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Tilting at Windmills

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July 16, 2010

THE PROBLEM WITH SHORT MEMORIES.... Given all the public confusion, it's sometimes surprising President Obama's approval rating isn't lower. Take this tidbit from the latest Pew Research report.

Only about a third of Americans (34%) know that the government's bailout of banks and financial institutions was enacted under the Bush administration. Nearly half (47%) incorrectly say that the Troubled Asset Relief Program -- widely known as TARP -- was signed into law by President Obama.

I guess the frequent Republican complaints about "bailouts" led much of the public to not only forget what year TARP passed, but also forget who supported it.

For the record, the financial industry bailout passed in October 2008. It was requested by a conservative Republican administration (George W. Bush and Dick Cheney). It was enthusiastically endorsed by the House Republican leadership (John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Roy Blunt), the Senate Republican leadership (Mitch McConnell and Jon Kyl), both members of the Republican presidential ticket (John McCain and Sarah Palin), and assorted, high-profile conservative voices (Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck).

At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot less than 34% of Americans knew this, too.

Is it any wonder Republican attack ads routinely try to exploit public confusion? The GOP assumes voters have short memories, and under the circumstances, that's not a bad assumption.

Steve Benen 4:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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As discouraging as it is to admit it, this country is chock full of 'low information' voters. The kind of dopes who vote for Republicans. I'm not sure the media or the Democrats can crack the force field of stupid that surrounds these willfully stupid nitwits. People who make $300 a week and think the GOP speaks for them.

Posted by: Nick on July 16, 2010 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

We ALL have the Lamestreet Media for this . Will Durant once said that, "education is a progressive study of our ignorance".

We are not being educated by our mass media with fact. Nauseating...

Posted by: evio on July 16, 2010 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

It is not a nation of confusion, it is a nation of narcissistic stupidity. And it is that underlying stupidity that the Corporate Media so easily manipulates via it's concocted 'story lines' and made 'narratives'. And that gets reduced to either sound bites, or pathetic slogans that the stupid, fat/ obese, and narcissistic American 'believes' to be the 'truth'.

Posted by: blue on July 16, 2010 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

This short-term memory problem also applies to the $1.3Trillion deficit which Republicans and Teabaggers did not give a sh!t about until January 20, 2009 and disavow all knowledge that in the run up to the war in Iraq and the push for tax cuts - Deficits Didn't Matter - this huge burden just appeared out of nowhere on a Democrat was sworn in.

Posted by: bcinaz on July 16, 2010 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP assumes voters have short memories, and under the circumstances, that's not a bad assumption.
=-=-=-=-=-=

And they also assume that Our Nation's Greatest Journalists will never point this out, and under the circumstances, they're entirely justified in that one too.

Posted by: Fleas correct the era on July 16, 2010 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Oh please, enough with this "voters is stoopid" act, Steve.

It's your Democrats who have failed to rally and rail against TARP from the very beginning.

They've let the Tea Party corral the anger directed the bailouts instead of taking advantage of that themselves.

Bad policy and bad politics. Bad politicians.

Bad bad bad bad bad.

The only stupid one here are the elected Democrats who don't seem to know who or what to get angry at and have failed to do the job that they were elected to do.

Posted by: Observer on July 16, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

"It's your Democrats who have failed to rally and rail against TARP from the very beginning."

Or perhaps you're just not paying attention. Perhaps you're assuming that since the MSM and the beltway villagers don't report it, it doesn't happen.

Posted by: Shade Tail on July 16, 2010 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

People can barely remember what happened yesterday. 2008? forget about it...;-)

As for the TARP, its hard to hit repubs with this as banks have actually paid back a lot of the money. Now the fed and/or treasury buying trillions in trash assets, that is another story.

Posted by: beyond left on July 16, 2010 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Slightly OT:
re: The Deficit-If the extension of unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed negatively impacts the deficit, how does the extension of tax cuts to the wealthy impact the deficit? If the extension of unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed negatively impacts the deficit, how does the extension of "emergency war funding" impact the deficit?
Which are the apples and which are the oranges? I'm sure that it will be brought to our attention that this is apples and oranges, and we are missing the distinction between the two.

