Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 10, 2008

PENCE LOOKS BACK TO THE FUTURE.... I've noted several times over the last month or so that the Republican Party, while contemplating how to pull itself out of its ditch, should probably start coming up with some kind of policy agenda it can present to voters. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), a radio talk-show host turned politician, who was recently elected the chairman of the House Republican Conference, thinks he's up to the task.

In an op-ed for the far-right Washington Times this week, Pence, who has a tendency to be strikingly dim-witted, lays out a vision for his party. (via Yglesias)

Ideas like a balanced budget amendment, school-choice vouchers, health savings accounts and welfare reform should take center stage in the Republican agenda. And we must have a vision for defending the cherished values of life and marriage whenever they come under attack from the courts, the new administration or congressional liberals. [...]

If Democrats are true to their campaign promises, Republicans will have the opportunity to take a stand on behalf of the American people -- to give Americans more access to American oil, to preserve secret-ballot elections in the workplace, to defeat Fairness Doctrine censorship on the airwaves of talk radio and to defeat any effort to overturn reasonable restrictions on abortion at the state level.

Let's quickly take Pence's policy ideas one at a time.

* A "balanced budget amendment": A discredited idea from over a decade ago, which would be blisteringly stupid in the current financial crisis.

* "School-choice vouchers": A discredited idea from over two decades ago, which even conservative activists are giving up on.

* "Welfare reform": This already happened, 12 years ago.

Pence throws in some predictable shout-outs to drilling the coasts, undermining unions, restricting abortion rights, and waging a battle against the imaginary forces anxious to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.

The #3 person in the House Republican leadership, in other words, doesn't have new ideas, or even coherent ones. Pence just wants to recycle some old talking points, and label it a "vision."

It's called intellectual bankruptcy, and it's not pretty.

Steve Benen 3:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Comments

Shorter Pence: We must to keep our focus on teh crazy.

Posted by: JoeW on December 10, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

America is in decline after years of Republican neglect and all this guy can come up with is more of the same. Americans are clamoring for effective government and American renewal. Shesh Republicans are stupid.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 10, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if the Republicans are going to transform their party from an organized crime syndicate into a vaudeville slapstick comedy act, I guess that's a positive change.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 10, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

This stuff is beyond redundant. Can we propose and discuss real solutions to real problems instead of just ranking on idiotic Republican talking points? It's like having a discussion based on the rantings of the religious fanatic I bump into on the subway. It's better to just smile, be polite and get back to the business at hand.

It's not like there are a shortage of problems to discuss and news events to link to.

Posted by: grinning cat on December 10, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Pence forgot returning to the gold standard.

Posted by: steve duncan on December 10, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

From the summary on vouchers:

" One study, by Harvard's Caroline M. Hoxby, a voucher advocate, purported to find test score improvements in the Milwaukee public schools most affected by the risk of losing students to private schools; but the gains may have been caused simply by the lowest-performing students moving to private schools, as Hoxby herself concedes."

That is the problem we want solved in Fresno County, CA; get the poor performing students in separate schools so we can turn the successful public schools into on-line, personal study institutions.

Our problem, now, is the best students want to go online and just meet with instructors twice a week. We cannot give our best students this kind of freedom, because we need a critical mass to support the baby-sitting functions for the poor performers.

Our school system just now started a personal study system for top students, it is run up the street in an unused shopping mall.

The top students love it, and the personal study system is affiliated with the regular high school, so kids can still go to the football games and dances.

We have another high school called University High, but there the students just go to Fresno State College and take college classes, which, for undergraduate study are at the advanced high school level anyway. This school is in the top 50 nationwide.

The key to education success is to separate the poor performing families, and let the teachers union babysit them, while the best performers get away from traditional babysitting school and traditional government serves union or teacher unions.

Posted by: MattYoung on December 10, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Bring it on, Mikey! The crazier you guys get, the easier you are to defeat.

Posted by: K on December 10, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

So the "health savings accounts" idea is where people get less insurance coverage right? That should be especially popular.

Posted by: Emma Anne on December 10, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

The biggest problem the GOP will have in trying to reinvent itself is that it's spent so much time reflexively opposing Democrats that it really doesn't have any ideas remaining.

Simply opposing Democratic policies is not a governing philosophy. And opposing popular Democratic policies is political suicide.

I say let them keep living the early 90s over again. Maybe it'll keep them occupied long enough for the adults to fix our country.

Posted by: Mark D on December 10, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Re: the Fairness Doctrine
It's pretty pathetic that the Republicans are using a non-existent issue as a rallying cry. It is even more pathetic that they haven't framed the issue well for them. For those that don't know what it is about, the headline will simply be "Republicans oppose Fairness" --not exactly a winner. It's not like the "Death Tax" or "Pro-Life" etc. where naming the issue has helped them.

Posted by: kp on December 10, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans should commit to landing a man (or woman) on the Moon, and returning him (or her) safely to Earth before the next decade is over.

Posted by: AJB on December 10, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

We cannot give our best students this kind of freedom, because we need a critical mass to support the baby-sitting functions for the poor performers. Matt Y

I would think telling the best students to go away and use the internet to learn would be a real simple solution. I'm not sure, however, why you think this would be a good solution.

Posted by: Danp on December 10, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

It's called intellectual bankruptcy, and it's not pretty.

Wonder if they can get some of the bailout money?

Didn't Tim Pawlenty also push a balanced-budget amendment in the past day or two? Bill Clinton balanced his last four budgets in a row, without a balanced-budget amendment. Bush, on the other hand, has gone 0 for 8.

