alan.

  3. MJC August 3, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    As much as it would kill me to see another Republican elected to the White House, I am looking forward to one aspect of that event – the utter disintegration of the Tea Party. The minute they succeed in removing the black president, they will go back to doing what they do best – ignoring politics while they troll the Wal-Marts and all-you-can-eat buffets.

  4. Carmen Bartolotta August 3, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    Great piece. This will be the opposite of a stimulus; it will slow the economy to a crawl. The Republicans want to prevent any surge in the economy and will run on the claim that they can lower unemployment by slashing the corporate tax rate and eliminating regulation.

    MJC nailed it on the TeaBaggers. The President’s color is a driving force behind their sudden (and misinformed) interest in politics. No one marched in the streets when interest rates were at 20% or when there was no gasoline. People can deny their bias, but it slips out enough to be recognized.

  5. Jesse August 3, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    Oh please.  The tea party hates Obama because he’s black.  Is that all you idiots have?

    The marching started BEFORE he was President.  Trying to dismiss the tea party as mere racists is just sheer laziness or stupidity, and sets yourself up to be completely shocked when things don’t turn out the way you expect.

    A tipping point was reached at the end of Bush’s presidency whereby the unadulterated graft, cronyism and corporatism combined with the surprising energy behind Ron Paul’s support created the tea party movement: Throw ALL the bums out if they can’t control spending.

    The tea party does not appear to just be an arm of the R party, because the only thing holding the tea party together is rampant overspending by all forms of government.  Thus the “no tax increases” demands: to the tea party, spending is all the matters.

    OF COURSE the R’s have tried to subvert the anger and collect it under their umbrella: them tea partiers are VOTERS.  The R’s are not stupid.  And so you mooks think it’s all just astroturf.  Again, lazy and/or stupid.

    Of course you end up with “tea partiers who say don’t touch my government program” – they’re concerned with all government spending but for their own self-interest, just like anyone else.  Look at the freaking out over cutting a few million in small airport subsidies.  It’s like it’s the end of the fucking world.

    If the R’s manage a win in 2012 and the guy who wins doesn’t keep on the fight to cut spending, the tea party will not go away.  That much is certain.

  6. Mike In WNY August 3, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Raising the debt ceiling can hardly be called a Tea Party victory. We ended up with a compromise solution that sucks.

  7. Ward August 3, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Some useful facts (as opposed to like-minded pundit opinions) from which one might “learn” something about the future of social welfare states:
    The British Labour Party last year polled its lowest share of the vote since 1983;
    The Swedish Social Democrats got their lowest share of the vote since universal suffrage was introduced in 1921;
    The German Social Democrats polled just 20 per cent of the vote, their worst result since the Second World War;
    In France, the Socialist Party got 16.5 per cent, its lowest share of the vote in a European election since 1994;
    In Italy, the Democrats polled 26.1 per cent–seven percentage points less than they received at the last election.

    What European politicians have “learned” from this is that no candidate or party can increase social program spending and win re-election. Do you think Obama will “learn” this in time for the 2012 vote?

    • Alan Bedenko August 3, 2011 at 10:58 am #

      Well, according to the Telegraph article from which those statistics came, left-center parties in Europe, and perhaps Obama may learn that liberalizing immigration policy in homogeneous European nation-states can cause social upheaval and voter backlash. After all, the article clearly concludes that immigration is the reason why the rightist parties are ascendant in Europe, despite the recent banking scandals and economic crises.

      Social spending had nothing to do with it. (I’d suggest that any effort by the rightist parties in any of those countries to dismantle the social safety nets would result in renewed vigor on the left).

      The Tea Party is firmly anti-immigration, so that similarly tracks the experience in Europe. The big difference is that European countries aren’t immigrant melting pots like the US, and their immigration problems are hardly analogous.

      But I appreciate your concern.

  8. MJC August 3, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Jesse – you are clearly delusional and quite obviously the idiot. I will grant that Ron Paul was delivering his usual naive libertarian nonsense in the Bush era. However, the vast majority of the Tea Party coalesced after the black president took office and started scaring morons with his “socialism”.

