Monday, October 11, 2021


In a naive column about how President Biden can regain his footing, E.J. Dionne writes:
Harry Truman-style, Biden should press Republicans about what benefits they propose to deny to Americans who need them. Do they want less child care? Less health coverage? More expensive drugs? No tax breaks under the child tax credit? And do recalcitrant Republican governors want an unending pandemic?
I think, in all cases, Republican officeholders would answer: Sure, why not? Yes, polls show that Republican voters want what's in Biden's bills almost as much as Democrats and independents do -- but we also know that Republican voters respond extremely well to the notion that government assistance should go only to the "deserving."

And on the question of whether Republican officeholders "want an unending pandemic," I'd say that many of the ones who want to run for president in 2024 certainly do. I don't think this is because they want to kill people exactly (although, again, there's a widespread belief on the right that COVID kills only those who "deserve" to die -- the elderly, the sick, the overweight). I think, for Republican governors, the pandemic is like a war. Remember, George H.W. Bush went to war with Iraq at the peak of his popularity, accomplished the goals he set out to accomplish, declared victory, and brought the troops home. The following year, he lost his reelection bid. His son also went to war with Iraq and got stuck in a quagmire. He got to run for reelction as a "war president" who was "keeping America safe." He won reelection, and is the only Republican presidential candidate to win the popular vote since 1988.

You'd have to be a sick person to want to prolong suffering just for political gain -- but we're talking about Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, and Kristi Noem, so why not? We should remember that their ongoing battle, as long as there's a pandemic, isn't with the virus -- it's with us. As long as they're fighting us over vaccines and masks, the contributions will be pouring in. When the pandemic is over, they'll need to find something else to open contributors' wallets. (I don't believe it's a coincidence that Republicans began to go all in on the Critical Race Theory hysteria just when it seemed as if vaccination was about to end the pandemic.)

No, E.J., you can't appeal to their better natures, and you can't shame them. You just have to roll right over them. And as long as there's a filibuster, Democrats simply can't do that.

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