Maybe we should amend the Constitution to require that Republican Administrations maintain balanced budgets. They're the ones who seem to need the help.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on December 10, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

It's easy to get angry about this stuff, but that is in the context of the country being evenly divided on these issues. These idiots just got the shellacking of a generation, and that comes hot on the heels of the one they took in 06. If they want to keep trotting out this stuff that doesn't work anymore, it's better for us because we have learned how to oppose them more effectively and the country is not really receptive to this nonsense anymore. Keep it up republicans. If you have any honor, every last one of you will go down with the ship. It feels really, REALLY good to be a democrat.

Posted by: Patrick on December 10, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

It is too bad that these clowns own the mass communication airwaves. Without that constant spewing of pro-aristocrat propaganda, more of the low information people would live in the real world.
I will bet you that two or more of my brothers-in-law are outraged that us lefties are going to censor Rush & Sean right off their radio dial. As far as politics, they are idiots because they want to belive this crap. Otherwise, they are intelligent (really!), hard working, sucessful guys.
Weird

Posted by: BuzzMon on December 10, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

The key to education success is to separate the poor performing families, and let the teachers union babysit them

Feh. Because poor performers cannot possibly be improved, just babysit them. Are you suggesting, perhaps, that they were born stupid, and that no amount of intensive teaching can improve them? A friend of mine did not learn to read till he was 9, he's now as successful as anyone could hope to be, has won awards in his field, etc, etc -- because his parents had the money and the will to get him a good education anyway.

And furthermore, even for the profoundly disabled, outcomes can be improved by education/therapy that is more than just "babysitting".

I am simply appalled at your remark. We're not a poor country. We can afford to educate our kids, all of them, well.

Posted by: dr2chase on December 10, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Welfare reform? That already happened. The only possible remaining welfare reform would be to kick everyone off welfare, in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Why doesn't the GOP just come right out and admit that they hate us?

Posted by: Personal Failure on December 10, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Pence forgot Social Security!! Yeah. That's the ticket.

Posted by: Joe R on December 10, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK
... Our problem, now, is the best students want to go online and just meet with instructors twice a week. We cannot give our best students this kind of freedom, because we need a critical mass to support the baby-sitting functions for the poor performers.

Our school system just now started a personal study system for top students, it is run up the street in an unused shopping mall.

The top students love it, and the personal study system is affiliated with the regular high school, so kids can still go to the football games and dances.

We have another high school called University High, but there the students just go to Fresno State College and take college classes, which, for undergraduate study are at the advanced high school level anyway. This school is in the top 50 nationwide.

The key to education success is to separate the poor performing families, and let the teachers union babysit them, while the best performers get away from traditional babysitting school and traditional government serves union or teacher unions.
Posted by: MattYoung on December 10, 2008

Matt, go to www.change.gov and tell Pres-Elect Obama about this!

He's said he wants to do education reform and this is a major trend we want to emphasize.

Posted by: MarkH on December 10, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, you are a smart guy.
Don't go into the personal attacks, it doesn't help your case when you call someone "strikingly dim-witted", it just makes you seem almost petty.
You call out various right wing figures (correctly, in my opinion) for their personal, trivial attacks on public figures. Don't drop to their level.

Posted by: GregY on December 10, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

"I am simply appalled at your remark. We're not a poor country. We can afford to educate our kids, all of them, well."

dr2chase: You ever tried to teach the youth of America? The overwhelming majority of those cited by Matt Young are not disabled, nor are they mentally deficient. They can do it, but the reality is they just don't care to learn anything. Period. Ask any teacher. Behavioral issues, stemming from uncaring parents and shitty environments, are what often makes it impossible for kids, gifted or otherwise, have a happy and productive day at school. One bad kid can spoil an entire classroom.

Yes, we indeed can afford to educate all of our children well. But the problem is that many of our children do not wish to be educated. They are hard-core illiterates and they like themselves the way they are. That we expect people making $30-40K per year to be mom and dad and otherwise reach these kids is a serious problem for our society. And so long as you repeat the sing-song, tra-la-la verses of the kumbaya movements, you, too, are part of the problem. Why do you think 50% of new teachers leave the profession within five years? And why so many veterans are so burned out?

Teachers simply don't make enough money to have to deal with criminals and delinquents on a daily basis. Plus decent, hard-working and intelligent kids have only a limited window to learn. A kid gets one shot at Algebra 1, the building block for higher math. Tell me how dealing with society's losers is part of either a teacher's or a student's job description.

Posted by: Nixon Did It on December 10, 2008 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

>So the "health savings accounts" idea is where people get less insurance coverage right? That should be especially popular.


Teh Stupid ensconsed in HSA's is amazing, it is an unnoticed pinnacle of Washington Consensus idiocy. Everybody I know that has them hates them, and even my total wingnut accountant thinks they are crap.

Posted by: doesn't matter on December 11, 2008 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

I'd like to second the earlier complaint about characterizing Pence as someone who:

"has a tendency to be strikingly dim-witted"

To me, that line is evidence that Steve Benen is strikingly dim-witted! Pence is alot of things but stupid he ain't!

Since I've read enough of Benen to know that he is not in fact dim-witted my guess is the fact that Pence has silver hair and is from Indiana triggered some kind of Dan Quayle response in him. But it'd be a mistake to underestimate Pence as he is well-spoken, persuasive, and on the rise as a power in the GOP. Seeing him as he truly is will be the best way to beat back his agenda. Characterizing him as some sort of doofus cartoon character on the other hand won't accomplish a thing.

Posted by: Curt M on December 11, 2008 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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