    But don’t believe me – I really don’t care. Get back to me a few months after Obama steps down and a Republican takes office. I will absolutely guarantee you that your precious Tea Party is reduced to what is was before – Ron Paul and a handful of zealots who practically want to eliminate government. They won’t have their Kenyan to rally their anger in the same direction. They will go back to crying about immigrants and worrying about the black family that moved into their neighborhood.

  9. Bbill August 3, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    To suggest that (not all but certainly a large percentage of) teabaggers (and their birther subcult) were not mobilized by Obama’s skin color requires a rather heavy-duty suspension of disbelief. To suggest otherwise is to insult everyone’s intelligence everywhere (except that of the teabaggers, of course).

  10. Ward August 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    MJC–nice prophecy. Of course the decrease in Tea Party activity under a Republican presidency, House, and Senate could never be explained by a dearth of trillion-dollar deficits or the demise of government-by-czar. Nah–it could only be the loss of the Kenyan that would calm them down.

  11. Mr. F.N. Magoo August 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    Ya just have to wait him out and he does it to himself: Ward wrote: “Of course the decrease in Tea Party activity under a Republican presidency, House, and Senate could never be explained by a dearth of trillion-dollar deficits ” Guess where I’m going with that quote?

  12. Eric Saldanha August 3, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    @F.N. – that quote ranks right up there with his Siena poll comment during the NY-26 special election.

  13. Brian Wood August 3, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    As Matt Taibbi says: Is it possible that by “surrendering” at the 11th hour and signing off on a deal that presages deep cuts in spending for the middle class, but avoids tax increases for the rich, Obama is doing exactly what was expected of him? (by the smartest businessmen in the world–BW)

  14. Bbill August 3, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    “MJC–nice prophecy.” – Ward

    “That is, if I may say, some of the most free-range, organically grown, disingenous, ideologically marinated, un-self-awareness I’ve ever seen in the wild.” – Jon Stewart

  15. MJC August 3, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Yeah, I just don’t get it with Ward. Judging by his vocabulary and writing skills, he clearly is intelligent. But he also clearly only reads information that fits his convenient worldview – and then spews opinions that graphically display his ignorance of the issue.

    I won’t even comment on his comparison of Obama to a czar. I thought czars were generally powerful, autocratic and unaccustomed to compromise.

  16. jimd August 3, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    What other conclusion can you draw when you see pictures of Obama with a bone in his nose at Tea Party events or Rush Limpdick refer to him as a halfro-american? This is what it is, the Tea Party should just own it. The joke to me is the Tea Party was hijacked by corporate America 5 minutes into its existence. The rank and file are being played like a harp and don’t seem to know it.

  17. Jaquandor August 3, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Wow, is Ward ever stupid. That’s a breathtakingly wrong comment upthread. Tea Partiers didn’t give two shits when their Republican President and Republican Congress turned surpluses into enormous deficits; no, they only found their anger at the deficit when a Democrat took office. Then, it was time to storm the bastille!

    Oh, and the first “czar”, as such, was William Bennett as “drug czar”, during a Republican Presidency. The mental gymnastics it must take to convince oneself that nothing bad ever happens when a Republican holds office are staggering to behold.

  18. Greg August 3, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Ward reminds me of “Banana Man” Ray Comfort. He definitely has a high IQ, but there is something very wrong with his brain such that he simply cannot see outside his tiny window of a worldview — no matter how many times he’s proven wrong, and no matter how obvious it to everyone else around him.

    Ray Comfort: “The Creation story is real! God made bananas so they fit in our hand perfectly!”
    Evolutionary biologist: “Actually, Ray, the modern banana was bred by humans. Natural bananas are inedible.”
    Ray: “Oh, well, God made it so humans could do that! The Creation story is real!”

  19. Allen Miller August 3, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Something I learned last week was that the debt was almost equal to GDP. Today it happened that the debt is greater than GDP.

    These days I make my money by processing bankruptcies and mortgage foreclosures. All I can say is that I hope the current government policies stay forever. Sadly business has been great.

