The Reagan of Wingnut Fever Dreams.
Jeb Bush screws up and tells the truth, so get ready for the “gaffe” narrative, which should be launching any time now.
Last week… the former Florida governor praised President Obama on education policy, hot on the heels of Romney delivering a speech condemning Obama’s education policy. Bush also said his party is being “short-sighted” on tax and immigration policies, which is not what the GOP mainstream wants to hear.
This morning, Jeb Bush went further, endorsing Obama’s line about economic “headwinds” from Europe, and agreeing with Obama’s recent argument that both Ronald Reagan and his father George H. W. Bush would have a hard time getting nominated by today’s Republican Party.
“Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad — they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party — and I don’t — as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground,” Bush said, adding that he views the hyper-partisan moment as “temporary.”
“Back to my dad’s time and Ronald Reagan’s time — they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support,” he said. Reagan “would be criticized for doing the things that he did.”
“It’s a stretch to suggest that Jeb Bush is somehow becoming more moderate, or even sensible,” Benen writes. “This morning, he also praised Paul Ryan’s radical budget plan, for example, and blamed Obama for Washington dysfunction, condemning the president for pursuing ‘partisan’ policies in his first year, rather than ‘common ground.’ (In his first year, Obama pushed Mitt Romney’s health care plan, John McCain’s climate plan, and a stimulus with massive tax breaks. Partisan? Please.)”
He then goes on to recite the litany of sins against conservative doctrine that Reagan was guilty of, familiar to everyone except those who say they love him most, apparently:
Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times, and he supported the precursor to the Buffett Rule. In his first term, Reagan raised taxes when unemployment was nearing 11% — imagine trying this today — and proceeded to raise taxes seven out of the eight years he was in office. It’s a fact the right finds terribly inconvenient, but “no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people” as Reagan.
I’m no fan of Ronald Reagan and Benen manages to comment on all this without falling into the trap of Reagan praise so many lefty writers fall into when they compare the late president to today’s GOP. Ronald Reagan was not a wonderful president and his positions weren’t beautiful and perfect. He just sucked less than the Republicans of today. Likewise, Jeb Bush is not a great lefty now and no one should sing his praises either.
But it does demonstrate just how little use today’s right has for facts. They’ve taken Reagan and reduced him to Colonel Sanders — not a man, a logo. And, as such, Reagan becomes more symbolic than historic and can be made to stand for anything you want. He’s not a man anymore, he’s an advertising slogan — because the real man would’ve be kicked out of the GOP as a RINO had he held office today.
That’s how far the Republican Party has dragged the debate to the right. Seen as something of a Goldwater-type extremist in his own day, Reagan would count as a centrist today. And as a centrist, he would never be considered “pure” enough for the Republican Party.
Cantor and press secretary struggle with reality’s liberal bias.
Stahl: Given his upbringing and his marriage, Cantor says he’s nothing like the intractable obstructionist the Democrats say he is.
Cantor: Nobody gets everything they want. And so—
Stahl: That’s just exactly your image: that you want only what you want.
Cantor: But it’s just I hope I’m not coming across like that now, because it’s just not who I am. I mean, it really is—
Stahl: So are you ready to compromise?
Cantor: So I have always been ready to cooperate. I mean, if you go back to the first—
Stahl: What’s the difference between compromise and cooperate?
Cantor: Well, I would say cooperate is let’s look to where we can move things forward where we agree. Comprising principles, you don’t want to ask anybody to do that. That’s who they are as their core being.
Stahl: But you know, your idol, as I’ve read anyway, was Ronald Reagan. And he compromised.
Cantor: He never compromised his principles.
Stahl: Well, he raised taxes and it was one of his principles not to raise taxes.
Cantor: Well, he— he also cut taxes.
Stahl: But he did compromise—
Cantor: Well I —
[Press Secretary: That just isn’t true. And I don’t want to let that stand.]
Stahl: And at that point, Cantor’s press secretary interrupted, yelling from off camera that what I was saying wasn’t true.
[Reagan: My fellow Americans…]
Stahl: There seemed to be some difficulty accepting the fact that even though Ronald Reagan cut taxes, he also pushed through several tax increases, including one in 1982 during a recession.
[Reagan: Make no mistake about it, this whole package is a compromise.]
Cantor: We as Republicans are not going to support tax increases.
Stahl: So, we’ve seen the two sides of Eric Cantor: the push and pull between his hard fighting style on legislation that appeals to his party’s conservative wing and his warm, Southern gentleman demeanor.
I think what’s happening here is that these guys have a habit of confusing the real Ronald Reagan and the Colonel-Sanders-like Reagan-as-mascot cartoon they’ve made out of him. See, when most people take about Reagan, they’re talking about the real one. But when Republicans talk about Reagan, they’re talking about the Kentucky Fried version.
And that’s why reality has a liberal bias; Republicans refuse to set foot in it, so liberals have it all to themselves.
