Saturday, October 30, 2010

Boehner Makes The Final Argument For Corporations And Teabaggers... But Who Will Make One For Ordinary Americans?


Boehner gave the Republican weekly radio address this morning-- his party's final argument of the election season. He was back in Ohio, getting ready to campaign with the GOP's pet Nazi candidate, Rich Iott, in Lucas County. Iott, who called the SS unit he emulates "freedom fighters" defines "freedom" exactly the same way all rightists-- whether Nazis or Republicans-- do: the "freedom" of the rich and powerful to exploit the vulnerable and to exploit society. Iott's second biggest campaign contributor, after himself, is none other than... John Boehner.

Boehner's speech this morning was a polished up but tired compendium of the same twisted and dishonest arguments claiming Obama, rather than the very policies Boehner has been pushing for two decades, is the cause of the country's economic situation. “In the final days of the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama promised to ‘change this country and change the world.’ Well I don’t know about the world, but here at home, Americans haven’t experienced the change President Obama promised," he smirked. “One in ten of our fellow citizens is out of work. Our national debt has grown by $3 trillion. Trust in government has fallen to an all-time low."

That last sentence is a boast of the only accomplishment the GOP has achieved since the 2008 election. Even Boehner, though, has to admit the economy went south when Bush was in the White House. He claims, though, that Obama's policies made it worse.

The other day I was recalling a passage in Rick Perlstein's exhaustive and insightful Nixonland about the run-up to the 1970 midterm election.

Nixon was certain the Republicans would rock the midterms. He and Agnew weren't just campaigning against liberal Republicans, they were on a jihad against Democrats, and were horrified when their efforts largely backfired. They did manage to unseat moderate New York Republican Charles Goodell and replace him with one-term extremist James Buckley (who ran on the Conservative Party line, a kind of teabagger ahead of his time; Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan routed him in the next election). But Ralph Smith, the far right Illinois Republican they were so determined to keep in office, lost to Adlai Stevenson III and the far right Republican tap dancer in California, Georgia Murphy, was slaughtered by John Tunney. Nixon's handpicked wingnut candidates in Florida and New Jersey didn't even come close, and George H.W. Bush lost his second consecutive Senate race in Texas.

Democrats targeted by Nixon for smears and dirty tricks won reelection in almost every state where Agnew set foot, from Wisconsin-- where the Nixon candidate only managed 28% against William Proxmire-- to Nevada, Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota and Utah. Mitt Romney's mother Lenore was Nixon's big hope in Michigan, but the voters there were smart enough to send her away with less than a third of the vote and reelect Phil Hart. Hubert Humphrey won back his Senate seat in Minnesota, and so did Ted Kennedy (MA), Edmund Muskie (ME), Mike Mansfield (MT), Joseph Montoya (NM) and Gale McGee (WY), all equated with terrorists by Nixon hatchetmen.

The House, which Nixon never understood and never cared about anyway, went even worse for the GOP. They showed a net loss of a dozen seats, and many of the kooks Agnew backed as challengers to Democratic incumbents-- like John Bircher Phyllis Schlafly-- were badly defeated.

How did Democrats turn the Nixon-Agnew onslaught around? Reagan and the two Bushes hadn't yet stacked the Supreme Court with a gaggle of dangerous corporate hacks like Alito, Scalia, Roberts and Thomas, and the Fairness Doctrine was still in place. When Nixon bought airtime for a 30-minute speech on all the networks the night before election, the FEC made him split the time with the Democrats (who had to pay their share). Nixon's speech was chopped down from 30 minutes to 15 and made no sense; it looked and sounded horrible. The Democrats recruited a relaxed and sane-sounding Sen. Edmund Muskie (ME) to make their case. It cost the GOP their victory.
Calmly, he said the charge Democrats appeased thugs as "a lie, and the American people know it is a lie-- a lie about the party "which led us out of depression and victory over international barbarism; the party of John Kennedy, who was slain in the service of the country he inspired; the party of Lyndon Johnson, who withstood the fury of countless demonstrations in order to pursue a course he believed in; the party of Robert Kennedy, murdered on the eve of his greatest triumph. How dare they tell us that this party is less devoted or less courageous in maintaining American principles and values than they are themselves?"

His voice rose slightly; some passion was called for.

Occasionally the camera closed in on his chiseled face. The word Lincolnesque appeared in the press reports. His tone turned rueful: "This attack is not simply the overzealousness of a few local leaders. It has been led, inspired, and guided from the highest offices in the land...

