Friday, October 28, 2016


The odd sound you just heard was the corpse of David Broder issuing a sepulchral groan of pleasure after reading this godawful opinion piece by Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post:
Democrats should stop dancing on the GOP’s grave

Stop celebrating, Democrats.

Yes, it looks likely that your party will soon have control of the White House and Senate and, at the very least, win the popular vote in House elections, if not actually a majority of House seats.

And, yes, it looks as if the Republican Party is paralyzed with dysfunction, trapped in a civil war about the fundamental mission, values and tone of the party. The GOP base is drifting further and further into crazyland, thanks to its many influential conspiracy theorists and witch-hunters wielding microphones and muskets.

Moreover, it looks like core pillars of the Republican platform -- such as commitments to free trade, civil liberties, deregulation, entitlement reform, family values -- have crumbled. And sure, it appears there are no longer any conservative principles uniting the party. And agreed, in the absence of any unifying principles or policies or general political philosophy, Republicans seem to have lost all interest in governing.

The schadenfreude must seem irresistible, Democrats. But resist you must.
I guess there are some Democrats who fit Rampell's stereotype -- who think the GOP is about to be crushed into dust, and who are thrilled at the prospect. I suppose I'd be delighted -- if I thought it was going to happen. But Republicans will almost certainly hold the House (and I'm more furious than happy when I learn that, once again, this might happen even if more voters overall choose Democratic House candidates). Republicans may also hold the Senate, and, of course, some polls show the presidential race tightening.

But even if Democrats score a big victory, who seriously believes Republicans are "paralyzed with dysfunction"? They're fighting one another now, but as soon as the election is over, they're going to go back to their usual scorched-earth campaign against Democratic governance. And we're supposed to be happy that "the GOP base is drifting further and further into crazyland"? Catherine, those people have guns.

And it's not true that there's an "absence of any unifying principles" in the GOP. The party's unifying principles are what they've been for most of my adult life: (1) deregulation and tax cuts for the rich cure all ills -- yes, Donald Trump believes this too -- and (2) Democrats are the Antichrist. Beyond that, their faith in some of the other values is unchanged: Yes, they believe in "family values," but for us, not for themselves. (No same-sex marriage or transgender bathroom rights for us, but they get to vote David Vitter and Mark Sanford back into office.)

And when did Republicans ever value civil liberties?

Rampell tells us this:
The end of a principled, intellectually coherent, organizationally robust center-right party is bad for democracy.
In isolation, that's not really objectionable. Reasonable people have said the same thing. (I don't know how the GOP had managed to gull so many people into parroting the talking point that it's a "center-right party." But that's a side issue.)

Rampell follows that with this:
It’s also bad for Democrats, given some of the dumb ideas flourishing on the left that desperately need a thoughtful counterweight....

Right now a number of bad ideas booming on the left need a credible, coherent, megaphoned rebuttal. These are ideas that may sound nice and perhaps appear helpful. But pursuing many of them would be, at best, irrelevant and ineffective, a waste of time and resources; at worst, they would be actively harmful to the marginalized groups that bleeding-heart liberals claim to champion.
The "sound nice" link goes to a column about closing the gender wage gap. Yeah, doing that would be terrible!

David Dayen runs through a few of Rampell's "harmful" Democratic policy proposals:

In that last tweet, Dayen is referring to this passage from Rampell's column:
Or arbitrary tax carve-outs for items such as tampons (which constitute a giveaway to rich people, too, and ultimately require raising tax rates on everything else, which can disproportionately hurt poor people).
Yes, the tampon tax is so massive that its elimination would drive a statistically significant percentage of America's struggling families into deep poverty and homelessness. (That was sarcasm.) By the way, this may be a liberal idea, but I challenge Rampell to run it by women anywhere in America -- even a Trump rally. I strongly suspect there'd be massive support for it.

Rampell laments the lack of a counterweight to a rampaging Democratic Party on fire with horrific liberal ideas -- even though she acknowledges that the GOP is well positioned to obstruct everything the Democrats propose:
Already, multiple Republican senators have expressed a willingness to leave a Supreme Court seat vacant indefinitely. And already, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who heads the House Oversight Committee, has declared his intention to spend “years” investigating a President Hillary Clinton (something the Republican-led Congress has expended plenty of time, and taxpayer money, on already).

