Friday, February 20, 2009

They Sure Showed That Obama.

Frank Rich has an excellent article in the New York Times which highlights just how wrong conventional Beltway wisdom has been in evaluating Obama and just how out of touch the Republicans are currently with the rest of America.

The same crowd that said he was a wimpy hope-monger who could never beat Hillary or get white votes was played for fools again.

On Wednesday, as
a stimulus deal became a certainty on Capitol Hill, I asked David Axelrod for his take on this Groundhog Day relationship between Obama and the political culture.

“It’s why our campaign was not based in Washington but in Chicago,” he said. “We were somewhat insulated from the echo chamber. In the summer of ’07, the conventional wisdom was that Obama was a shooting star; his campaign was irretrievably lost; it was a ludicrous strategy to focus on Iowa; and we were falling further and further behind in the national polls.” But even after the Iowa victory, this same syndrome kept repeating itself. When Obama came out against the gas-tax holiday supported by both McCain and Clinton last spring, Axelrod recalled, “everyone in D.C. thought we were committing suicide.”

The stimulus battle was more of the same. “This town talks to itself and whips itself into a frenzy with its own theories that are completely at odds with what the rest of America is thinking,” he says. Once the frenzy got going, it didn’t matter that most polls showed support for Obama and his economic package: “If you watched cable TV, you’d see our support was plummeting, we were in trouble. It was almost like living in a parallel universe.”

For Axelrod, the moral is “not just that Washington is too insular but that the American people are a lot smarter than people in Washington think.”
It really has been astonishing to watch the way the media have ignored the fact that, contrary to all opinion polls, support for Obama's stimulus package was always portrayed as the opposite of what it actually was. The Republicans are now putting out adverts celebrating the fact that not a single house Republican voted for the package as if that is some form of victory. They really do still appear to think that reality is whatever they state it to be. It's insane.
But the Republicans are busy high-fiving themselves and celebrating “victory.” Even in defeat, they are still echoing the 24/7 cable mantra about the stimulus’s unpopularity. This self-congratulatory mood is summed up by a Wall Street Journal columnist who wrote that “the House Republicans’ zero votes for the Obama presidency’s stimulus ‘package’ is looking like the luckiest thing to happen to the G.O.P.’s political fortunes since Ronald Reagan switched parties.” There hasn’t been this much delusional giddiness in these ranks since Monica Lewinsky promised a surefire Republican sweep in the 1998 midterms.
The current Republican party is delusional, oblivious to the mess which they helped to create and sticking to the theories which led to the carnage. They are claiming victory for opposing a stimulus package which has actually passed and talking of objecting on the grounds of a fiscal responsibility which they did not display when they were in office.

I actually think that Axelrod is right and that the Republicans are wildly underestimating the intelligence of the average American. They appear to believe that if they simply say something often enough that the public will come to believe it, which is really no different from the arrogant theories which were pushed during the Bush years.
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
That way of thinking led to disaster and there is nothing to suggest that the Republican party have learned the lesson.
This G.O.P., a largely white Southern male party with talking points instead of ideas and talking heads instead of leaders, is not unlike those “zombie banks” that we’re being asked to bail out. It is in too much denial to acknowledge its own insolvency and toxic assets. Given the mess the country is in, it would be helpful to have an adult opposition that could pull its weight, but that’s not the hand America has been dealt.
I said before the election that I thought the financial crisis - and the failure of deregulation to answer all the worlds ills - would leave the Republican party in crisis. After all, the theories which they had been espousing for the best part of thirty years were unravelling in front of their eyes. But they remain resolute in their determination to insist that reality is whatever they say it is and that, eventually, the rest of us will come to see that they were right and we were wrong.

They really are a party out of touch with the rest of the country. And, as long as they persist with their current madness, it's impossible to imagine them ever being electable.

Click title for Rich's article.


Steel Phoenix said...

I read and comment on quite a lot of republican blogs each day. Most of them are written by intelligent people, or I wouldn't bother reading them. What I see, though, is that the majority of them seem to have a penchant for getting really wound up and unreasonable. Picture if you drank a (insert big European unit of measure here) of whiskey, then found out a Mexican had just taken your job and your girlfriend. Then you went and wrote a blog post. This seems to happen to them several times a day. They don't want to be reasonable, or even right, they just want to rant for a while. They look for a scapegoat and lash out.

Kel said...

SP, that is exactly what I find whenever I read any of them. I find their anger and their bile quite overwhelming.

The more extreme of them, the Michelle Malkins of the world, seem to me to function only through their ability to hate. It's like air to them.