STUCK IN A MOMENT THEY CAN'T GET OUT OF
Steve Benen ticks off the many, many Republicans and right-wingers who've taken the side of BP on the issue of the escrow account -- Joe Barton, Michele Bachmann, Haley Barbour, the Heritage Foundation, and so on -- and asks,
What on earth is going on here?
I suspect there are two factors playing out.
The first is that Republicans probably feel like they don't have a choice, at least in a partisan sense.... After all, whatever Democrats are for, Republicans are against, regardless or merit or circumstances....
The second is that BP is a giant, private oil company, and when it's under fire, the Republicans' knee-jerk response is to launch a defense. Even if BP is to blame -- even if BP is criminally responsible -- Republicans want to blame government, bureaucrats, and environmentalists. Holding a giant corporation accountable just makes the GOP uncomfortable.
Yeah, but it's more than that.
If you see what came out of negotiations between BP and the White House through the eyes of Palin/Beck/Paul/Limbaugh/tea party Republicans, it tracks many of the memes they've been trying to spread for a year and a half. These memes operate on the perceptions of the people who spread them as much as they do on receptive listeners who hear them over and over again, especially if the meme-spreaders live in a small, insular world where the only people they talk to are other meme-spreaders. And that pretty much describes the modern Fox/tea party GOP.
Meme #1: Obama not only hates capitalism but is seeking to destroy capitalism in America. Meme #2: Obama has an unholy lust for corporations -- he wants to take as many of them over as possible. Meme #3: Obama is the sinister gene-spliced hellspawn of Al Capone and Saul Alinsky, with Bill Ayers and Piven and Cloward thrown in -- for him, capitalist enterprises are there to be shaken down, Mob-style, but the proceeds, instead of being pocketed, are to be redistributed to Obama's ideological "cronies" (ACORN! SEIU!). Meme #4: Everything that upsets right-wingers about Obama upsets them because it's in violation of the Constitution. It's not merely that they don't like any of it -- it's that it's all illegal, every last bit of it, from reforming health care to hiring advisers the press refers to as "czars."
Right-wingers don't just say these things to gull the rubes. Right-wingers have actually come to believe this stuff.
Thus, Ben Stein on the escrow fund:
But the action of the President in demanding this immense transfer of the stockholders' wealth without any legislation or court decision is extremely worrisome.
We live in a Constitutional Republic. The President's job under the Constitution is to enforce the laws made by the elected Congress. His job is not to create new laws and enforce them all by himself. His job is as magistrate under the Constitution, not as Caudillo. He is not the law. He is supposed to enforce what Congress decides.
The BP behavior is reminiscent of how, immediately after assuming office, Mr. Obama, with no Congressional authority or administrative allowance, simply made a phone call to fire the head of GM.
(Um, yeah -- as if the guy would have still had a job in any event had the White House not saved the company from liquidation.)
Thus, commenter RealityChk in a Fox Nation thread about Michele Bachmann's remarks:
Don't you realize that Obama used threats against BP to fashion the extortion back room deal with BP to create a slush fund that Obama's Czar will control. This is the Chicago Corrupt Politics way to make money from a slush fund where there is usually very little public accountability. Just as there has been very little "Public Accountability" for the $$$Trillion Stimulus funds that were dished out to Obama's friends, unions, supporters, etc. The Escrow Fund will benefit Obama more than it will benefit the Gulf States.
And a follow-up comment from someone named Scott - CO:
You are a FOOL if you think one dime of this $$ will go to anyone other than a Marxist union thug, acorn or libturds who support this FASCIST!
They believe this stuff. And they believe it especially in this case because a corporation's ox is being gored, because money is being (as they like to put it) "redistributed," and because Obama seems to be acting as tough as they say he always is (even though he hardly ever is).
This is reality that's just too close to their Obama fever dreams for them to formulate a more prudent response. They've worked themselves up into a paranoid lather, and now reality kinda looks like their delusions.