The Tao of Politics

elections, Republican Party

Or, why the GOP presidential candidates are such losers — Paul Krugman writes,

How did American conservatism end up so detached from, indeed at odds with, facts and rationality? …

… My short answer is that the long-running con game of economic conservatives and the wealthy supporters they serve finally went bad. For decades the G.O.P. has won elections by appealing to social and racial divisions, only to turn after each victory to deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy — a process that reached its epitome when George W. Bush won re-election by posing as America’s defender against gay married terrorists, then announced that he had a mandate to privatize Social Security.

Over time, however, this strategy created a base that really believed in all the hokum — and now the party elite has lost control.

You’ll recognize that “appealing to social and racial divisions, only to turn after each victory to deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy” was the subject of Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter With Kansas? And of course cultural/racial warfare was cranked up back when red-baiting was losing its punch. This has been going on for decades. So why are the chickens coming home to roost now?

The complete answer probably is the stuff Ph.D. dissertations are made of. Possibly the single biggest reason is the Faux News factor, or the degree to which the Right has managed to manipulate mass media into delivering its message while freezing out progressive perspectives. A big chunk of the electorate is being “informed” exclusively by Heritage Foundation talking points.

But in the past, the message was still being mostly controlled by the elite, so the masses would all be herded in the same direction. Thanks to Citizens United, however, anybody with a few million bucks to throw around can manipulate public opinion, too!

In 2000, there was no Sheldon Adelson underwriting videos about George W. Bush’s business career, for example. The GOP was able to package and market Bush as a successful business man and governor. Were Dubya running today, I doubt he could get away with that. It’s like a hundred Karl Roves have bloomed.

So, yeah, the GOP field is a pathetic mess. But were other recent presidential candidates any better? Here’s the complete list of candidates for 2000, according to Wikipedia:

George W. Bush, Governor of Texas
John McCain, Senator from Arizona
Alan Keyes, former U.S. ECOSOC Ambassador from Maryland
Steve Forbes, businessman from New Jersey
Gary Bauer, former Undersecretary of Education from Kentucky
Orrin Hatch, Senator from Utah
Elizabeth Dole, former Secretary of Labor from North Carolina
Pat Buchanan, publisher and author from Virginia
Dan Quayle, former Vice President from Indiana
Lamar Alexander, former Governor of Tennessee
Robert C. Smith, Senator from New Hampshire
John Kasich, Representative from Ohio
Herman Cain, CEO of Godfather’s Pizza from Nebraska

There’s a couple of ’em who were possibly not crazy, but that’s about all I can say for them. And Bush was as big a joke as the rest of them, but the GOP elites had tight enough control of the message to package Bush as a respectable candidate.

Jesse Singal wrote,

When Citizens United first came down, there was a lot of sturm und drang about how the GOP would use the new rules to beat up on Obama and Democratic candidates in general. I’m not sure people gave enough thought to how these rules would affect primary races, or to the fact that the first party to really be affected by them would be the GOP, since they actually have to choose a candidate for 2012.

Maybe when this election is over, Republicans will rethink their opposition to election reform.

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  1. Doug Hughes  •  Feb 13, 2012 @12:57 pm

    Rich conservatives think wealth should always trump anything. So even if it destroys them in elections, I doubt they will retreat.

    IMO, the USSC (liberal and conservative justices) are amazed at the monster they have created. They might be the ones to close Pandora’s box.

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 13, 2012 @1:10 pm

    “Maybe when this election is over, Republicans will rethink their opposition to election reform.”
    And pigs will juggle chainsaws on a tightrope while singing aria’s from “La Boheme.”

    If they win this November, there will be no incentive.
    And if they lose, they can then focus on the Democrats in 2014, and whoever the Democratic candidates will be in 2016.
    Adelson, and his ilk, can then spend money flooding the markets with ads against ALL of the Democrats that are running in their primaries; and all of the Republicans except the one he (they) support in their primary – and then run as many ads as he (they) want against whoever the Democratic candidate will be in the 2016 general election.

    Why would Republicans support election reform when the idiots with the most money, and willing to use it for future services rendered, are on THEIR side?

    I love you maha, but you’re more of an optimist than I am.

    I hope you’re feeling better! 🙂

  3. Pat  •  Feb 13, 2012 @4:44 pm

    The internecine squabbling between GOP candidates mirrors the same between their sponsoring super-pacs. How fitting for those trying to divide us to be divided themselves…that their party be consumed with that which they’ve sown among voters. The sour grapes as contenders sink has led to murmurings of campaign reform among some conservative circles. As long as they think they’re on top they’d never dream of it. The best odds for reform would be with a Dem majority and a soundly thrashed GOP opposition still smarting from having been taken to the woodshed.

  4. JR  •  Feb 13, 2012 @8:18 pm

    So why are the chickens coming home to roost now?

    It’s because of the internet. The GOP can now see in real time their republican reps ignoring them once they get their vote. The exchange of information makes it a lot harder for the rightie elites to hide their

  5. Mike G  •  Feb 13, 2012 @8:32 pm

    The “highly principled” right-wing hacks on the Supreme Court will suddenly discover some deep legal principle justifying the repeal of Citizens United, now that their monster is hurting the Repuke Party.

  6. Doug Hughes  •  Feb 13, 2012 @9:29 pm

    Mike G – In January, Montana defied the USSC decision (Citizens United) and the case is under appeal. So there may be an opportunity for the High Court to reconsider. If the conservatives on the USSC can see based on this election cycle that the damage of unlimited money is greater than the anticipated benefit of ‘money equals speech’ than a reversal may happen.

  7. Xecky Gilchrist  •  Feb 13, 2012 @9:50 pm

    Maybe when this election is over, Republicans will rethink their opposition to election reform.

    I don’t remember the details, but I have a vague memory that something like this – though much smaller in scale – happened in the nineties. Was there some campaign finance reform thing that the Redoublechins killed, then got all bent out of shape over when Clinton then went ahead and beat them with it?

  8. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 14, 2012 @6:53 am

    OT, but interesting!
    The GOP leaders in both houses drop their objections to extending the tax cuts for the middle class.

    I can hardly wait to hear the Teabaggers scream that ‘The Doc-fix’ is in!

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

  9. Craig Pennington  •  Feb 14, 2012 @7:59 am

    It’s like a hundred Karl Roves have bloomed.

    I see what you did there.

  10. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 14, 2012 @9:04 am

    Waaaaaay OT, but here’s Frum’s take on Grover’s CPAC speech.

    The one that said that all we need in a Republican President is an opposable thumb with which to sign the laws the highly unpopular Congress (read: Republicans House) lays before him.

    Friedman and Frum are starting to see the light.
    When we get to the “G’s,” and David Gregory starts questioning the BS the Republicans spew on his weekly Conservative man-on-man love-fest, we’ll know that even the dimmest f’in bulbs in the country are starting to draw some f’in current.
    And who cares if it’s AC or DC, as long as people start to realize the BS coming out of DC?

  11. Felicity  •  Feb 14, 2012 @4:00 pm

    Republicans have never gotten ‘over’ – The New Deal, the Fair Deal, the Square Deal, school desegregation, the Miranda ruling, the end of Jim Crow, Roe… Their problem is that the majority of the rest of us not only have, we’re comfortable with all of them.

    At this point Republicans are sounding like fanatics, at least as Churchill defined them, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”

    And their obedient minions? As long as Republicans continue to pepper their rhetoric with “God, guns, and the free-market,” their minions will stay on board (the hopefully sinking ship.)

  12. Mike  •  Feb 24, 2012 @4:04 am

    The Presidental race is toast. We need to start looking at what’s going on down ticket.

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