Monday, December 03, 2012

Who's Worse, Fernando Wood Or Joe Crowley-- 2 Of The Worst NYC Democrats In History? Or Grover Norquist?


I'll never know, of course, but I doubt history will contradict me when I say there hasn't been an authentically "great" president in my lifetime. (I haven't given up hope, though, and I'm counting on Elizabeth Warren.) Since I was born, there have just been a series of mediocrities, some worse than others, like the two incredibly awful Bushes, not to mention the utterly clueless Ronald Reagan, all three happy to serve the breathtakingly selfish financial interests of the plutocracy. In retrospect-- severe retrospect-- I'd have to guess the best president we had since I was born was the first, Dwight Eisenhower-- and he wasn't someone beloved in my parents' household. In light of what's come since, he seems like a real paragon of civic virtue.

Saturday I went to see the new film Lincoln and I heartily recommend everyone go see it. All the villains in the film are Democrats-- and, starting with Tammany boss/New York City ex-mayor and Congressman Fernando Wood, villains is a polite way to describe them. Wood wasn't just a racist, he actually tried getting the City Council to secede from the Union during the Civil War. The good guys were the Republicans, particularly Pennsylvania Rep. Thaddeus Stevens, the father of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, which ended slavery, extended equal protection to all citizens, and granted all male citizens the right to vote. Today his old district is represented by Stevens' polar opposite, a bigoted and reactionary right-wing enemy of working families, Joe Pitts, also a Republican. Also... To make any sense out of Lincoln in terms of current politics, every time the word "Republican" is uttered, the viewer has to think "Democrat" and every time the word "Democrat" is uttered, the viewer has to think "Republican."

That said, there's nothing more that I would love-- as today's Democratic Party sells its soul to corporatism and sells out it's grassroots base in an orgy of shameless and corrupt careerism-- more than to see a transformation of the GOP back to the kind of political party it was when Thaddeus Stevens and Abraham Lincoln defined it. I don't expect to see that happen, but I'm always delighted when I see contemporary Republicans, like William Kristol, come face to face with a chilling reality that should push their party in that direction-- the direction of representing the people while leaving the corporate interests to the Democrats like Steny Hoyer, Steve Israel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Joe Crowley who pursue them so energetically and ruthlessly, while leaving working families to fend for themselves in the jungle the two parties have created. This week Bill Kristol was going through that kind of political self-examination for his tattered party in public.
Is the Grand Old Party in as much disarray as it seems? Yup. For one thing, Republicans are electorally shellshocked. For the past couple of years, they had been confident Barack Obama would lose in November. Many Republicans held that belief going into Election Day. This was the first time since 1948 that Republicans were confident they were going to win a presidential election-- and then lost it. The Republican psyche will take a while to recover from the shock of November 6.

It’s also gradually sunk in that the GOP has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, and that the GOP has been thumped in three of the last four national contests (2006, 2008, and 2012). Since the end of the Cold War, the Republican party has had only two really good election days, in 1994 and in 2010. Those were both off-year victories in reaction to the mistakes of first-term Democratic presidents, and in neither case proved harbingers of presidential victory two years later.

Well, if the electoral scene isn’t pretty, maybe the legislative one is better? It’s true Republicans still control the House. But this turns out to be at best a mixed blessing. Because they’re in control, House Republicans are supposed to negotiate with the president on the budget and taxes. They’re united in scorning President Obama’s opening proposal. But what’s the GOP proposal for averting the fiscal cliff? There doesn’t seem to be one.
He then blames the Republican disaster on Grover Norquist and, if you look closely enough, on the people who consider themselves bound by his ridiculous and entirely anti-American pledge. Kristol is certainly another on a growing list of Republicans who would very much like to drown Grover Norquist in a bathtub. "Will Republicans in Congress," he asks, "be successful at finding a way out of their current mess? Who knows. This year, the most well-funded Republican candidate in history, with the most professional campaign, supported by the most sophisticated super-PACs, proved unable to find a path to victory-- even though such a path was eminently findable. Republicans in Congress are equally capable of winding up on the losing side of the equation. So 2012 could end up a lost year for the GOP... [which] sure seems to be in a grand old mess. But messes can produce moments of opportunity, lemons can be turned into lemonade, and it’s always darkest before the dawn. Except when it turns pitch black."

Sunday Allen West was reminding his followers, that he's just like Abraham Lincoln. And it doesn't get more discouraging than that.

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