Democrat vs Republican-- What Will The Election Really Come Down To In November?
There are definitely people who think Obama is a great and accomplished president and there are definitely people who think Mitt Romney would make a great and accomplished president. It may be difficult to imagine but there really are sincere people in both camps. Yesterday Romney announced out of the blue-- flying in the face of the entire premise of the GOP argument against Obama-- that he would keep the good parts of ObamaCare. Presumably that means-- since he and Ryan never explain any details about anything-- he would get rid of the old Republican idea of the individual mandate, the idea he used in Massachusetts and that he pushed on Obama while the legislation was being thought out. OK, fair enough... that's the unpopular part of ObamaCare. Paying for stuff always is. It was tantamount to Mitt Romney having gone on Meet The Press yesterday and announcing that anyone hungry could go into a restaurant and eat whatever they needed-- and then leave without paying. [Within hours Romney had the etch-a-sketch out and retroactively never said anything he said on Meet The Press.] But, yes, there are people who think Mitt Romney would make a great and accomplished president.
And then there's the Obama record and the reality of an economy still foundering in the disaster Bush and the conservatives in Congress left us. He's been tepid and half-assed when we needed someone more like what Bernie Sanders described in his interview with Bill Moyers that we looked at last night.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: In my view, President Obama ran the best campaign for president that I have seen in my lifetime. He did what is enormously difficult, get young people involved, get working people involved, have a vision out there, get people excited. That's not easy stuff. He did it.
What I think happened is, in a sense, the day after the election, he said to all of those people, all of that grassroots activism, "Thank you very much. Now I got to sit down and work with Republicans. And I got to start compromising. And I'm not going to fight for the vision that I campaigned on."
For example, every speech that I give, I talk about the crooks on Wall Street and what their illegal behavior has done to this economy. And people say, "Bernie, why aren't these guys in jail? Why isn't the Obama administration taking these people on? Why aren't we breaking up these large banks?" From the White House, do you hear much about that? You don't.
The power of big money, coming forward with the bold initiatives that get excited, say to them, "Listen, we got some right-wing extremists running the House. I need your help. We're going to change our disastrous trade policies. We are going to create a jobs program to put millions of people to work. But I can't do it taking on all the money guys. I need millions of people standing with me." Have you heard that from the White House?
Bill Moyers: No, what we hear is continuing calls for bipartisanship, even as Republicans have waged the most partisan and obstructionist agenda in modern history. And even the other day, the president said, "I'm sure that after I'm re-elected, the Republicans will work with me." I mean, I don't understand that, frankly. And you've been down there all of this time. From his speeches, he seems to be a fighter. But from his behavior, he caves.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: I don't understand it, either. Look, there's nothing wrong with bipartisanship. If you and I disagree and we can come up with a decent compromise that's good for the American people, let's do it. But when you have people whose main function in life is to obstruct and destroy every single initiative, when you have the Republican leader in the Senate say, "Our main goal is to make sure that Obama is a one-term president."
And you keep reaching out. And they keep cutting you and cutting you and cutting you, there comes a time when you say, "Hey, I got to stand up to you. I have to rally the American people." He has not done that. Is he a fighter? I think that you have a very competitive guy, in terms of himself getting reelected. I think this guy's going to work like a dog.
Bill Moyers: That's his career.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: That's right. He's a tough guy in that sense. In terms of public policy, standing up for Republicans, I think we're looking at a different president.
From a progressive perspective, Romney is basically a zero... and Obama isn't the champion we had reason to hope for based on his 2008 campaign. (Based on his record in the Senate we got exactly what we should have expected.) Does that mean we just give up? We can't, especially not if we live in Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, maybe Pennsylvania, maybe Michigan and Arizona. Those are the states that could go either way and determine who will lead the country for the next 4 years.
The Republican argument is that Obama hasn't delivered. And he hasn't. But what's been obvious all along to political and news junkies-- that the GOP has purposefully obstructed him and gone so far as to sabotage the economy to destroy his presidency-- is now becoming apparent to actual news consumers for the first time. There's now proof that on Inauguration Day, a cabal of some of the most loathsome right-wing operatives in the GOP-- Eric Cantor (VA), Kevin McCarthy (CA), Paul Ryan (WI), Pete Sessions (TX), Jeb Hensarling (TX), Pete Hoekstra (MI), Dan Lungren (CA), Jim DeMint (SC), Jon Kyl (AZ), Tom Coburn (OK), John Ensign (NV), Bob Corker (TN), along with Newt Gingrich and Frank Luntz-- met for several hours in the Caucus Room to plot out a plan of obstructionism for the newly elected president and increasing pain for American working families. From Robert Draper's new book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives:
The dinner lasted nearly four hours. They parted company almost giddily. The Republicans had agreed on a way forward:
Go after Geithner. (And indeed Kyl did, the next day: ‘Would you answer my question rather than dancing around it-- please?’)
Show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies. (Eight days later, Minority Whip Cantor would hold the House Republicans to a unanimous No against Obama’s economic stimulus plan.)
Begin attacking vulnerable Democrats on the airwaves. (The first National Republican Congressional Committee attack ads would run in less than two months.)
Win the spear point of the House in 2010. Jab Obama relentlessly in 2011. Win the White House and the Senate in 2012.
