Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Really, Kevin Drum? You really believe this about the State of the Union address?

With only a very few exceptions that were passed over pretty quickly (healthcare reform is great, student loan reform is great), there was almost literally nothing in there that couldn't have been in a George W. Bush speech.... And even if you grant that "invest" is just another word for "spend," he was mostly talking about the kind of spending the Republicans could, in theory, go along with.

Republicans now could go along with it? That's absurd. And while it may be true that a lot of what Obama said could have been in a speech from the Bush presidency, it couldn't be in a Bush speech today -- not if Bush was hoping to win reelection to some office in the future. He'd almost certainly have to repudiate TARP, deny global climate change, and abandon any approach to immigration that doesn't begin and end with rounding 'em all up and deporting 'em, while sealing the borders. He'd surely argue that Keynesianism is exactly the wrong approach to economic downturns, the correct approach being (of course) tax cuts and less regulation. As far to the right as Bush was, he'd have to tack further to the right if he wanted to keep up with the modern GOP. He'd have to tack as fast as John McCain did in the 2010 campaign.

I watched both the Michele Bachmann tea party response and the Paul Ryan party-sanctioned Republican response, and what struck me was that the Ryan response was almost exactly as teabaggy as Bachmann's. In fact, maybe more so -- he referred to "limited government" six times in an eleven-minute speech (and threw in a seventh "limited" -- "We believe government's role is both vital and limited" -- in case you didn't get the message). He linked this to "the wisdom of the founders ... the spirit of the Declaration of Independence; and ... the words of the American Constitution," like a good teabagger. He blamed "our leaders" and "Washington" for the financial crisis before blaming "Wall Street" (clearly a nod and wink to those who believe that Barney Frank and Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act deserve most, if not all, the blame. And he praised "sound money" -- hello, Ron Paul fans.

This is the official GOP line. Obama may sound like a Republican to Kevin Drum, but modern Republicans sound like Republicans cranked up to 11, or 22, or 99. They can't agree to any kind of non-military spending increases "in theory." It's not allowed.


An oddly similar sentiment to Drum's, from Ben Stein:

There were only a few glimpses of Obama the "intellectual" socialist on display tonight. Mostly, his speech sounded as if it could have been given by any 1958 Republican elementary school student.

Hey, the Republican we had as president in 1958 presided over massive infrastructure spending and a top marginal tax rate of 91% on the last few dollars earned by the superrich. I'd take that.


By the way, I'm not even going to get into Stein's racist critique of the passages on education in Obama's speech. Stein says,

When Mr. Obama says he's going to reform American education by setting higher standards, he is just baying at the moon. Most of the nation's public school pupils are not achieving at even close to the rates of the students in other advanced nations. The problem is intensely concentrated among the nonwhite students of this nation.

I'll just direct you to this Atlantic article, which makes clear that this is utter bollocks.

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