Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 25, 2009

THEY STILL DON'T GET IT.... A couple of weeks ago, Thomas Friedman had a pretty good column about, among other things, Republican leaders' inability to appreciate the seriousness of the times. The GOP, Friedman said, "behaves as if it would rather see the country fail than Barack Obama succeed."

Rush Limbaugh, the de facto G.O.P. boss, said so explicitly, prompting John McCain to declare about President Obama to Politico: "I don't want him to fail in his mission of restoring our economy." The G.O.P. is actually debating whether it wants our president to fail. Rather than help the president make the hard calls, the G.O.P. has opted for cat calls. It would be as if on the morning after 9/11, Democrats said they wanted no part of any war against Al Qaeda -- "George Bush, you're on your own."

Two weeks later, Republican leaders still don't get it.

It's OK for Republicans to want President Obama to fail if they think he's jeopardizing the country, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told members of his political party Tuesday night.

Jindal described the premise of the question -- "Do you want the president to fail?" -- as the "latest gotcha game" being perpetrated by Democrats against Republicans.

"Make no mistake: Anything other than an immediate and compliant, 'Why no sir, I don't want the president to fail,' is treated as some sort of act of treason, civil disobedience or political obstructionism," Jindal said at a political fundraiser attended by 1,200 people. "This is political correctness run amok."

It's not just Jindal.

Count former GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson among the growing chorus of prominent Republicans who want President Obama's policies to fail. [...]

Thompson told CNN's John Roberts Wednesday that he agreed with some of his fellow Republicans who have said publicly they do not want the president's policies to be successful.

"I want his policies that I believe take us in the wrong direction to fail," Thompson told Roberts on CNN's American Morning.

In the midst of multiple generational challenges, some of the Republican Party's most prominent voices continue to explore whether they can get away with rooting for the president's failure -- a debate initiated two months ago by a right-wing, drug-addled radio host, who seems to enjoy a little too much influence over the direction of one of the nation's major political parties.

There's a real policy debate underway at the big kids' table. If Republicans want to participate, they're going to have to get serious for a change.

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (36)

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Comments

The Republicans want Obama to succeed ONLY if he does so in a manner that they find to be politically (idelolgically) correct. Success of an ideology that conflicts with theirs is unthinkable, and to be prevented at any cost.

This is patriotism?

Posted by: Okie on March 25, 2009 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Good. At least they're up front about it, so when it does succeed, their political careers (and the GOP) are FINISHED.

Sometimes, the other side is just WRONG and no amount of "bipartisanship" will make it any different. Hopefully the Dems will figure that out as well.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 25, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

This really isn't a big deal. I wanted Bush's policies of detainment and torture to fail. I wanted Greenspan's policy of deregulation to fail, and much sooner and less spectacularly that it did. It seems like every other post here is about how stupid the GOP is--why don't we talk about something we can learn from?

Posted by: House Whisperer on March 25, 2009 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

So ... when the GOP is in charge and liberals disagree with, say, invading a country that posed no threat ... or turning a $500 billion surplus into a $500 billion deficit ... or giving the rich $1.2 trillion in tax cuts ... and when those liberals actually propose alternatives ... they're shouted down as American-hating Islamofascistloving traitors who should be sent to Gitmo.

But when Democrats are in charge and try solving the greatest economic disaster in 70 years (that was created by GOP policies) ... or our ruinous health care system (which the GOP has done nothing to fix) ... or inadequate education (which the GOP likes because a stupid populace is an easily-manipulated populace) ... it's okay to not only disagree with those policies, but to also constantly wish for their failure ... all while offering absolutely NOTHING as an alternative.

It's almost as if these clowns think all of history started Jan. 20, 2009 ...

Posted by: Mark D on March 25, 2009 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Press the ReRushlickins on just what they mean by "fail", not just their use of the term per se. Then work in the angle of the interdependence of success of "his polices" and "the survival and health of our economy, our environment, our health-care and retirement system, our use of energy, success in the Middle East, our standing and power in the world..."

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ on March 25, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

House Whisperer,

It's subtle, to be sure, but there is a difference.

Expounding on your example of the Bush Administration's use of torture. The stated goal was to make America safer. I don't think you hoped Bush would fail to do that, but I do think you hoped he would use less vile tactics.

Obama's stated goal is to fix the economic crisis. It's one thing to disagree with the path he takes to get there; it's quite another to hope he is unsuccessful in his attempt to do so, and yet even another to actively work against that goal for electoral gain.

Posted by: doubtful on March 25, 2009 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see what the big mystery is here. Teh GOP is tied to cultural confrontation, supply side economics and monetary policy. If Obama succeeds teh GOP has nothing left to stand on and they are done. If he fails, they get new life.

Posted by: Jeff In Ohio on March 25, 2009 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Depends on how you define failure, or for that matter, success.

Some would say George didn't fail. He was successful at getting away with shredding the Constitution.

I'd say its a "failacy" to take the Repugnacans seriously.


Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 25, 2009 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Not that I would wish them any harm of any kind, but I sincerely hope that Thompson's, Limbaugh's and Jindal's hearts fail.

Crankily yours,

Posted by: The New York Crank on March 25, 2009 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, this is the gestalt of the debate. What does the GOP want to look like in 10 years? It's important in a democracy to have lively debate about the issues our country faces, but the GOP party seems to have leaders that act like 12 year olds (actually, 12 year olds are more mature than the GOP behaves).

I heard on Rachel Maddow the same thing - where is a strong party of "intellectual" conservative debate? I think there is a serious brain drain after Reagan and Nixon, etc. because it became more about "using" the government for short term political gain - just as Wall Street used monopoly money for short term economic gain - just as home purchasers used homes as short term investment gain. All of these blew up.

Without LONG-term strategy, nothing will effective. If you go searching for parallels (TWITTER) - everything is for an ADD society. Where are the deep thinkers of our time? That's why people gravitated towards Obama - he seems to have a long view. Are there other role models for this new paradigm shift of nuance and intelligent debate?

Posted by: Elsie on March 25, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

It would also help if the Republicans could come up with any ideas of their own other than the exact same fucking things we've been doing for the past decade. It's one thing to want a plan to fail, and it's another thing entirely to put all your energy into stopping someone else's plan when your own plan has already been tried and failed miserably.

Posted by: Stephen Stralka on March 25, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK
some of the Republican Party's most prominent voices continue to explore whether they can get away with rooting for the president's failure

And that's part of their problem. When Bobby The Exorcist Jindal and Fred Slightly Less Grumpy Old Man Thompson are prominent voices of a political party, the political party is almost over.

Speaking of which, has anyone heard from Michael Steele lately?

Posted by: The Answer WAS Orange on March 25, 2009 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Unless this entire group of people shares a self-acknowledged death wish, the only possible conclusion to draw is that they mistakenly believe that the country will survive the failure of Obama's policies.

They have not even begun to accept the depth of the crisis and what's at stake here. GOP denial during the Bush administration was child's play compared to this.

Posted by: shortstop on March 25, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Jindal: "Anything other than an immediate and compliant, 'Why no sir, I don't want the president to fail,' is treated as some sort of act of treason, civil disobedience or political obstructionism . . ."

Because, clearly, it is.

Posted by: Jon on March 25, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Just a massively repetitive, reactionary and reflexive response of whining pessimistic oddballs
who supported the chronic failures of George W Bush --and who now are unable to come to grips
with the transition to democratic leadership.
And, yes, they are unpatriotic in their anti-working families obstructionist strategies as they step in line to madman Limbaugh's so called authority. Or is it his stranglehold on them?
And they look so out of touch in their cameos of naysaying on the cable news shows...
privileged republicans too used to treating America as their private country club.

Posted by: consider wisely always on March 25, 2009 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

I think there is a serious brain drain after Reagan and Nixon, etc. because it became more about "using" the government for short term political gain [...]

Now you owe me a new cup of coffee AND a new keyboard.

Posted by: inkadu on March 25, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Oddly, perhaps, I find this all to be a non-issue. Did I "want" GWB to succeed? Well, what would that have meant? Did I think his policies would prove to be good for the country? (No.) Did I want him to be able to implement his policy preferences? (Again, no.) Does that mean I wanted him to fail?

Similarly, what I think I hear the Republicans trying to say is that they think BHO's policy choices are wrong, and they don't want to see them implemented. Why is that the wrong thing for them to say?

But what they need to do is articulate something approaching an alternative. And--slash spending during a severe economic downturn, or cut taxes for the wealthy, or return to the gold standard, or start another war--none of that counts as an alternative.

Posted by: Donald A. Coffin on March 25, 2009 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

When your act is as threadbare as the Republicans' is, your ass is bound to show.

The Republicans' meager hopes for the future are absolutely dependent on Obama's failure. They will work toward it at every opportunity--real or imagined.

Posted by: Boolaboola on March 25, 2009 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama doesn't fail, then the socialists will have won.

Posted by: DLB on March 25, 2009 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

If they want him to fail and think his policies will make us fail, shouldn't they just vote for his policies rather than try to block them?

Posted by: ben on March 25, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

"If Republicans want to participate, they're going to have to get serious for a change".

And if pigs want to fly, they'll have to grow wings.

Posted by: JL on March 25, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

There is a real policy debate underway at the big kid's table. Problem is ... too many people of both parties and the many ideologies are playing "he did it, no, he did it". Certainly, not worthy discussion for the big kid's table.


Posted by: g on March 25, 2009 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Expounding on your example of the Bush Administration's use of torture. The stated goal was to make America safer. I don't think you hoped Bush would fail to do that, but I do think you hoped he would use less vile tactics.

Yes, but the analogy fails because while the stated goal was to make America safer, the actual goal was simply -- to torture. They knew that torture wouldn't make America safer -- in fact, they had reason to know it would make us less safe -- but they went ahead with it anyway because torture, not safety, was always their real priority.

