Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 16, 2010

THE RATIONALE FOR KEEPING AN AGENDA SECRET.... Jonah Goldberg argued this week that the "party of no" strategy has been a great success for Republicans, but suggested it's time for the GOP to "call Obama's bluff and offer a real choice." By actually presenting a policy agenda, the GOP could achieve "a real mandate to be something more than 'not-Obama.'" That sounds about right to me.

So, is there any chance congressional Republicans will take Goldberg's advice and tell voters what they'd do with power? Not so much.

Yesterday, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) endorsed the notion of the GOP giving "certain specifics" about what the party supports, but he doesn't want to see his party go into too many details.

"...I don't think we have to lay out a complete agenda, from top to bottom, because then we would have the national mainstream media jumping on every point trying to make that a campaign issue."

Heaven forbid.

As King sees it, Republicans could present an agenda, giving the electorate a sense of how the GOP would govern, but the fear is that the party's ideas might become "a campaign issue."

Perhaps King doesn't fully understand the words he's using here. If congressional Republicans have actual policy ideas -- a dubious proposition, to be sure -- they can offer them to voters as an alternative to the status quo. The media might scrutinize those ideas, but the GOP should welcome the chance to talk about the direction they'd take the country if given the chance. It's what elections are for. A party's ideas should be "campaign issues"; that's the point of campaigns.

It's about having the courage of one's convictions. Deliberately hiding one's ideas for fear of examination is not only cowardice, it's indicative of a party that suspects its own beliefs would be rejected by the public.

Of course, this isn't just about King. Note that would-be Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sat down with the Washington Post recently, and refused to give any details about how Republicans would govern.

It's not a mystery why -- GOP proposals would likely cost the party dearly if the public got a chance to consider them -- but that's hardly a good excuse.

Steve Benen 12:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Comments

Almost as bad as a lack of press conferences!

Posted by: PR on July 16, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

In politics, apparently, while you can't beat someone with no one, you can beat something with nothing -- and bright shiny objects.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 16, 2010 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP has already given us their campaign issue: "Billions for the rich not one more cent for the starving."

Posted by: freelunch on July 16, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

A campaign about nothing? Perhaps I should try that...

Posted by: NTodd on July 16, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

So, even though Obama is ruining the country in a million ways, it would be unwise for Republicans to tell us how they would govern instead.

OK, got it.

Posted by: beejeez on July 16, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Flipping the Party of No on its head

We know what they have voted against...
It is all recent history.
That's why we call them the Party of No.

But I am curious:
If you track back in time...
What where the last half dozen bills that Republicans voted for en masse?
What did they say yes to?
What gave them a group hard-on?

Was there last attempt at governing and co-governing TARP?
And before that?
And before that?

Perhaps we should shine some light on "yes" to better illuminate "no."

Posted by: koreyel on July 16, 2010 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP has already given us their campaign issue: "Billions for the rich not one more cent for the starving."
---
Yeah, Obama kept Mr. Sachs from dying of hunger. And poor Fannie and Freddie were saved from starvation through the help of Mr. Frank.

Posted by: Icare on July 16, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Boehner had the nerve to have an op-ed bearing his name sent to the Detroit News yesterday (link below), and the conservative paper printed it--in time for Obama's visit to Michigan to talk about job creation (400 new jobs to be created at one battery plant, among many other bright prospects). No specific policies cited by Boehner but several baldfaced lies and some name-calling--that slick trick (not) of putting forth BS and counting on people being uninformed enough to believe it.

Here in Michigan we're hurting but hanging in, and he and his cohorts are doing their damnedest to mislead people about facts and GOP culpability in giving the state a ten-year-plus-long recession, not to mention disastrous conditions across the land. Heaven help us all!

http://www.detnews.com/article/20100715/OPINION01/7150336/1008/opinion01/U.S.-Rep-John-Boehner--Spending-spree-won-t-fix-our-ailing-economy

Posted by: Giselle on July 16, 2010 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Here in Michigan we're hurting but hanging in, and he and his cohorts are doing their damnedest to mislead people about facts and GOP culpability in giving the state a ten-year-plus-long recession, not to mention disastrous conditions across the land. Heaven help us all!"

