Part 1—Crazy proposals v. Flub Watch: Our political culture is brainless, dumb, sad.
Just consider those crazy proposals—the crazy proposals Republican candidates are allowed to advance.
Last Saturday evening, Michael Steele, former RNC chairman, mused about Candidate Ron Paul during a chat on MSNBC. Paul had made a budget proposal which was transparently crazy—but Steele didn’t seem to know that. This is what the gentleman said about Paul’s crazy proposal:
STEELE (2/4/12): In tough economic times, what [Ron Paul] is saying makes a lot of sense. And what’s interesting is, he has been saying it, as Steve noticed, for a very long time. And I took away something that’s very significant.Candidate Paul is talking about “cutting a trillion dollars out of the budget in one year.” Do you know the size of the federal budget? If you do, you know that Ron Paul’s budget proposal is just flat bat-shit insane.
He’s talking about cutting a trillion dollars out of the budget in one year. You know the old Washington trick. We do it over ten years—so we’d cut like a hundred billion dollars a year for 10 years. That’s nothing. What he’s talking about is a fundamental change in the way the government manages its money. And that resonates with lot of voters.
And I’ve said for a long time and you may disagree with me a little bit on this. I think there’s a synergy that Ron Paul has that captures that Tea Party and that Occupy Wall Street-esque feel on the economic side, which is why you see those 20-something year olds galvanizing, one thousand-plus college kids in an auditorium on a Saturday night.
Alas! Michael Steele didn’t seem to know that Ron Paul’s proposal is bat-shit insane. But then again, neither did Karen Finney, another member of the august MSNBC panel.
Finney seems like a very nice person. Not long ago, she was communications director for the DNC. Responding to Steele, this is what the MSNBC contributor said:
FINNEY (continuing directly): That’s truly an important point. Ron Paul seems to be the only Republican candidate who is really made a play for the youth vote. I mean, he’s really done well in Iowa and New Hampshire, for example, among youth voters, though I would be curious to see in terms of Nevada how that helps in terms of his goal of doing better in the caucus.Gack! Steele praised Paul for a crazy proposal—and Finney discussed a process question. Never mind explaining the fact that Paul’s proposal is bat-shit insane. The “important point” lay in the fact that Paul has pursued the youth vote! Finney thinks that Ron Paul's message "really resonates" too!
You know the other thing is, in the last election cycle, the Republicans really didn’t make the effort to go after the youth vote, because there was such the assumption that President Obama would get the youth vote. But what Pew is reporting is that in the course of the last four years, young voters, millennial in particular, are becoming more frustrated about the role of government. And whether or not—and so I think, you know, Ron Paul’s message really resonates. They don’t see government working as much as they used to be the most sort of optimistic about.
That’s how discussions often go on our liberal channel. Thanks to decades of such discussions, Republican candidates are allowed to make budget proposals which “resonate with lot of voters” even though they’re bat-shit insane. Because no—Ron Paul isn’t the only Republican candidate making crazy proposals.
At present, GOP proposals are all insane. But how often do voters hear this?
Paul’s proposal is transparently nuts. But then again, how about Mitt Romney’s budget proposals? In a recent editorial, the Washington Post discussed the sheer absurdity of his tax proposals (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/2/12). But look at the way Romney’s proposals are described by Michael Tomasky, one of our favorites, in the current New York Review of Books. The very brightest of the liberal elite will see them limned this way:
TOMASKY (2/23/12): Romney’s proposed tax cut, writes The Washington Post's Ezra Klein, is roughly three times the size of George W. Bush’s 2000 proposal. It’s far more regressive—it would actually raise taxes on many working-class people, which Bush did not do—and would add to the deficit a hefty $600 billion.Is that really what Ezra Klein wrote? Sort of. Following Tomasky’s footnote, we found Klein writing that Romney’s plan “amounts to a tax cut of $600 billion in 2015”—in that one year alone! Given the size of our ongoing deficits; given the size of the annual budget; given Republican screeching about deficits/debt, that $600 billion isn’t a “hefty” amount; such a tax cut would be bat-shit insane. But you’ll never see the liberal world explain such facts to voters. We just don’t know how to do it.
Tomasky’s account is technically accurate—and yes, he’s one of our favorites. Having said that, you can bet the house that the New York Review’s elite liberal readers can’t begin to explain the absurdity of Candidate Romney’s tax cut proposals. We liberals have been failing such tests for the past forty years. As a result, the country is crawling with regular people, young and old, who believe all sort of crazy things. (If we lower our tax rates, we get higher revenue!) People like this are easily swayed by all sorts of crazy proposals. Borrowing Steele’s unchallenged language, proposals which are utterly crazy “resonate with” such voters, who number in the scores of millions.
We liberals simply don’t know how to talk about serious matters. What are we left with instead? In this morning’s New York Times, Helene Cooper offers this sad report about the DNC’s ongoing “flub watch.” In that strategy, the DNC and related groups in wait for small imperfections of speech by Romney and broadcast these “flubs” to the world.
Cooper’s “Political Memo” describes a liberal world which doesn’t know how to discuss things which actually matter. In fact, the DNC which Cooper describes has been getting its brains beaten out for years; it may or may not defeat Romney this way, but progressive interests will never prosper in the process. Good God! Just look at the way these losers reacted to Romney's latest “flub.” For several decades, this has been your DNC at work:
COOPER (2/6/12): The Internet ad cobbled together by the Democratic National Committee hit the Web on Wednesday afternoon.According to the DNC, you can tell that Romney isn’t concerned about the middle-class because the tax cuts he’s offering them just aren’t large enough!
“In a shallow attempt to show concern for the middle class, Mitt Romney told CNN today he’s not concerned about the very poor,” the ad said. “But his policy proposals make clear that he also isn’t very concerned about the middle class—his tax plan provides a modest tax cut, about $167, for middle-class families but provides about $146,000 for families making more than $1 million.” It continued: “Mitt Romney: Not concerned about the poor, or the middle class.”
Romney’s tax cuts for the highest earners are in fact bat-shit insane. But in that text, you see the DNC adopting the RNC’s most basic frameworks: Taxes must always be cut! The measure of a pol’s concern lies in the size of his tax cuts! But then, President Obama has proposed extending the bulk of George Bush’s tax cuts.
Just twelve years ago, when those cuts were proposed, Democrats opposed them en masse.
Republicans propose the darnedest things—and the liberal world doesn’t know how to say so. All week long, we’ll look at the way prevailing “flub culture” makes a joke of our world. We’ll look at Bruni; we’ll look at Dowd; we’ll review the analytical skills of Maddow. We’ll look at Cooper as she tries to "be clear" about what Romney said in that latest flub.
Over and over, we’ll see the truth:
In the mainstream press and on our TV machine thingy, poorly trained minds pursue flub culture, making a joke of our world. This has been happening for a good many years. Plainly, it has helped create our current large predicament.
Alas! This “Flub Watch” seems to be all we have. It follows decades of liberal incompetence. This approach may or may not prevail against Romney—but uh-oh! In the modern mainstream and liberal worlds, we’re all sons and daughters of Flubber!
Fooling with flubs is all we have. This is the way we got here.
Tomorrow: The way Frank Bruni reasons