As Yale University political scientist Jacob Hacker put it recently: With no coherent vision or values, the GOP could well turn into a “zombie party for the next few years,” united only by the mantra “eat brains, eat Hillary brains.”
So this horrific liberal agenda can't even be enacted, but Democrats are bad just for thinking about it. Just conceiving of a liberal agenda is as bad for Democrats as putting in place a genuinely terrible agenda was for Republicans:
Kansas has provided a useful illustration of what happens when (in this case, conservative) ideologues get their policy wish lists, because they’ve written off any objections from skeptics as unserious or motivated by ill intent. With the Republican Party’s wholesale intellectual implosion, we may see the same temptations take hold on the left.
No, we won't, for three reasons: Democrats are willing to compromise on most issues (even when no Republican will compromise back); Democratic ideas are not remotely as awful as Republican issues; and Republicans will block most of the Democratic agenda anyway, because their intransigence doesn't require intellectual underpinnings.

But hey, Catherine, good career move. In the political mainstream, it's never too early to call out the presumptuousness of incoming Democrats who have the gall to try to implement a Democratic agenda.


duquesne_pdx said...

"Kansas has provided a useful illustration of what happens when (in this case, conservative) ideologues get their policy wish lists... "

And California has provided a useful illustration of what happens when (in this case, liberal) ideologues get their policy wish lists.

Both sides!

Victor said...

No worries about the GOP.

After Election Day, they will disband their circular firing-squad, and line-up to aim every weapon they can find at Hillary and the Democrats.

Conservatives live, LIVE, for taking things away from the "wrong kind of people," or keep them from getting something in the first place.

THAT is the core unifying priciple of conservatism.

Feud Turgidson said...

The incoming president ought to create a new cabinet position - Secretary of My Damn Emails.

Unknown said...

Does anyone know a bully who stopped picking on people because they were asked to? No. Me neither.
You stop a bully by sticking up to them. Most are cowards at heart and a push back or threat of it was what deters them.
"Please don't hit me or pick on me anymore." rarely works. They have nothing to lose. Weaknesses empowers the bullies. If you hit me, I'll hit you back is the only thing that I've seen work.
So we should expect less from the Republicans than to go after Clinton? Why should they? Where's the downside?
"The please don't hit me anymore" is the only approach the Democratics have used.
What price have the Republicans ever paid for their actions? None!
When Bush left office in a landslide defeat for republicans, the Democratics had the chance.
But who paid the price for all the shit the Bush Administration did? Some really bad shit! Nobody.
No fear of repercussions for actions, leaves little reason to change behavior.
Turn the other cheek is not a good political approach when dealing with Republicans.
It just gets you slapped silly!
So surprise! Clinton will face years of hearing and impeachment threats. Never even given a chance.
Maybe "please don't hit me anymore" will work this time.
But I'd sure like to try the hit me and I'll hit you back. Bullies get that.

Jimbo said...

Wow, I thought Catherine Rampell was going to be a relief from the mostly dreary right wing WaPo Op/Ed page. This opinion piece is so stupid. The GOP has spent 40+ years claiming to be the "party of ideas" while pasting up the same tax cuts for the rich, deregulate everything, etc. nostrums that have demonstrably, empirically shown to be bullshit. Meanwhile, Catherine takes apart the Democratic platform, which, as you note, has been shown to a) work and b) be designed to be cost-effective. But this is unrealistic, she says! I don't think that's how Reagan's people were thinking on election night in 1980. Can we get at least one Progressive visionary on the WaPO Op/Ed page?

Soccer Dad said...

if you actually bother to read why Rampell thinks the tampon tax is a bad idea, you see that she makes sense

re Glass Steagall, I don't actually know anything about it
I do know that most of the bad mortgage loans were originated with non banking mortgage companies, which would probably not have been covered under GS
I also think, GS is a law passed in the 1930s to deal with problems in the *1920s* banking system
a century later, you may have noticed, the banking industry has changed
not sure that GS is our most pressing priority, a law nearly a century old
just sayin

Cirze said...

You've been trolled!

Almost sad to see what the RW think is serious thinking/calculating.

Hilarious really that these people will be running the world soon.

Thanks, Diebold!