At some moment just before or after the 2006 midterms, when Republicans first realized that Karl Rove and the Bush White House team were not political geniuses but rather just cynical political operatives with more ego than sense, a few of them must have figured out that continuing to follow the Bush White House could destroy the Republican Party’s brand and risk losing both Congress and the White House two years later.
Let us hope there are enough sensible progressives left to realize that same moment has come for them.
One hardly knows whether to laugh or cry at this astonishing opening in todays NYT lead story:
WASHINGTON — President Obama’s political advisers, looking for ways to help Democrats and alter the course of the midterm elections in the final weeks, are considering a range of ideas, including national advertisements, to cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists, people involved in the discussion said.
Really? How good of the White House to notice their party is about to be wiped out by one of the most anti-democratic political movements in our lifetimes. When did they notice?
Everyone except the President’s genius team understood that when Republicans began to obstruct every Democratic proposal from day one, that it meant the Republicans had become irresponsible nihilists willing to destroy the economy and the middle class to regain power. It was clear from the birthers’ first cries of "socialism" and "death panels" they would inflame their followers with lies, demagoguery and fear mongering. Sentient observers knew the demagogues and their hate-talk media would do everything they could to convince voters that any Democratic Administration, let alone that of a Muslim/Kenyan, was illegitimate. They were at war, and only now the White House thinks maybe it should respond, with, uh, some ads.
The resulting emergence and success of openly crazier candidates should not have surprised anyone. And yet the White House is just now leaking to the Times that it might be useful to warn the nation it’s in danger of being taken over by the worst of America’s crazies.
The self-proclaimed political geniuses in the Obama White House, starting with the President himself, Rahm Emanuel’s political shop of horrors and extending to all of the emperor’s naked loyalists in the Party’s leadership — has there ever been a more inept crew than Tim Kaine, Van Hollen, Harry Reid, Steny Hoyer? — are systematically destroying their Party, and given what they’ve become, few are shedding a tear.
But the Obama conserva-Dem Team is also setting back for the next generation liberals/progressives and their causes, damaging the credibility of a progressive democratic brand that was born in the Great Depression and gained voters’ trust by recreating government to put the public interest first, even if that meant taking on the most powerful economic interests.
And it retained that trust by saying about the those interests, "I welcome their hatred." The Obama regime has lost that trust by ignoring all the lessons of that era. Its motto is, "let’s make a deal." Or "what do we need to do to get your campaign contributions?" As Obama keeps telling us, his hero is Ronald Reagan, not FDR; he should have told us that the guiding ideology of the Conservative-Reagan era wrecked the economy, created the worst inequality in our history, and is still destroying the middle class.
The Republican brand was virtually dead by 2008. To accomplish such a turnaround, after being handed a huge mandate to change the country’s fundamental direction, this Administration has approached every one of the nation’s staggering problems as though all that was needed was a modest redirection in focus, an adjustment in priorities, a few more billions here instead of there, better regulation by the same regulators who were asleep and disinclined to act the last time, but nothing that would fundamentally change the structure of how the country’s most powerful and damaging institutions operate. Faced with the need for boldness and courage, they worshipped timidity and preached first patience and then acceptance and docility among worried citizens.
The President repeatedly told us that many of the solutions were "Republican ideas" and that responsible Republicans were acting in good faith. How many times do you recall this White House saying, "what this problem needs is a strongly progressive solution"? Or the dismantling of powerful interests? Any yet if you look at the measures the White House and apologists now point to as "achievements," they were more often deeply popular holdover progressive ideas that Congress passed in the momentum following the elections. They did not pass as a result of the White House overcoming massive opposition.
While taking credit for what he did not achieve with much effort, the President and his men have repeatedly denigrated and belittled progressives and ignored their ideas. The measure of this is how unusual it is to have Liz Warren gain a position in the Administration over the objections of Obama’s closest advisers.
Now the White House strategy is to blame progressives and voters themselves for their lack of enthusiasm for a regime that has left 15 million unemployed, permitted record levels of poverty and decimated state public programs, threatens social security and teeters on the edge of a second recession with no credible plans for near-term relief. Fittingly, his new chief economic adviser doubles as a stand up comic.
And they still don’t get it. The Times article tells us this White House is having trouble focusing on a plausible political strategy for the midterm elections only weeks away, because they’re preoccupied with Rahm Emanuel’s expected run for mayor of Chicago. Are they serious?
The Chief Of Staff is the Obama White House’s senior political adviser, but the Times hints he and his aides are worrying about what’s best for him and not his country, Party or President? There’s a solution for that one.