  20. Hank August 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Allen–You should give Barney Frank and Chris Dodd each a big wet sloppy kiss—Barney will dig it the most. They’re the two morons who thought that the American Dream of Home Ownership should be a RIGHT for EVERY American, WHETHER THEY COULD AFFORD IT OR NOT. My father’s Generation was the 4th “off the boat” from Europe, and the first that purchased their homes. WHY? BECAUSE THE OTHERS COULDN’T AFFORD IT. And the “Nanny State” wasn’t there to grant them wishes they couldn’t afford to pay for. The resulting collapse of the housing market, plus some foolish games on Wall Street started the collapse that is making you well off today.

    The whole debt ceiling deal proves something that all should see, and for the first time on a National issue, I think Alan nailed it. RE-ELECTION is more important than doing THE RIGHT THING.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

      Let’s be clear – the country paying its bills when they come due is also the right thing. Holding that hostage is decidedly the wrong thing.

  21. Bbill August 4, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    Why are wingers so chronically obsessed with male homoeroticism anyway? Seem to be some latency issues with the Limbaugh crowd.

  22. Howard Owens August 4, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    I learned that Obama is a failure as a president. Not because, as the right would say, he’s a socialist or just because he’s Obama.

    He’s a failure because he has absolutely no leadership ability. He talks a good game, but can’t deliver the goods.

    As a right leaning sort of guy, a lot of the goods he has promised haven’t necessarily been what I wanted, but at the end of the day, there’s just no denying his failure to deliver. I could respect the man more if he delivered, even if I disagreed with the policy. He’s failed on health policy, on foreign policy, on domestic policy and on fiscal policy. Never in my life has a president — not even Jimmy Carter or George W. Bush — gotten straight F’s.

    • Alan Bedenko August 5, 2011 at 5:59 am #

      @Howard Owens: Here is the counterpoint to your argument, which also ignores the fact that never before has a President been so consistently and effectively attacked not just for what he thinks, but who he is, by his opponents. The Republican strategy since Clinton has been to attack a Democratic President’s very legitimacy, and they went balls to the wall on that with Obama. They have stymied every single thing he’s attempted to do to help and fix the economy. If anything, he’s been too willing to compromise with people who barely, if at all, accept the legitimacy of his Presidency.

      When he came into office, he was illegitimate because he was a Muslim Kenyan socialist who isn’t a natural-born citizen, doesn’t wear a lapel pin, pals around with terrorists, etc. Now, he’s illegitimate because he is a “failure” and has “absolutely no leadership ability” and “can’t deliver the goods”. When you say he “failed” on health policy, you’re saying he’s compromised on health policy, which is precisely what our particular brand of separated powers and divided government is designed to require.

      The point is more fully fleshed out at Kevin Drum’s piece here, arguing that Obama actually happens to be one of the most effective Presidents in recent memory.

  23. Bbill August 5, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    There’s also the horrors of dijon mustard and arugula lettuce. Pardon me while I faint.

    Never in my life has a president — not even Jimmy Carter or George W. Bush — gotten straight F’s.

    Don’t forget, many of today’s most rabid Obama haters were competing with each other in 2003-2004 as to who could demonstrate the most fealty, the highest level of unquestioning loyalty, to that glorious and magnificent Commander, George W Bush. For those folks I’d ask, where does the Great Man NOT get straight F’s? He destroyed the economy, looted the Treasury and started a war based on lies. As it happens, having a rogue White House turned out not to be in the country’s best interest, whocouldanode?

    We’ll give him credit for the National Do Not Call Registry, though. Apparently Halliburton didn’t rely on telemarketing to pick your pocket.

  24. Eric Saldanha August 5, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    @ Howard Owens – the “failure” tag you’re so eager to assign would be better placed on Speaker Boehner’s orange forehead. In a scant eight months, he’s proven to be among the most ineffectual, disorganized and incompetent Speakers in history. This was illustrated by the recent debt ceiling “crisis”, where he had to have his bacon pulled out of the fire by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, of all people.

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