"Let me try to bring some clarity to this deliberate confusion," he said. Democrats wanted security against lawlessness, too, but Democrats also thought you deserved economic security. The Republicans? "They oppose your interests" and "really believe that if they can make you afraid enough or angry enough, you can be tricked into voting against yourself. It is all part of the same contempt, and tomorrow you can show them the mistake they have made." The debate wasn't between left or right, but between "the politics of fear and the politics of trust. One says: you are encircled by monstrous dangers. Give us power over your freedom so we may protect you. The other says: the world is a baffling and hazardous place, but it can be shaped to the will of men... In voting for the Democratic Party tomorrow, you cast your vote for trust, not just in leaders of policies, but trusting your fellow citizens, in the ancient tradition of this home for freedom and, most of all, for trust in yourself."

...The New York Times found a typical blue-collar swing voter to quote in Akron, Teamster Mike Mangione. He said the National Guardsmen were "one hundred percent right in Kent State." But his wife was taking a job for the first time because he had lost his overtime and they wanted to keep three kids in Catholic school. He was voting Democratic. "This summer only ten out of forty guys were working because of the slowdown in the construction industry."

My question is almost too obvious to ask; I just wish the answer was as well. Who do the Democrats have today who can make the closing argument the way Muskie did? In other words, someone with an air of authenticity who can rally the base and appeal to independents? Republicans and their corporate allies have been working since November, 2008-- well, really way before-- to undermine President Obama and cast aspersions on his character. (It's like 1800 all over again.) And other effective Democrats, like Pelosi, for example, have been vilified to the point where their messages, regardless of content, fall on deaf ears. The right has always been very good at that. In 1970 Muskie won his own reelection bid while his national appearance helped win the cycle for the Democrats and deal a severe political blow to Nixon. Looking at the Democratic senators up for reelection this year doesn't exactly inspire confidence that too many could close the case for the party-- or even themselves. Blanche Lincoln anyone? There's one powerful exception, though: Russ Feingold, the conscience of the Senate. The DNC should buy the airtime and put him on the air nationally. It could help save his own seat and make the case effectively for the whole party, much the way Muskie did in 1970. Or maybe this will work:

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At 4:37 PM, Anonymous broken record said...

John Stewart's rally was about the future (young energetic faces full of life and hope) Glenn Becks was about the past (Charles Dickens would have felt right at home just like all the pasty old white losers).

Who cares about Boehner in the scheme of things soon to be forgotten as a relic of the past. This present system is too archaic to survive much longer. Let us hope a new economic system can be built soon enough to avoid humanities extinction.

Making money and making sense are mutually exclusive.

High unemployment is a sign of success. Eliminate the non wealth producing jobs.

"Eliminate the negative, accentuate the positive, don't mess with Mr. in between".

At 6:51 PM, Blogger Kay Dennison said...

Please don't call me a pasty old loser. Yes, Jon Stewart's rally was about the future and a lot of us elders were there, too. We are concerned for our children and grandchildren's futures as well as our surviving long and well. I am tired of people like the previous commenter who denigrates age. Youth is not always the answer. I can (and do) still vote and campaign for my candidates as I've been doing for over 40 years unlike too many young people do not.

And yeah, I hate John Boehner and Rich Iott.

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous broken record said...

Many beautiful older faces too. I didn't mean to imply age was a special criteria. It just seems the makeup of the too events was very different. People are motivated by fear and longing I am 74 and am motivated by longing. I long for a world that works for everyone in the shortest amount of time possible through spontaneous cooperation without disadvantaging anyone.

If that is your photo Kay, you look neither pasty or old. Hate is not a good thing Kay so I would hope you drop that. Peace

At 9:41 PM, Blogger Kay Dennison said...

To br: That photo is fairly recent -- maybe 2-3 years old -- I don't like having my picture taken. As to how I look, I got my mom's skin and sense of propeiety and my dad's face, height, and IQ. Blame it on DNA. And I take care of myself. Just because one is older, it doesn't mean one has to go to hell -- mind or body. Taking care of oneself and staying interested in the world are important. I'm also active in a lot of volunteer activities and read voraciously and travel when I can. I spent this afteroon in my witch hat handing out treats to the kids in my 'hood and talking to one of the teens I know who stopped by to see if he could help with anything.

That said, I blog with the Elderbloggers -- some of the most intelligent, politically savvy folks online -- and we range the political spectrum across the world. Part of our duty is to present elders (we don't like the term 'senior citizen' and most of us don't like the Tea Party people who are, what I call, "drinking the kool-aid.

I read a 50 or more blogs a day and check in on a dozen or so newspapers. And I know I'm not alone in that. I have no intention of being sedentery until I am forced to be. My next challenge is taking up painting.

I'll be glad when Tuesday is over. I'm really tired of election 2010. I'm so soured by it I don't know what I'll do in 2012. I'd like a world like you want but there are forces that have made it so and I'm getting tired of fighting them. Jon Stewart's rally was a breath of fresh air to this tired, battle worn old lady.

Hope your candidates win on Tuesday -- but only if they're progressive!!! (grin)


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