January 30, 2009


This Michael Hirsh piece made me laugh out loud:

Is it possible history is repeating itself? As House Republicans defy President Obama over his stimulus package, the party seems to be reverting to form after decades of overreaching ambition and outsized growth; think of the GOP, perhaps, as the Citigroup of politics. Many Republicans seem resigned—even content—to go back to being the party of Barry Goldwater. In other words: We don't care if we're marginalized. In our hearts we know we're right. Never mind that the party suffered terrible defeats in 2008 and 2006, some thoughtful Republicans (mainly on the Senate side, like Lindsay Graham, as well as intellectuals such as David Frum) have been fretting for some time that the GOP base is getting too narrow. These days, you hear little talk of Karl Rove's bigger tent or reinventing conservatism. Quite the opposite: it seems as though the party has decided to go back to basics. The message they're sending: "We don't care if Obama won or that he's popular; let's just wait until the country sees the truth again, as old Barry did. Until then, we'll be happy to be the righteous minority again, proudly willing to go down in flames for our beliefs: government spending never works, and tax cuts always do. Keynesian stimulus is for liberal witch doctors."

I laughed because it just shows such a gross misunderstanding of what it means to be a conservative or Republican, while stating the obvious as if it were some kind of joke. He writes about my entire worldview as if it's something to mock. As if Republicans are the only ones who stick to their guns in the face of opposition. Didn't Democrats do that for the last eight years and get lauded for it? And now we're the ones who won't roll over and die because a Dem got 52% of the vote?

We're not "resigned" to going back to being the Goldwater party; that's where we want to be! And yes, we are willing to "go down in flames for our beliefs," because we do what we think is right, not what is popular.

Actually, I don't think "right" and "popular" are mutually exclusive, but I can't really test that theory because Republicans keep trying to out-Democrat Democrats by granting them too many premises.

The article continues in laughable fashion:

True, Wednesday's unanimous GOP vote against the $819 billion stimulus package was partly driven by the peculiar politics of the Hill. Some House Republicans wanted to send a "message" to Obama, and they may come around and vote for the final bill after the Senate approves its version. But for many Republicans the vote reaffirmed the old philosophical divide. Never mind that Obama reached out, lunched with GOP leaders on the Hill, and pressed Speaker Nancy Pelosi to drop family planning and National Mall renovation. Not a single House Republican could bring himself or herself to vote with the president on a measure to prevent what could become the most serious recession since the 1930s.

Good heavens, how could the Republicans not side with Obama after he took them to lunch? Value systems and deeply held beliefs be damned; Obama invited us out to lunch! And to the SuperBowl! Let's forget everything we stand for and do whatever he says.

But reaching a new consensus would require a reassessment of basic premises, and it appears, at least for the moment, that there will be very little of that. The emerging Republican consensus suggests that Bush grew so unpopular because he strayed from, rather than stood behind, the old GOP verities by creating a vast national-security state and giant deficits. Hence the Republicans are flocking to a proposal by the House Republican Study Committee calling for no new government spending at all, and nothing but tax cuts instead.

Those bastard Republicans. If they'd just become Democrats, the world would live in peace and life would be flowers and sausages for everyone. But nooooo. They have to go and ruin it for everyone by having principles and values and other such nonsense that keeps us from consensus!

Read that first sentence again: "But reaching a new consensus would require a reassessment of basic premises, and it appears, at least for the moment, that there will be very little of that."

Translation: The last eight years, we held our ground. But now you Republicans, you need to reassess your premises. Because they're wrong.

For eight years, dissent was patriotic. Now it's a big travesty.

The laughable piece ends with this:

A little over a week after Obama's inauguration, "stale" political arguments again rule the day. So much for the post-partisan era.

Obama tried to move beyond politics and make everyone on the planet live in harmony and agree. He's tried for a whole ten days! And you jerkwad Republicans won't put aside your differences and become Democrats. If you did, the world would be perfect. But you won't. Obama tried to be post-partisan, and you Republicans ruined it.

I mean, there are just too many things to fisk here. See something you'd like to pounce on? Feel free...

Posted by Sarah at January 30, 2009 05:42 PM | TrackBack

Hey - I'm still unable to wrap my mind around the fact that the NYT reported the tropical temps in the White House without even seeming to note the hypocrisy involved with the peasants being exhorted that 72 degrees was too warm.

Posted by: airforcewife at January 30, 2009 07:44 PM

"Keynesian stimulus is for liberal witch doctors."

Umm... actually, yes. I'm glad that - if nothing else - Hirsh picked up on that point, LOL ;-) Not that he realizes the gold mine he's sitting on, of course.

Keynesianism, not capitalism, is what's never been successfully demonstrated to grow anything. Or maybe I'm missing something. France, Russia, etc. with their centrally-planned economies are just such POWERHOUSES now, right? ;-) And even China would be even more productive if it weren't throttling every economic, social, and political virtue of its people.

And yes, we are willing to go down in flames for what we believe to be right. That *used* to be a good thing. Something about pledging lives, fortunes, sacred honor... but who knows - it was like, over 200 years ago!

Posted by: kannie at January 30, 2009 07:54 PM

I'd argue that 1)The GOP is much more infatuated with Reagan than Goldwater (there were some major differences, especially in regards to the SoCon side). 2) People are missing the point of the chess game being played. The house Republicans are giving leverage and cover to the Senate Republicans. The few conservatives in the Senate are in a much stronger position to negotiate and should be able to convince both Sen Dems and Obama that in order to create a Joint Resolution for the President to sign some concessions are going to have to be made to get the two bills to jive up. It wasn't about some GOP anti-spending philosophy...Several Republicans in both houses supported expanding SCHIP...it was about setting the stage for getting something out of a winless situation. 3) Hirsh does make a very valid point...simply talking about Tax Cuts and cutting spending isn't going to be enough for the GOP to take control of the conversation. We're going to need bold and radical ideas, based on principle, and right now...well, no one is offering them...

Posted by: David at January 30, 2009 09:59 PM

Hirsh is a people person in the most appalling way. He does not believe in principles, Leftist or otherwise. He believes in "consensus," in going with the crowd. His universe is defined by peOple. He thinks having lunch with peOple should be sufficient to make Republicans give up their silly notions. He cannot understand men who do not see everything through a social lens - who still look up to ideals shining above the murky fog of fashion. Ayn Rand described his ilk in For the New Intellectual:

[Pragmatists] declared that philosophy must be practical and that practicality consists of dispensing with all absolute principles and standards - that there is no such thing as objective reality or permanent truth - that truth is that which works, and its validity can be judged only by its consequences — that no facts can be known with certainty in advance, and anything may be tried by rule-of-thumb — that reality is not firm, but fluid and "indeterminate" ...

... and determined by people, specifically the right kind of people - the peOple with a capital O.

But reality is not a democracy.

Posted by: Amritas at January 30, 2009 10:14 PM