Perhaps the most fascinating political conundrum of the 2010 election is one faced by GOP senators, almost all of whom voted for TARP and supported some of the other bailouts in the thick of the financial crisis. The good news is that, for all their shortcomings, the bailouts did the trick, preventing a deeper economic crisis. The bad news is those bailouts are now considered political poison by the tea partying conservative base.
That puts Republicans in a strange position: unable to say the legislation failed, but at pains to distance themselves from their vote nonetheless. Over the past couple days, I’ve asked a number of GOP senators whether, nearly two years later, they think the bailout bill was effective. Their answers were revealing.
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), who’s retiring at the end of the year and is therefore unencumbered by the need to defend himself from the GOP base, has nothing to run away from.
“It was extremely effective,” Gregg told me. “Not only was it effective and stabilized the financial industry, it also returned to the taxpayers almost $20 billion in interest and dividends that they would have otherwise not have.”
In response to a question about gay marriage, she said, “There are a lot of people who have trouble coming to terms with that because they see marriage as traditionally between a man and a woman. But I also know that, you know, when couples are committed to each other and love each other, that they ought to have, I think, the same sort of rights that everyone has.”
Mrs. Bush said she and the ex-president “disagree” on legalizing same-sex marriage.
“I understand totally what George thinks and what other people think about marriage being between a man and a woman. And it’s a real, you know, reversal really for [them] to accept gay marriage,” she said.
When King asked if she could accept gay marriage, the first lady said: “I think we could, yeah.” “You think [legalization of same-sex marriage] is coming?” asked King.
The Right wing media and the Tea Parties are playing chess while the Left and the mainstream media are playing checkers.
While they can be disparaged as being narrow minded ideologues possessed of an authoritarian personality, Conservatives in the U.S.–and the extreme Right wing that has now become the center of the GOP–have long been masters of using emotional and moral appeals to motivate their public. While the Democrats are hamstrung by an issues based approach to politics, Conservatives have mastered the art of creating an alternate world of political facts and reason (enabled by the Right wing media echo chamber) where the reality based community need not tread.
This week the note being struck is that liberal infiltrators (in the guise of “agent provocateurs”) are targeting the Tea Parties in order to smear and discredit them. Without any factual substantiation (and ignoring the racist, bigoted, and violent rhetoric that is common at the Tea Party gatherings) the Right has succeeded in reframing the narrative which surrounds the tea baggers. Now, freed from any responsibility for their own actions, the Tea Parties can point to some imagined villain as being responsible for all things disruptive and violent at their protests. [Read the rest from Chauncey DeVega via OpenSalon]
These people gotta lotta gall, in my opinion. I can see why it is important that some dude harasses a racist at a rally, don’t get me wrong, but let’s also keep in mind that there’s something to be said for attracting that type of element in the first place. The Nazis don’t feel comfortable just strolling down the street in most places — and frankly, this dude with the camera seems to be the only person who cares. Get serious, ninjas. Oh… and PLEASE!
At a Tea Party rally in Greenville, S.C., last week, a speaker tried to figure out just what, exactly, is wrong with Graham. “Barney Frank has been more honest and brave than you. At least we know about Barney Frank, nobodyâ€™s going to hold it over his head.”
He continued, “Look, Iâ€™m a tolerant person. I donâ€™t care about your private life, Lindsey. But as our U.S. senator, I need to figure out why youâ€™re trying to sell out your own countrymen, I need to make sure you being gay isnâ€™t it.”
This is the language of a political movement that sees itself defending a peculiar, limited version of democratic politics. Academics have a term for this idea: herrenvolk democracy. The basic idea is that there is supposed to be equality, and even unanimity on crucial matters, among qualified citizens. And if someone breaks the consensus, it’s not so much a sign that there needs to be an argument about this or that issue. It just casts doubt on whether that person was a legitimate member of the group in the first place. (Note that Graham himself has criticized the use of “racial epithets” on the right.) [Read the whole story from Salon.com]