Thursday, October 10, 2013


Hi, it's Steve -- I'm back, though this blog was on fire while I was gone, so maybe I should have stayed away a few more days. Thank you, Aimai, Crank, and Tom. You did a hell of a job.


Today's headlines make it seem as if the shutdown crisis could be coming to an end -- Politico says Republicans are backing away from the fight over Obamacare, though only to shift it to spending and entitlements; the Koch brothers are also insisting that they care more about the latter issues than Obamacare, and say they really don't want a debt default. And, of course, Paul Ryan published that op-ed yesterday in which he brought up a number of GOP priorities, but didn't mention Obamacare.

The conventional wisdom is that Republicans know they're losing. I'd put it in a slighly different way: the members of the crazy caucus thought by now they'd be winning, with the country rallying to their side and the White House desperate to do something about the newly unleashed anti-Obamacare rage. Everyone else in the GOP just went along for the ride, terrified of primary challenges.

Republicans clearly aren't winning -- but I don't see signs that they're losing. Everyone is losing, which means no one is losing. Yes, there are polls like that Gallup survey that came out yesterday, the one that showed Republican favorability sinking to a record low. But Democratic favorability is down, too. And a lot of people who don't like the GOP right now are Republicans, which almost certainly means that they'll turn out in 2014 and vote Republican. I'm with Ed Kilgore, who thinks Republican voters see their party as inadequately extreme but still preferable to the alternative, and I'm also with Charlie Pierce:
... as far as the people who are driving the Reign Of The Morons are concerned, these numbers mean precisely dick.

They will look at the poll and see themselves as battling evermore valiantly against even more overwhelming odds. They will see themselves beset on all sides by liberals, and RINOs, and crooked pollsters. They will go back to their carefully barbered congressional districts ... and see these numbers almost completely reversed there, so what are they to do but keep on keepin' on doing their people's business against the powerful dark forces arrayed against them all.
Pierce adds:
Most of the elite courtier press likely will ignore them, or attribute them to a disgust by "the American people" toward the "dysfunction" in Washington, without ever naming the obvious source thereof.
And that's a huge problem: people who read lefty blogs blame Republicans, and even people who read Politico and other insider-y news sources see the shutdown as the Republicans' doing -- but the general-interest media is presenting this as two indistinguishably bratty kids fighting in a sandbox. Here's the top-of-the-fold photo on page 1 of today's print New York Times:

I came home last night and watched an NBC news broadcast that started with seven minutes of huffy outrage about death benefits for servicemembers -- a problem presented as "the government's" fault or Congress's the White House's. The notion that this happened because Republicans shut down the government was nowhere in evidence:

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This could be the first seven minutes of a Fox news broadcast, but it's on "liberal" NBC. The extremely self-righteous first story is from Andrea Mitchell -- host of a daytime show on MSNBC, which idiot mainstream pundits think is the exact 24/7 angry analogue to Fox. So, no, the Republicans aren't losing. They're backing off because they're not winning, but everyone is losing. John Boehner's favorable rating is down 14, according to Gallup, but Barack Obama's is down 10. And Obama's job approval is down to 37% in the AP/GfK poll. Obama's numbers will come more or less to the status quo ante -- but so will the Republicans'. This is not the moment when everyone sees how crazy the GOP is. It seems as if it's not even theoretically possible for that moment to arrive, unless and until Republicans literally start a war with real bullets. And yes, that could happen someday. But for now, there's no significant shift in public opinion, except downward, for all involved.


Victor said...

Let's all welcome, uhm... what's-his-name back from the Witless Relocation Program!!!

Victor said...

Oh a serious note, Steve, WELCOME BACK!

And yeah, I don't see any meme movement in the MSM, either.

And with the help of the MSM, while their meme's seem to be eternal, the memories of the American public makes May Flies seem like Jeopardy contestants.

Chris Andersen said...

If the Republicans started a war with real bullets our glorious media would find a way to say the Democrats brought it on themselves.

Tom Hilton said...

