The Donkey Is Sleeping Today

Rove Demagogues The Stimulus – A Teaching Moment For Democrats

In 2010 Midterm Elections, Message/Framing, Politics on July 19, 2010 at 1:23 am

Sam Stein at The Huffington Post published a story yesterday about a TV ad attacking Harry Reid that was produced by a new conservative group called American Crossroads. At first glance, one might think, “wow, did the sun rise in the east again”? But this ad has the audacity to criticize Reid for NOT BRINGING ENOUGH stimulus money back home to Nevada.

Now here’s what the inside-the-beltway Democratic establishment is probably thinking when they see this ad. Weren’t the Republicans screaming like stuck pigs that the stimulus was wasteful spending? Didn’t they say it would do nothing to help rescue the troubled economy? Didn’t they then race to photo-ops like Kim Kardashian to a football player whenever there was a groundbreaking event due to stimulus spending in their district?

Yes, yes, and yes, but that’s not the point.

So they comfort themselves by looking at the person behind the ad. It’s none other than Mr. Karl “Attack Their Strengths And Turn Them Into A Weakness” Rove. They say: remember the 2004 presidential election? We Dems thought John Kerry was bulletproof on Iraq and on matters of national security. After all, he was a decorated war hero, and they lied about his record. They’ll remind everyone that Karl Rove and his cronies are unethical assholes and are not to be trusted.

True. But that’s also not the point.

An asshole, but that's not the point.

Then they’ll look at the cookie-cutter attack ad and point out that the sources cited in the spot are a year-and-a-half old and rely on conjecture rather than solid data, which refutes the “fact” that Nevada ranks 50th in stimulus funding (13 states have received less).

Nope, still not the point.

There’s a much bigger take-away from this ad, but for the most part, Democrats in Washington are too stupid or too afraid to see it. Simply put, the Republicans will talk out of both sides of their mouths on the same issue and criticize Democrats NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO.

In terms of the stimulus, most every notable progressive economist, from Paul Krugman to Dean Baker, James Galbraith, Eileen Appelbaum and Norielle Roubini, warned that the stimulus package was too small, but the Administration powered ahead with its bipartisan fetish to capture three Senate Republican votes, watering down the bill in the process.

And what happened? The progressive economists that Geithner and Summers shunned were right: the stimulus wasn’t big enough. Joe Biden even admitted it on national television this weekend (again Sam Stein at The Huffington Post). That’s kind of a big fucking deal, because in the process, Biden blamed the Republicans for the size of the stimulus, saying that’s all they would allow. But the reality is the Dems had the political wind at their backs and pissed away a golden opportunity in the name of bipartisanship. Whining about it now just makes Democrats look weak and ineffectual, owing to the fact that they had 59 freakin’ Senators in the caucus at the time (still do).

Certainly, the stimulus helped stem the economic bleeding, blunted unemployment and prevented an even worse recession/depression, but we aren’t out of the economic woods by a long shot, mostly because the stimulus money is running out and we’re still staring down the barrel of double-digit unemployment.

And now the Republicans are screaming that the stimulus was a giant mistake and that Obama’s policies (and by extension ALL Democratic policies) are failures. Unfortunately, voters are receptive to these lies because they are still feeling the effects of the economic downturn and are afraid it won’t improve any time soon. Emotions trump facts every time, especially when it comes to a voter’s pocketbook or sense of security.

So then what’s the point?

  1. Republicans do not want to extend a hand of bipartisanship across the aisle. They want to ball up their fist and punch Democrats in the face. It’s all about the will to power with them. So stop trying to appease conservatives to attract one or two Republican votes, which you more than likely won’t get anyway.
  2. No matter what you do, the Republicans will ALWAYS criticize you, so if you’re going to go down, then at least go down swinging. Stop pushing half-measures (stimulus, health care, and financial reform spring to mind) and pass the strongest progressive legislation you can because it’s better for America and for your electoral chances.

At least that way you’re seen as principled and don’t have to go on the teevee, wring your hands, and think to yourself “woulda, coulda, shoulda.”

Are you listening Democrats?

-SF

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