The other question I asked yesterday, somewhere, is: How, specifically, does the extension of the tax cuts to the wealthy increase "good job" growth so the long-term unemployed are no longer in need of their benefits? As I understand it, most big employers, those with lots of employees and jobs, are conservative and/or Republican. So, why are they not providing jobs for the unemployed with their tax savings?

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on July 16, 2010 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans are good at advertising and (mis)communication. Democrats spend their time discussing issues. It's time to advertise!

Posted by: Paul Siegel on July 16, 2010 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican Party survives by following this truism, articulated by Mark Twain; "A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on!"

Posted by: Sam Simple on July 16, 2010 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, and how many know that Dick Cheney said "Reagan taught us deficits don't matter" or that Reagan himself gets only a 40% score on the teaparty's putative Reaganism purity test? It reminds me of all those times Fix Noose would put "D" under the name of a Republican in trouble. Speaking of Fix - I think it's time for a sample customer to sue them for false advertising (about themselves.) Forget if it would win, it would expose them to scrutiny and the discovery process would be a gas.

BTW the Teabaglicans constant complaining about the deficit is inconsistent with their tax cut philosophy. We can't do both at the same time, even if Regan and Cheney taught us we could.

Posted by: Neil B on July 16, 2010 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

It's called brainwashing. All the GOP misinformation repeated over and over is for the sole purpose of brainwashing all Americans who are easily susceptible to the brainwashing. Any one who watches only Faux News is easily brainwashed.

Posted by: Bonnie on July 16, 2010 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Is it any wonder Republican attack ads routinely try to exploit public confusion? The GOP assumes voters have short memories, and under the circumstances, that's not a bad assumption.

I don't blame Republican politicians for this. Politicians lie and distort in order to get a elected as a matter of course. Republicans are very good at it but they are hardly unique.

No the blame lies squarely with a media environment that refuses to police lies (especially Republican lies). When the MSN treats all cliams as equally valid in the name of 'balance' than the best liars win. And right now that's Republicans.

I hear a lot of pundits and reporters equate the fiscal stimulus (passed in Feb 09) with the bank bailout (Oct 08). And even worse I can't recall a single instance in the past year when someone on the MSN actually stopped and EXPLAINED the difference between the stimulus package and TARP.

How is the general public supposed to know the difference when the people whose job it is to explain those differences abdicate their responsibilities?

Posted by: thorin-1 on July 16, 2010 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

The really pathetic thing is that the dems will not do anything to fight the misinformation. While the entire GOP will go on to rail against bank bailouts, the deficit, and tarp, the dems will choose to ignore it in the court of public opinion. Their policies may be right but they'll turn the keys over to the GOP if they don't reinforce with their messaging. Every dem that gets it front of the press should have a list of 4 or 5 things that they recite to counter the misinformation.

Posted by: njrich on July 16, 2010 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

We ALL have the Lamestreet Media for this . Will Durant once said that, "education is a progressive study of our ignorance".

We are not being educated by our mass media with fact. Nauseating...
Posted by: evio on July 16, 2010 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

It is not a nation of confusion, it is a nation of narcissistic stupidity. And it is that underlying stupidity that the Corporate Media so easily manipulates via it's concocted 'story lines' and made 'narratives'. And that gets reduced to either sound bites, or pathetic slogans that the stupid, fat/ obese, and narcissistic American 'believes' to be the 'truth'.
Posted by: blue

oh sure. the msm failed to report that george w. bush was "elected" president in 2001 and reelected in 2004 and served in the office until January 2009. In the fall of 2008, they consistently referred to Senator Obama as President Obama in late September and throughout October as the economy melted down. After the November election even Fox News was calling him President Obama, not President-elect Obama. George W. Bush was rarely ever mentioned, and then only in the context that he was the son of George H.W. Bush.

I hate to be an apologist for anyone, and sure, the MSM has committed its share of sins. But maybe you ought to lay the blame for this on those who deserve it; THE PUBLIC!

By the way, remember 1) Senator/Candidate/President-elect Obama embraced TARP 2) The banking portion of the program is projected to turn a PROFIT of $47 billion or there abouts for the government. I read that story in the Lame Street Media.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on July 16, 2010 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Elephants never forget????
Seems the GOP had better start looking for a new symbol, because they can't seem to remember anything that they did prior to January 20, 2009.

How about a dumbbell? That might work.

But, Pinnoccio might be more appropriate.