Saw some of the Andrea Mitchell piece, and it made me furious. Worse still was Maddow highlighting it, letting her vet-activist buddy say both parties are responsible without challenging it at all. And nobody having the guts to pipe up and say "you know, privileging one set of shutdown victims over all the others is a really shitty way to govern."

The New York Crank said...

Welcome back Steve. You're just in time to witness our once-proud Republic turn from Bananastan into Italy in 1948, although a widely varied assortment of fools will undoubtedly push ahead on both fronts.

I still feel that in an attempt to appear "reasonable" to the likes of Andrea Mitchell and other msm folks, the president will trade away critical chunks of Medicare and Social Security.

Chained CPI, anybody?

Very crankily yours,
Well, you know

Buford said...

Who's back? This isn't the Bachmann, and Cruz "We Love 'Em" page? ok, kidding aside, couldn't get enough punishment while on vacation?
Your timing IS impeccable, tho...We are coming to "Peak Crazy" soon...almost like a pimple coming to a ass boil ready to burst...welcome back to the Monkey House...

Knight of Nothing said...

Welcome back, SteveM. Thank you for giving Aimai, NY Crank, and Tom Hilton the chance to fill in. I'm continuously amazed & astonished to discover how deep the writer's bench is - the interwebs are so full of talented writers with thoughtful things to say - a seemingly endless supply. I should know this by now, but it remains a source of pleasure.

I wonder what a public opinion "tipping point" would look like - it seems like we've approached and passed dozens by now with no measurable effect. I want to believe that it is theoretically possible that Republican insanity become generally acknowledged, and not just in the instance of actual war with bullets. But it's hard to imagine what that tipping point might be.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Welcome back.

No surrender. No deals. And Abolish the debt limit. It's just a stupid tool for more hostage taking.

Victor said...

I'd also like to add my thanks to aimai, NY Crank, and Tom Hilton!

Steve M. said...

I still feel that in an attempt to appear "reasonable" to the likes of Andrea Mitchell and other msm folks, the president will trade away critical chunks of Medicare and Social Security.

Chained CPI, anybody?

Yes, Obama is very willing to let us down on this. On the other hand, he seems serious about getting tax increases in return. That has the effect of being a 100% guarantee that we won't get chained CPI or other Medicare and Social Security cuts, because Republicans won't give an inch on taxes to get cuts.

aimai said...

Welcome back, SteveM! I can only speak for myself in saying this but man, keeping this site moving as fast as you do, effortlessly, was not easy! How do you do it? I hope you are tanned, rested, and ready because the crazy has not let up.

Steve M. said...

Well, you hit it out of the park. Thanks....

Knight of Nothing said...

Also, love the EC reference. You and DougJ always seem to be on that tip...

Greg said...

I've enjoyed the "relief pitchers" here, while also looking much forward to the great Steve's return.

Been saying for years that collectively the broadcast MSM is an enemy of the state. (Print/digital also enables the bad guys, although not at this point in nearly the way the broadcasters do.) The political & market forces that drag the goalposts to the right mostly don't effect broadcasters in their insular elitist playgrounds. Whether the false equivalences come more from market strategy -- helping keep the horserace alive draws more viewers -- or from, as I think is not given enough focus, a New Age-y philosophical commitment to centrism-for-centrism's sake, the MSM powers that be seem locked in, not to budge unless perhaps forced from the outside.

That said, I think the Republican crazy is so bad that it may well still damage the GOP brand for '14 and '16, even with the built-in MSM blindspot. But Steve reminds us correctly that whatever punishment the GOP receives won't be nearly as much as it deserves, as long as the fucking media is the way it is.

Examinator said...

A lesson from history
Disraeli at least once said
" A Conservative Government is an organized hypocrisy" and
"Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative"

Proof that nothing is really new certainly Conservative reasoning .
Same poop same smell, different color

neroden@gmail said...

". It seems as if it's not even theoretically possible for that moment to arrive, unless and until Republicans literally start a war with real bullets. And yes, that could happen someday. "

Probably within the next couple of years, if I were to guess wildly. Remember, the modern "Republicans" ARE the Confederacy. All we need is a genuine, elected government with a little bit of spine and the "Republicans" will use it as an excuse to fire on Ft. Sumter.