Miss Un-congeniality

It’s a phenomenon that began as soon as George W. Bush was safely installed in office; all that hogwash about “compassionate” conservatism and “humble” foreign policy went right out the window, to be replaced with Bush’s natural “sore winner” pose.  Policies appeared to be designed not for their efficacy, but for their offensiveness to key right-wing bogeymen.  Everyone could see that refusing to honor his campaign promise to regulate carbon emissions was more about the Bush team’s hatred of environmentalists than it was even about rewarding his dirty-energy friends.  Ditto unilaterally pulling out of the International Criminal Court: at the time it appeared that this shocking and aberrant decision was designed solely to annoy European allies and the UN.  Somewhat less well-remembered, evidently, is that such rash behavior in Bush’s first year left him with dreadful approval ratings, only to be saved by Sept. 11.  Sadly, his misguided and similarly revenge-driven misadventure in Iraq that followed rendered him, by the time he left office, the worst and least-liked president in modern American history.

Republicans, who unaccountably thought he was super-wonderful the whole time and still do, predictably learned the wrong lesson from the last decade.  In their bubble world, you’re doing something wrong unless large numbers of people despis you, so guys like Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rick Scott of Florida, John Kasich of Ohio can be forgiven for their absurd overconfidence, and poor Jonah Goldberg can likewise be forgiven for thinking Rep. Paul Ryan is a towering specimen of Presidential timber.  All have employed the lowest of Bush tactics: demonizing (and creating) enemies, flouting due process, shutting down dissent, and lying when the truth would sound better, and all have scored Pyrrhic victories here and there before crashing into a solid wall of public and judicial opposition.  All are, to varying degrees, in deep electoral jeopardy, with upside-down approval ratings and recall elections looming for the worst of them.  None of them will be remotely able to help the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, except perhaps by hiding out in Rush Limbaugh’s guest house for six months.

Now, if you were a normal politician in such a situation, you might attempt a little bit of a public course correction, but these are Republicans, whose contempt for ordinary voters is only matched by their contempt for democracy itself, so they have a better idea: disenfranchising voters.  From Florida to Wisconsin, a passel of  restrictive voter-ID laws, hatched by Koch-funded ALEC, are being rammed through partisan legislatures and fast-tracked to kick in before angry voters can return to the polls.  Nationally, Republicans are blithely dismissing a string of recent special election defeats as a mere failure of “messaging.”  Really.

What they’re saying is that the large number of Americans who rightly despise them shouldn’t be voting at all, and of the rest of them, not a few are too dumb to make up their own minds without being shown Frank Luntz flash cards.  Is it possible that such obnoxious treatment, once haughtily doled out to easy targets like hippies, gays, brown people, and their ilk, is finally going to reach a tipping point when it lands equally on old people, teachers, firemen, bus drivers, nurses, lifeguards, policemen, scientists, and what have you?   The point of offending people for political gain, as practiced by Republicans, is to gain the loyalty of those who don’t like the target group, thus forgoing relatively few votes to gain many more.  Thus, the strategy depends on simple arithmetic….  ah, that’s it.  For Republicans, arithmetic has now gone the way of evolution, climate change, and economics; that is, it’s slipped the surly bonds of reality to ascend, gloriously, into the ether of faith.  Remember Karl Rove’s “math,” which proved beyond a doubt that Republicans would retain the House in 2006?  That’s what’s happening here.

Republicans got so busy subtracting people from their supporters that they forgot about adding them on the other side, and thus are left hoping, once again, that money can buy love, or at least votes.   At the rate they’re going, they might as well open a Tiffany’s account for every American and skip the annoying barrage of corporate-sponsored attack ads.  It might be cheaper, and after all, if it worked for Newt…..





  1. nswfm says:

    From Geo Washington’s post on ZeroHedge:

    note the date: Monday 27 March 2006
    “Keeping our attention on Iraq has allowed this administration to do what it came to do under cover of darkness. They have managed to eviscerate dozens of federal regulations designed to make sure our children aren’t born with gills or seventeen eyes thanks to the pollution in the air, water and food. The Clean Air Act is pretty much gone now, as are requirements for food safety labeling. GOP “pension reform” means growing old in America amounts to growing poor, just like in the good old days of the Depression. Millions of elderly people have been fed to the wolves by way of the new Medicare Plan D calamity. There are now tens of millions more poor people in America, the middle class is evaporating, but top incomes are up 497% according to the Federal Reserve.

    The administration has also used Iraq to accomplish a goal the GOP has been pining for since 1934. Since the advent of FDR and the creation of federally-funded safety nets for the neediest Americans, the Goldwater wing of the Republican party has been lusting after an opportunity to savage the government’s ability to serve its citizens in this fashion. Their argument has been that it cost too much to do this, required too much taxation, and was harmful to business interests.”