Posted by: Stefan on March 25, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

If Republicans want to participate, they're going to have to get serious for a change.

That's just it, though: this is the GOP getting serious. Seriously- they're 100% committed to the notion that Obama + the Democrats fail.

Country First my ass; Country be Damned would be a more accurate motto for the GOP.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on March 25, 2009 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

If they want him to fail and think his policies will make us fail, shouldn't they just vote for his policies rather than try to block them?
Posted by: ben

Good point, Ben.

Posted by: Dale on March 25, 2009 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

For a long time I've felt that one problem (althought it's a strength) for Democrats has been that they often deal in subtleties and ideas that need to be "explained" while the Republicans just sloganeer to their base. Well I just realized that Republicans are having to explain this stance of theirs. The subtlety arises from its basic idiocy but still they are in the position Dems used to be in a lot.

Posted by: Dale on March 25, 2009 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Is it so hard for them to just say "I think the President's plans WILL fail because his policies are wrong" ?

That said it's not hurting them much according to the polling I've seen. Most people don't seem to care what they are saying.

Posted by: MNPundit on March 25, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

This is a non-issue. When Bush wanted the policy of invading Iraq, I wanted him to fail to implement that policy. When Bush wanted to cut taxes, I wanted him to fail to achieve that tax cut.

Republicans want Obama to fail to pass a stimulus bill, to fail to pass comprehensive health care. to fail to leave Iraq. They are allowed, in a democracy, to have opinions and wish their opinions would succeed to be implemented.

Of course, we think Obama's policies are right, but that is not the same as claiming (without real evidence) that Repubs are openly and deliberately hoping that the nation collapses.

Posted by: JohnN on March 25, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of which, has anyone heard from Michael Steele lately?
Heh, da man Steele tried to create a new Refunklican party, but ended up being yet another nail in the ReRushlickin' coffin.
See the latest Candorville cartoons for some belated ribbing.

Posted by: Neil B ♣ on March 25, 2009 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

You do yourself no favor by embracing the delusion that the Republicans "don't get it".

They get it.

They get that their role, as bought-and-paid-for shills for America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. is to oppose Obama's policies for governance in the public interest and relentlessly push policies that serve corporate interests to the detriment of the American people.

They get that they have to lie about that.

They get that they have to do whatever they can, and mouth whatever scripted, focus-group-tested, corporate-sponsored talking points are handed to them by their script writers, to try to undermine public support for and confidence in Obama.

They don't go around saying "Obama's policies will hurt America, therefore I hope he fails" because they don't "get it". They say that because it has been focus-group tested and proved effective on their target audience.

If you persist in believing that the Republicans "don't get it", or that they are "confused", or that they are "crazy", and fail to recognize that they are cunning and vicious liars and relentless propagandists, then you have been successfully duped and neutralized in exactly the way the Republicans hoped for.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 25, 2009 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan wrote: "Yes, but the analogy fails because while the stated goal was to make America safer, the actual goal was simply -- to torture."

This suggests the context that is missing from Steve Benen's commentaries on Republicans saying they want Obama to "fail".

According to scripted, focus-group-tested, corporate-sponsored Republican propaganda that is slavishly and robotically believed without question by their Ditto-Head base, the stated goal of Obama's policy proposals is to improve the economy, make America safer, etc. ... but the actual goal is to destroy capitalism and Christianity and impose totalitarian Islamic socialism and a global currency mandated by the Chinese communists at the UN under the jackbooted rule of a gang of Chicago ghetto street thugs.

When Leader Limbaugh and other lesser Republicans say they want Obama to "fail", they are talking to an audience that believes Obama is a liar and that his actual goal is to destroy America. That's the supposed actual agenda the Republicans are telling their target audience they want to "fail".

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 25, 2009 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

It's not that the Republicans want Obama's policies to fail so that they can implement their own. It's that the John Galt Republicans believe that there should be no policies.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 25, 2009 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Again with the, "drug-addled" comment. Call him a wretch, call him a fat loudmouth, call him what you will, but fixating on his addiction recovery is really below decency.

Its like saying, "democrat party," and then snickering to yourself in the back of the classroom. Really Steve, you need to grow up.

Posted by: Jon Karak on March 25, 2009 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Call him a wretch, call him a fat loudmouth, call him what you will, but fixating on his addiction recovery is really below decency. -- Jon Karak, @15:20

Yeah, he's all that.And more, bcause the brain damage done before the "recovery" seems to be permanent. He sounds... How shall I put it, without saying "totally loony"... He sounds... drug-addled.

Posted by: exlibra on March 25, 2009 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

No you don't get it. Its a calculated strategy to make it acceptable for the right to demonize Obama and stop his progressive agenda. I met a close friend yesterday, who stated I voted for Obama but I'm worried he's going socialistic. If you repeat a lie enough it becomes a truth to many.

Posted by: aline on March 25, 2009 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Get serious, and also learn to differentiate between these two statements: "I don't think this policy will succeed" and "I want this policy to fail." Big, big difference.

Posted by: Algernon on March 26, 2009 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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