Friday, September 21, 2012

Republicans just aren't as smart as we thought they were

I'm guessing there must have been some kind of ethos in the air while I was growing up in the 60's and 70's that said that the Republicans were the party of smart, thoughtful, disciplined people from the skilled managerial class. On the other hand, Democrats were emotional, passionate, undisciplined working and/or creative class folks.

My oh my...how things have changed.

In the intervening years, Democrats elected Jimmy Carter - who was seen to be too smart/serious - and then Bill Clinton - who was too undisciplined. But now we have the whole enchilada in President Obama and the Republicans have swung to being the party of the emotionally undisciplined.

If you had any doubts about that, read what Steve Benen just wrote about their bumbling attempts to try to define President Obama.
At different times over the last four years, Obama's detractors have said he's a ruthless Chicago thug and a "wuss." He's a bystander who goes golfing too much and an activist president who engages too much. He's sticking to the Bush/Cheney script on national security and he's putting us at risk by abandoning the Bush/Cheney national security agenda. He's cutting cherished entitlement programs like Medicare and he refuses to cut entitlement programs like Medicare. He's too mean to Wall Street and he's too nice to Wall Street.

The Obama campaign tends to stick to specific themes, incorporating new information into the message matrix aides drew up a year ago, reinforcing larger arguments. The Romney campaign tends to act like small children playing soccer, running wildly to wherever they see a bouncing ball, whether it's strategically wise or not.
This is NOT a party that has thought through anything strategically or one that is sticking to any kind of plan. They're captured by a base that is fueled by anger/fear and they're simply throwing out anything/everything in an effort to see if something sticks.

The problem is that when I hear some liberals talk these days about Republicans, they seem to still be clinging to a fear that there is some master plan on the part of the plutocrats in this country that we should fear. Sometimes it borders on the the level of conspiracy theories but mostly it just allows for way too much deference to the idea that Republicans know what they're doing.

Its time we put that old idea about Republicans having the upper hand to rest. Their ideas were shown to be disastrous for the country both at home and abroad during the Bush/Cheney years. Now we see that they're just as ill-equiped to run a national campaign as they showed themselves to be in running the country.

The Democrats are the party of grown-ups these days. We need to own that and show them how its done.  

12 comments:

  1. There are smart Republicans. It's just that most of them figured out over a year ago that (1) beating Obama was going to be a lot harder than the Romneyites were assuming and (2) they could make a lot more money sucking at the SuperPAC teat.

    Karl Rove has avoided being associated with any candidate this cycle because he figured out that most of them were idiots (especially when they voted down his effort to push through immigration reform) and that he could make a lot more money sucking up to people like Addelson without having to suffer the stress of a political campaign.

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    1. I totally agree that there are smart Republicans. My point is that - as a party - they're not acting smart and really don't have a plan/strategy at this point...and that includes Mr. Rove.

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    2. Rove wants to remain relevant and at the same time not tie himself too closely to a loser.

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    3. Bill, I think you're right about Rove.

      But that's what someone does who is being reactive not pro-active.

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    4. Right--it ends up making him a loser anyway. The thing is that their market is shrinking and their brand is tainted. That's a bad environment for careerists.

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  2. It took me a long time among other things to really feel the misogyny in the "GOP is the Daddy party, Democrats are the Mommy party" line. It's a really sick way to read politics.

    It's interesting how something so non-political, like a technical understanding of how politics works, has such huge political ramifications. It's amazingly gratifying to see Democrats actually doing things well, and this technical competence will be one of Obama's great contributions to politics for at least a generation.

    I don't know precisely why the GOP has so thoroughly lost its talent. Maybe because its party line--rich people gorging at others' expense--is so contrary to its rhetorical line that anyone who values intellectual coherence is at minimum a little shamed if not repelled. I don't think Romney's the problem, but rather the symptom. The GOP developed a system where it would choose a candidate nobody liked--I actually am of the opinion that Ann Romney doesn't like Mitt either--out of a sense of obligation. The Bushes weren't great candidates either, even though both won when they faced weak opposition. Who knows? Maybe the demographic changes are such that, given that the Southern Strategy has been the GOP's only strategy, the more perceptive rats are deserting the sinking ship first.

    It really seems (not my original observation) that all along the Romney campaign's strategy was to use Citizen's United to buy the election. It's sort of shocking. CU needs to go, but anyone with any sense of things knows that money is not the sole determinant of an election. Yet one problem the very rich have is that many of them, possibly most, really think that money is they only thing that makes the world go round. It's a huge miscalculation. Money can skew our elections and does, but it's not where they can be bought wholesale yet and a lot of things need to change before that eventuality comes to pass.

    I have been focused a lot on retaking the House, but when I think about it the Presidency is key, to reshape the Supreme Court. It's awful at the moment. Obama is likely to win, but this is a must win. My ex and I talked about leaving the country after Bush did his thing (and did, but only temporarily to my chagrin) but I promise you, if Romney wins I will be a permanent expat by 2014. This is because as someone with limited means I cannot see a future I want with voucherized Medicare and privatized Social Security, or even the threat of them. I don't need that worry.

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    1. I think that perhaps the income stratification we're seeing and attempts by the Republicans to solidify that may be robbing the upper class of a meritocracy that elevated those with actual brains and talent.

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    2. The GOP has become the party of George Steinbrenner. If you're rich enough, they thought, they should be able to just buy the Presidency.

      Could the GOP be proving that P.T. Barnum was wrong?

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  3. It was over for the GOP during the inauguration when they decided to make him a one term president. Saying no to everything makes you look like an idiot. They decided they weren't going to govern and win all 3 branches that way. That is an idiot's scheme. What made them believe it would work was 30 years of success and the sorry media. It's safe to say the GOP miscalculated. Their ideas are only popular to their hateful base and that's who they have to cater to. We saw that during the primaries. There was no pivot from that. The idea of pivoting was a media fantasy.

    The GOP's success had more to do with voter turnout and state democratic disorganization than GOP brilliance. Those guys think Reagan was Jesus, Mohammad, and Bhudda wrapped in one. Reagan was an imbecile. "My heart says one thing, but the facts say otherwise." WTF?? Our population is getting browner, more educated, and less selfish than it was in the 80s.

    Vic78

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    1. Mitt Romney seems to be getting browner, too, right along with our population.

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    2. He did say his chances would be better if he were browner.

      Vic78

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  4. I suspect that the use of propaganda is the center of their issues. Propaganda is perhaps more dangerous to the user than to the target. Eventually you believe your own lies, and find yourself waiting for imaginary armies to come rescue you from your bunker...

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