News Roundup for 10/13/11
History’s greatest president (and two Hollywood actors)
-Headline of the Day-
“Rep. Bachmann Hits Cain On Taxes: ‘I Want To Adopt The Reagan Tax Plan.’”
Shelly Bachmann must’ve heard that Herman Cain got his economic plan from a video game, because she’s totally against it. She has a better plan, she says, from one of the “great economists that I admire, Ronald Reagan.” Note to Shelly: Reagan was an actor in monkey movies, not an economist. But close enough, right?
Anyway, here’s her plan; take the current tax rates and raise them (Reagan’s rates were higher than they are today), then freak out over the huge deficits these tax rates create and raise them again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. Make sure that at least one of these tax hikes is called “the biggest tax increase ever enacted during peacetime.”
Then enjoy a new golden age as your economy suffers through a recession and the president’s approval rating hits 35%. To make it all extra-Reagany, throw in a massive market crash so severe that will forever be remembered as “Black Monday.” Obviously, you’re going to want to schedule that one for an actual Monday.
You know, looking at this, it seems like less of an economic plan and more of a way for a sad and forgotten former-frontrunner to drop Reagan’s name at every opportunity. (Media Matters, with video)
-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, have you heard about the 99-percenters and this Occupy Everystreet business? Well, it turns out they’ve found a spokesperson!
Click for animation
Freakin’ hippie FDR! Go back to San Francisco and smoke pot, you commie! (MarkFiore.com)
“John McCain’s ideas will save billions and billions of jobs.”
That’s literally what McCain argues, that eliminating regulations would increase employment, because they’re currently “costing businesses billions and billions of jobs.”
I think Mr. Cranky needs a nap. (Plum Line)
News Roundup for 8/4/11
History’s greatest educator
-Headline of the Day-
“How Bush Killed Bin Laden: What’s Really In Huckabee’s 9/11 Cartoon.”
Mike Huckabee is a man who thinks of the children. And so it only makes sense that he puts out cartoons that help the little tykes understand history. In one video, kids learn how Ronald Reagan saved America from black thugs in t-shirts that said “DISCO” on them and Franklin D. Roosevelt wasn’t around to fight WWII. You know, real accurate stuff.
And so it is with 9/11 and terrorism. In case you’ve forgotten, the story goes like this: a bunch of Muslims attacked America, because they hate our freedom and because they were Muslims. Then George W. Bush yelled at them with a bullhorn and gave birth to the PATRIOT Act atop the pile of rubble. Liberals, of course, hated the whole idea because they like terrorists and don’t like to make people mad, so they just wanted to forget 9/11 ever happened.
But not George W. Bush! He did a bunch of intelligence stuff and some stuff happened for a while that no one really needs to know all that much about and then, lo and behold, Osama bin Laden was dead! Yay for Bush!
Thank God we have Mike Huckabee to set the record straight. (Talking Points Memo)
-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, with all the fightin’ and feudin’ and fussin’, wouldn’t a little “bipartisanship” be nice? Well, we’re going to find out how bipartisanship in Washington works Yay!
Click for animation
Remember, bipartisanship means never having to say you’re sorry for breaking someone’s kneecaps with tire iron. (MarkFiore.com)
“Obama Turns 50 Despite Republican Opposition.”
Onion headlines are often amazingly accurate. (The Onion)
You Can’t Fight Crazy — But You Can Vote it Out of Office
I hate to say it, but part of me — the “I told you so” portion of my brain — wants the Republican Party to remain stupid, for the president to fail to convince them to come off the ledge, and for the US to default. This part of my brain feels that if we go over that cliff, Republicans (and the craziest Tea Party nuts especially) will have been proven wrong once and for all. After all the Tea Party, always more than happy to believe whatever horsecrap makes them more comfortable, is home to the idea of the default myth — i.e., that if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, the US won’t default and anyone who says otherwise is just a commie spendthrift trying to scare you. My lizard brain thinks that when interest rates skyrocket, deficits get even worse, and unemployment goes through the roof, then they’ll see…
But, of course, a more rational part of me knows that this is a fruitless hope. After all, didn’t I just say that they believe whatever they want to believe? You can’t convince them with proof. They’ll just come up with some crazy argument that the US didn’t default, that the administration held back its secret hoard of money to punish Republicans at the polls. When you’re dealing with people who engage in magical thinking, “proof” is a meaningless word.
Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like the “I told you so” portion of my brain may get some satisfaction. As the August 2 deadline approaches, there are few signs that the nuts are becoming saner and that reality will finally sink in. And while that may not happen to the looniest Republicans, it’s happening to their traditional backers and enablers.
There aren’t many positive aspects to the looming possibility of a U.S. debt default. But there has been, I have to admit, an element of comic relief — of the black-humor variety — in the spectacle of so many people who have been in denial suddenly waking up and smelling the crazy.