    Now look at this chart:

    • cocktailhag says:

      Sadly, you’re right. Bush, by any measure except popularity, was an astonishing success. Even if he failed to get rid of Social Security, he certainly emptied the cash drawer enough to make to make it palatable. But I do think these sorts of tricks only work once; hence the slowness of Republicans to enter the 2012 field. After all, there’s no surplus left to plunder except Social Security, and grabbing it now isn’t going over so well. Might as well wait.

  2. The Heel says:

    I am very curious about the validity of your assumption that those tricks only work once. Right now it sure appears as if the Reps will not be able to place a strong candidate.
    My take is that the swing voters will be more crucial than ever and as a portion of society will be smaller than ever before. Anybody right of Ron Paul already hates Obama, religiously. Anybody left of Ron Paul will not vote republican out of principal. Oh wait, that means Ron Paul will decide who is president :)

    I am still taking bets (champagne)…

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, first of all, using Ron Paul as a center point is pretty ridiculous… After all, on the wars, Israel, civil liberties, hookers, and pot, he’s practically a hippie, far to the left of any elected Democrat, and on abortion, taxation, and regulation of business, he’s to the right of Ronald Reagan. That odd mix of conflicting philosophies doesn’t put him in the “center.” As the center, sadly, I would propose Joe Lieberman, pro war, pro-rich, pro secrecy, anti-civil rights, but not too nuts about going after the gays. That, sadly, is the “center.” And as such, Joe Lieberman dictated that there would be no public option, and pulled many other noteworthy, undemocratic coups. Nobody in any real power, right or left, pays any attention to Ron Paul, because he embarrasses both sides and satisfies no one.

  3. dirigo says:

    “Sara can ride on the back of a chopper if she wants to.”

    – Anonymous Rolling Thunder spokesperson

  4. Ché Pasa says:

    They live on the People’s hatred for them. It’s quite demonic. The more they’re hated, the more they thrive.

    You saw it plain as day with the Busheviks, particularly House Cheney (still at it, full tilt). They feed on your hatred. They need it. They will perish without it.

    The Cheneys, though, haven’t got a thing on the current crop of rightist monsters in office, so many of them from Wisconsin it seems. (Ryan, Walker, the Fitzgerald brothers, etc.) But Kasich is a real piece of work. He’s got the HellFire in him, doesn’t he? “Hate me! Hate me, you damfools! Hate me so’s I can fuck you up even more!”

    These monsters are in office because Dems and Indies didn’t vote 2010. They stayed home because they were so disappointed in their putative Saviour, His Serenity Mister Obama and those lousy, corrupt, and spineless excuses for representatives, that HEUUUUUGE Democratic majority in Congress.

    From the Rightist point of view, if the Stupid Dems and their Indie fellow travelers won’t even vote, why should they have the franchise to begin with? They wouldn’t even notice if it were taken from them since they aren’t using it anyway.

    It’s the same logic that got Jim Crow enacted.

    It works.

    And it took a century to partially overturn it.

    I’m “disappointed” the Dems and Obama aren’t the Socialists the Rs speciously claim they are. On the other hand, if it is a choice between A Generic Dem and Scott Walker or John Kasich, or any of the other Rightist berserkers, I’ll generally take the Dem.

    Not that it does any good.

    • cocktailhag says:

      First comes the hatred, and then…. Running to Mommy crying about those mean old liberals and lamestream media. It’s a cycle, and it run so fast that sometimes the whining starts before the criticism.
      It was most comical during the Bush era, when they had all three branches of government and mostly worshipful coverage in the press, and yet they constantly posed as a persecuted minority.

  5. dirigo says:

    Sarah Palin spent some time during the last news cycle in Boston, my home town; and she said Paul Revere rang some bells at the Old North Church after practically wearing his horse out to get to town in time to warn the British about the Second Amendment.

    She said Paul was adamant about freedom and told the redcoats so, in no uncertain terms.

    I didn’t know that.

    At press time it wasn’t clear whether the darling of the tundra was planning a visit to the Witch House in Salem; but she did visit New Hampshire, as expected.

    • cocktailhag says:

      That was hi-larious, wud’n it? The clip from CNN was the best part. Seems my stinky brother just met that Brooke Baldwin a couple of weeks ago in Mexico. No monkey business, he was chagrined to report. Even more so now. I’ll bet.

      • dirigo says:

        Several rather insane tornadoes struck Massachusetts this past week. Palin was the one which created the most damage.