In my last post, I told you that Peggy Noonan thinks our current fiscal battle is so unfair to Republicans, who are constitutionally banned from making an appealing case to the public (or something like that). Now we find John Podhoretz also arguing that we should shed a tear for Republicans, who have the deck stacked against them, largely through circumstances they couldn't possibly have controlled:
Now, as the Right tries to pick itself up and dust itself off and start all over again, it finds itself in the heat of a battle for which it is learning it is rhetorically and emotionally unprepared.Yes -- Republicans and conservatives were "unprepared" to do battle over the sequester -- which was signed into law sixteen months ago! Who remembers this stuff? You enter in your calendar and then you get that little electronic reminder, and you forget all about it! Doesn't that happen to everyone?
The "fiscal cliff" coming on Dec. 31 will automatically cause everyone's taxes to rise and draconian defense cuts to go into effect. That leaves Republicans and conservatives having to fight a very public battle on these matters only weeks after a national defeat.
And they've somehow been maneuvered into arguing that benefits must be cut and taxes on the wealthy must not be raised -- without having a single populist argument in their favor.
And they're having to deal with this immediately after an election! Not fair! It's not as if President Obama and the Democrats just went through an election -- oh, wait....
And they've been maneuvered -- somehow! -- into saying benefits should be cut and taxes on the wealthy not raised! What scoundrels did this to them?
They lack "a single populist argument," and Podhoretz sighs:
Thus, the political movement that came to maturity by advocating for dynamic American optimism has morphed into what it was at its most pinched and parched in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s: the eat-your-vegetables-and-shut-up party.Is that the GOP's problem? Not exactly. In recent years, the GOP hasn't been "the eat-your-vegetables-and-shut-up party." It's been the party that always wanted, um, certain people to eat their vegetables and shut up. You know who I mean. Immigrants. "Union thugs." Single women who have sex. People who aren't country music lovers and NRA members. People with particular melanin levels. Those people.
But this year -- especially after Mitt Romney mouthed off about the "47%" -- we learned that there seem to be more of those people than there are the GOP's people, and many of the people the Republicans thought were theirs felt that all this Republican talk about "takers" who aren't "makers" was aimed at them.
So it's not that the GOP doesn't have a populist argument -- it's that the GOP's populist argument was a divide-and-conquer argument. And now too many people feel they're not on the GOP's side of the divide.