I blame the Republican Governor and the Republicans that have run Detriot for years!

Posted by: Ann Arbor on July 16, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

It's not a mystery why -- GOP proposals would likely cost the party dearly if the public got a chance to consider them -- but that's hardly a good excuse.

It's a wonderful excuse. Nobody's going to call their bluff on it, and no one's going to punish them at the ballot box. Literally nothing else matters.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 16, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

The logical conclusion any voter would draw about the GOP is that they represent the "haves". This isn't recent history, needless to say. So, their campaign must necessarily enlarge the circle of the electorate to make "haves" a majority. That part is tricky. Getting people living in trailers, West Virginia, exurbanite ghost towns, and the Gulf Coast means creating bogeymen who want to steal from the "haves". Say, Black Panthers and Democrats. That, in a nutshell, is their campaign strategy. Everything else, say policy details, are the fine print that bores voters. I'm guessing they'll win and govern incoherently, which is what they traditionally do.

Posted by: walt on July 16, 2010 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK
I'm guessing they'll win and govern incoherently, which is what they traditionally do.

The statutes on larceny are anything but incoherent.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina@gmail.com on July 16, 2010 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

"The logical conclusion any voter would draw about the GOP is that they represent the "haves". This isn't recent history, needless to say. So, their campaign must necessarily enlarge the circle of the electorate to make "haves" a majority. That part is tricky. Getting people living in trailers, West Virginia, exurbanite ghost towns, and the Gulf Coast means creating bogeymen who want to steal from the "haves". Say, Black Panthers and Democrats. That, in a nutshell, is their campaign strategy. Everything else, say policy details, are the fine print that bores voters. I'm guessing they'll win and govern incoherently, which is what they traditionally do."

Democrats represent the poor folk with nothing who have the initials like GS and UAW or with the names Fannie and Freddie. A Democrat was never elected to represent WV. And I've never run into a Democrat who hasn't read health care or financial bills clsoely. Nothing like the inherent close reading of bills by Dodd or Conyers.

Posted by: Trew on July 16, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Boehner had the nerve to have an op-ed bearing his name sent to the Detroit News yesterday (link below), and the conservative paper printed it--in time for Obama's visit to Michigan to talk about job creation (400 new jobs to be created at one battery plant, among many other bright prospects). No specific policies cited by Boehner but several baldfaced lies and some name-calling--that slick trick (not) of putting forth BS and counting on people being uninformed enough to believe it.

Here in Michigan we're hurting but hanging in, and he and his cohorts are doing their damnedest to mislead people about facts and GOP culpability in giving the state a ten-year-plus-long recession, not to mention disastrous conditions across the land. Heaven help us all!

http://www.detnews.com/article/20100715/OPINION01/7150336/1008/opinion01/U.S.-Rep-John-Boehner--Spending-spree-won-t-fix-our-ailing-economy

Posted by: Giselle on July 16, 2010 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Olbermann yesterday was clear as a bell--Obama salvaged the state's major industry--automobiles--and the stimulus has funded 16 new factories, mainly for the electric batteries to be used in the new electric cars Detroit is currently readying for market. She says it gave the state 230,000 new jobs, and they no longer have the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

Sounded all right to me.

Posted by: jjm on July 16, 2010 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Obama kept Mr. Sachs from dying of hunger. And poor Fannie and Freddie were saved from starvation through the help of Mr. Frank.

I agree that the Democrats have been bamboozled into pitying the rich, but they don't take money from the poor the way the GOP does.

Posted by: freelunch on July 16, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK
I blame the Republican Governor and the Republicans that have run Detriot for years!

(The "Detriot" spelling is interesting given the city's difficult past. Maybe it was intentional?)

Yes, true--Engler decimated the state, left Granholm with a nearly untenable situation, but she has managed to keep us afloat through economic cataclysm on a global scale, among other challenges.