A number of commentators seem shocked at how unreasonable Republicans are being. “Has the G.O.P. gone insane?” they ask.
Why, yes, it has. But this isn’t something that just happened, it’s the culmination of a process that has been going on for decades. Anyone surprised by the extremism and irresponsibility now on display either hasn’t been paying attention, or has been deliberately turning a blind eye.
I’m guessing it’s the latter. Although it’s only really come to a head relatively recently. It was the McCain/Palin rallies, with their cries of “terrorist” and “kill him,” that lead to the town hall mobs. It was the town hall mobs that led to the Tea Party. And it was the Tea Party that led to a largely fact-free debate on jobs, the deficit, and the economy. And before all that, there was conservative talk radio, miseducating a generation with lies and distortions and propaganda. Rush Limbaugh’s audience has finally been elected to congress and the result is a impending crisis that they refuse to acknowledge even exists.
And the reason they refuse to believe the eminently believable is because they are, at base, cowards and spoiled children. Unable to face the harsh and frightening facts of the real world, they threaten to hold their breath until they get their pony. They don’t like the facts, so they demand the facts change to suit them. The fact that Reagan’s vision of a glorious supply-side economy is turning out to be a complete failure most definitely does not suit them. So wishful thinking passes for reasoning and baseless opinion becomes fact.
At this point, the best we can hope for is that voters wake up to what useless, bratty jerks the Republican Party has become and vote them out of office when the next election cycle rolls around — if not before then.
Republican Group Exists to Institute Corporate Rule
There’s a great piece up at the Center for Media and Democracy about the work of ALEC or American Legislative Exchange Council. The group has been working at the state level to fundamentally change America, state by state. If there’s an unpopular governor passing unpopular laws through an unpopular state legislature, ALEC is behind them. Voter ID laws, union-busting laws, laws shifting the tax burden away from the wealthy to the poor and middle class, cuts in state services, etc. — all can be traced back to ALEC.
In fact, many of these bills have the same language from state to state. Since ALEC describe themselves as the largest “membership association of state legislators,” it would seem that these state officials were writing these bills with the help of legislators for other states. This would go a long way toward explaining why so many of their bills look cut-and-paste. But closer scrutinity proves this assumption wrong.
In April 2011, some of the biggest corporations in the U.S. met behind closed doors in Cincinnati about their wish lists for changing state laws. This exchange was part of a series of corporate meetings nurtured and fueled by the Koch Industries family fortune and other corporate funding.
At an extravagant hotel gilded just before the Great Depression, corporate executives from the tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds, State Farm Insurance, and other corporations were joined by their “task force” co-chairs — all Republican state legislators — to approve “model” legislation. They jointly head task forces of what is called the “American Legislative Exchange Council” (ALEC).
There, as the Center for Media and Democracy has learned, these corporate-politician committees secretly voted on bills to rewrite numerous state laws. According to the documents we have posted to ALEC Exposed, corporations vote as equals with elected politicians on these bills. These task forces target legal rules that reach into almost every area of American life: worker and consumer rights, education, the rights of Americans injured or killed by corporations, taxes, health care, immigration, and the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink.
“It is a worrisome marriage of corporations and politicians, which seems to normalize a kind of corruption of the legislative process — of the democratic process—in a nation of free people where the government is supposed to be of, by, and for the people, not the corporations,” writes Center for Media and Democracy Executive Director Lisa Graves.
As always when dealing with the backroom workings of the Republican Party, there is also hypocrisy here. “Unelected” is a standard GOP buzzword; we have to worry about unelected judges “legislating from the bench,” about unelected bureaucrats making our healthcare decisions, about unelected regulators hampering businesses — and here they are, letting unelected corporate lobbyists write law.
But it goes deeper, gets more disturbing, than that. In an unrelated piece about the Washington standoff over the debt limit, political analyst Stuart Rothenberg explains where the sticking point lies:
Most recently elected House Republicans believe that government can’t and shouldn’t do all it has done. Cutting spending is merely the means to cutting government, as Ronald Reagan understood.
Yes, Republicans complained about the costs associated with the Democrats’ health care bill, with the 2009 economic stimulus and with the Democrats’ cap-and-trade proposal, but that’s not the real reason why they opposed those initiatives.
They don’t believe that government should involve itself in the market that directly, or in picking winners and losers. They regard the health care bill’s individual mandate as excessive government intervention into individual rights. And they don’t trust bureaucrats or government officials to decide what’s good for people.
Apparently, the logical conclusion this line of reasoning leads to is that corporations get “to decide what’s good for people.” The same people who told you smoking was good for you, that asbestos was fine, that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was completely under control. Those are the people who get to decide what’s best for you — not the people you elected for that job.
It’s the obvious solution to the Republican logical equation; if A=B and B=C, then A=C. That is, if government is bad and that government is a democracy, then democracy is bad.
A sham democracy it is, then.