When Kansas Republican state Senator Jean Schodorf of Wichita watched a discussion of Draper's book and learned about the obstructionist meeting she decided to quit the Republican Party, which her family had been active in since the time of Abraham Lincoln. She told John Celock of HuffPo that "When I heard that while people were suffering from the recession that Republican leaders were plotting to get even with the president, that was it."
People are waking up to this sociopathic behavior by the GOP leadership. And more than a few people recognize it as treason against the American people. Retired criminal defense attorney John Reed:
We know now, though, that the very same day the world welcomed the new President into office, a small group of powerful men, bent on his destruction, secretly met to design a plan to create economic and political chaos in America for the coming four years, solely for the purpose of regaining the House of Representatives in 2010, and the Presidency in 2012... The conspirators concluded not only would they attempt to win back power by any means necessary, but also they would oppose every policy initiative and every bill of any significance advanced by President Obama, and, by implication, whether the policy or bill forwarded the interests of the American public or not. As we now know, this plan included voting against legislation written and introduced by the Republicans themselves, or formerly supported by Republicans and opposed by the Democrats. As we know now, this agreement included refusing to raise the federal debt ceiling, or, in other words, refusing to authorize payment for expenses the very same Congress had previously voted to incur, which nearly led to a worldwide depression far worse than the "Great Depression" of the 1930's and caused the partial downgrade of America's triple "A" bond status. This all occurred while troops were in the field and the Commander-In-Chief conducted two separate wars, and played a leading role in a third.
...When conspirators gather and agree to purposely harm the public, or the public purse, particularly in time of war and international economic crisis, one must ask whether it is mere partisanship we sense, or the more rarefied scent of treason that lingers in the halls of Congress. What is the difference between planning to win the next election and conspiring to intentionally collapse the American economy, if necessary, merely so the conspirators' party can regain the Office of the Presidency? On such razor sharp edges the Republicans decided to dance.
Conspiracy is a crime in itself. It is an agreement between two or more persons to engage together in a criminal act or an innocent act that becomes criminal when other members of the conspiracy carry out their assigned roles. Many states also add a requirement that the prosecution prove the defendant committed at least one overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. The conspiracy need not succeed for the defendant to be found guilty.
...[I]f a group of current and former, elected, Republican leaders met and formed a plan to intentionally weaken the American economy in time of war, that meeting might be said to be a conspiracy of individuals with clear duties of allegiance to the United States either agreeing to an act of war against the states or agreeing to give enemies of the United States aid and comfort. On the other hand, the conspirators must also "adhere" to the enemies of the United States. To the founders, "adhere" meant "to believe in," as one is an adherent to Islam or to Laissez-Faire Capitalism or to the Republican Party platform.
These men fail the test for adherence to the enemy, most will say, since the enemy is a tactic: terrorism. A decent prosecutor could argue that threatening to default on the country's debt obligations implies a certain adherence to the tactic of terrorism. That case, however, hangs by a thin thread, one unlikely to turn into a noose. Even if one makes the current conflict more specific, as against radical Islam, for instance, instead of just terrorism, one still fails to find the necessary adherence. Thus, we are left with whether the conspiracy contemplated an act of war against the states, and whether an overt act with two witnesses can be proved. In some ways, the crash and burn plan using default on the debt limit to extort the executive branch does qualify as an act of war against the states. Although the likelihood of conviction on that basis is extremely low, given the way the American people feel about Congress right now, one cannot presume any result in a treason trial as a foregone conclusion. But the result is not what is important. And it is here where Democrats and Progressives differ profoundly from Republicans.
And now we have the first indications that American voters are starting to grasp what the Republicans had in mind and what they did. Half the country is now aware of the GOP conspiracy to tank the economy and even if many Republican voters have grown immune to reality most independent voters now understand why the recovery has taken so long.
Suffolk University polled registered voters in Florida and found that nearly half of voters, including large minorities of conservatives and Republicans, believed “Republicans are intentionally stalling efforts to jump-start the economy to insure that Barack Obama is not re-elected?”
On Monday, a nation-wide Washington Post/ABC News poll yielded similar results. The question in the Post/ABC poll was different-- it asked respondents to choose between “President Obama is making a good faith effort to deal with the country’s economic problems, but the Republicans in Congress are playing politics by blocking his proposals and programs,” and “President Obama has not provided leadership on the economy, and he is just blaming the Republicans in Congress as an excuse for not doing his job.”
Once again, half of their respondents went with option one. But as Greg Sargent noted, that’s because Republican voters overwhelmingly disagreed. By contrast, a healthy majority of moderates and independents agree with the economic sabotage premise.
Also on Monday, liberal blogger Markos Moulitsas publicized the top lines of a PPP poll he commissioned, which closely mimic the Post/ABC survey: “50% think GOP intentionally stalling economy, incl 51% of Indies, & 15% of GOPers. Details Tuesday.”
Markos promises the details of the PPP poll tomorrow. But the premise Blue America has been putting forward all year-- and for several years-- is that we must make a concerted effort to elect serious progressives to Congress in place of Republicans and their corrupt, reactionary Democratic allies (i.e.- Blue Dogs and New Dems). Here's a good place to start, if you'd like to help.