Bush wouldn't meet with the automakers until the end of his second term, puzzled even some right-wingers in the state. Word was Cheney had disdain for the Big 3 because they dealt with the unions and treated labor as if it mattered. Bush had for a time a not-too-bright energy secretary from the GOP ranks in Michigan.

I repeat: heaven help us all! (And pardon the double posting of my previous comment.)

Posted by: Giselle on July 16, 2010 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

"I agree that the Democrats have been bamboozled into pitying the rich, but they don't take money from the poor the way the GOP does."

So they got suckered! Seriously, the Dems got bamboozled? Sure they did. Cost less than $1 million for one of them to get "bamboozled." That's a bargain. And who can forget the meeting Obama had in SFO with those who needed the care? The press was barred from being inside simply because those rich wouldn't be publicly shamed about their horrid place in life!

Posted by: Icare on July 16, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Vote for us.
Well, what are your intended policies?
We're not going to tell you. Just vote for us.

That would sure convince me.

Posted by: gelfling545 on July 16, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Electorically speaking, it's a GREAT excuse!

Posted by: Jeff on July 16, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

"It's not a mystery why -- GOP proposals would likely cost the party dearly if the public got a chance to consider them -- but that's hardly a good excuse"

And they'll get away with it because thew "Free Liberal Press" won't make it an issue.

Posted by: stevio on July 16, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

That would sure convince me.

What if I guaranteed you, whatever they are, they'll happen to colored people, gays, women, immigrants, and liberals before, and worse, than they happen to you.

(Hey, it's won elections in the past....)

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 16, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Nature abhors a vacuum. If the Republicans won't tell you what they are for, then the Democrats have an obligation to help the voter figure it out. Sharron Angle, Rand Paul and that Toomey fellow in Pennsylvania are all good Republicans. I bet all Republicans stand fot the same things. How about that Ryan fellow. Didn't he come up with some sort of road map. I bet the Democrats could use the published sayings of all those fine Republicans to help voters understand where the Republicans are on the various issues.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 16, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

I've got dibs on the morning of Thursday, October 14th, as the precise time the GOP will announce its "New Contract for America." That way it gets two full days of media coverage without scrutiny and then John McCain can be simulcast on all the Sunday morning talk shows to "explain" it all.

The contract will include:

No gays marrying or joining the military.
No unemployment benefits.
Extended tax cuts for the wealthy.
Something about prayer in schools.
Cut every major public program.
Repeal of ACA.
De-reg of Wall Street.
Drill, baby, drill.
No abortions.
Guns everywhere.
Arizona-like immigration policy.
Cutting diplo-ties with Iran.
Impeachment of Obama.

They can't accomplish any of these. And they won't have an actual plan to execute any of it. But a big-ass net like this will catch a bunch of angry voters. In 1994, the American voter's memory was long enough to actually check to see if Newt's Republicans actually did anything they said they would. This time, no one will care if a goddamned thing gets accomplished at all or not. As long as the "evil" government is shut down.

Posted by: chrenson on July 16, 2010 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Rats. We're going to be deprived of the dynamic bubble graphics!

Vote Republican. Because we said so, damn it!

Posted by: The Answer WAS Orange on July 16, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I think this is a symptom of what the GOP considers important: power, and having it. Maybe it is the flip side of their obsession with thinking that the Dems and the liberal types believe in "Big Government." We just want a government (or a society) that gets good things done. They, on the other hand, don't care about policy. They want, and like, power, and the perks that power brings.

Posted by: Marc in Denver on July 16, 2010 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

well, if the GOP won't tell us their ideas, some smart Dems might want to lay out a few ideas.

"The Republicans want to invade Mexico for its oil."

"The GOP wants to seize seniors's Social Security checks if they're caught sneaking drugs from Canada."

"Mitch McConnell plans to prosecute doctors who prescribe birth control."

And let's see them talk those down.

Posted by: dopey-o on July 16, 2010 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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