Posted by: MrsD on July 16, 2010 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Obama never campaigned against TARP in that final month before he was elected. Obama was 100% in favor of the TARP bank bailouts. Suggesting that voters don't remember whether TARP was Bush's bailout program or Obama's is splitting hairs.

It's certainly not like Obama did anything much to slow down TARP bailout payments to the big banks that wrecked the economy. Obama was as pro-TARP as Bush was. The TARP $700 billion bailout program was a Bush/Obama program. Voters that think TARP is an Obama program are as correct as those that think it was Bush.

Posted by: NealB on July 16, 2010 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

What people forget is that TARP worked. The economy didn't melt all the way down. We are getting our money back with interest.

What hurts Obama is his unwillingness to hold the banksters responsible.

Timmie Geitner and Larry Summers just couldn't bear to see their bankster buds suffer. Hell they didn't want their feelings hurt.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 16, 2010 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

Dude!, I know Liberals who are confused on this point. If I am President Obama I should think I would take on this misinformation issue directly. No one else will set the record straight.

Oh, and by the way many think the TARP program and the Stimulus were the same thing! Liberals too.

Posted by: latim on July 16, 2010 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Shade Tail,

FWIW, the reason the MSM doesn't "report" on things is because the elected Democratic don't pipe up.

The Repubs own the messaging because they all sing from the same playbook.

For example, for TARP, no one important, not Pelosi, not Obama, not Reid, not Schumer, *no one* has said a bad thing about it on TV.

Literally not one of the important people have made it an issue.

The few who do, the establishment Dems make sure to try and marginalize them.

For example, when Grayson was called the Repubs on their HCR stand you will notice the Rep Weiner piped up about him being "a few fries short of a happy meal" or something like that.

Since about 1999 the Democratic Party in America has to be about the very worst major political party in the Western world. Even when they win, they lose.

Posted by: Observer on July 16, 2010 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

The House voted down TARP on Sept, 29th 2008 because it lacked accountablity, transparency or any standards about how the money should be used. For instance they wanted assurances that lending would occur.

Barack Obama used his status as the Democraatic presidential nominee with the members of th eHouse to pass the awful Republican version of TARP.

So TARP is Barack Obama's responsibilty. He never in any way used the leverage the Demcorats in the House had given him to actually get a bill that helped everyday Americans instead of millionaire bankers.

He insisted they vote for Bush's bill. So it is now his bill as well.

Posted by: debcoop on July 17, 2010 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK

Debcoop if an asteroid was headed for Earth with a strong possibility of blowing the planet up and we sent a rocket up to it and blew it up and averted disaster there would still be people saying well it didn't hit us what was the big deal.

Posted by: Gandalf on July 17, 2010 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

Bush consulted the Obama transition team regarding the details of TARP, and proceeded with their approval.

So Obama owns TARP as much as Republicans do. But anyone who relies upon the likes of Steve Benen for their information would of course not know this.

It is a bit ripe for this sower of disinformation to decry public "confusion".

Posted by: a on July 17, 2010 at 3:45 AM | PERMALINK

Hint....most American's are bloody idiots....probably still couldn't find Afghanistan or Iraq on a map or tell you Karzai or Nouri Al-Maliki are.

Stupid voters = stupid politicians = country going down drain....

Posted by: mfw13 on July 17, 2010 at 6:06 AM | PERMALINK

"So Obama owns TARP as much as Republicans do." That's actually true, but beside the point. The problem is that too many amurcans don't understand the very recent history of a catastrophe averted. That it was supported as a necessary evil, reluctantly, by both parties and signed into law by Bush is historically correct. That Hank Paulson has said that the republicans were intellectually/ideologically incapable of understanding the situation and contributing in any meaningful way is also historically correct. That the Obama team improved the administration of the TARP over the indifferent Bush admin management is also historically correct.

Finally, that TARP, while it sucked, was necessary is clearly true. There should be no stain attached to supporting this legislation, because it clearly prevented catastrophe.

Posted by: wvng on July 17, 2010 at 7:53 AM | PERMALINK

GOP is shameless to profess outrage over their own initiatives carried over to Obama administration.

But given that the bailout was brainchild of Paulson, Geithner, and Bernanke, and modus operandi and key personnel didn't change under Obama, nor did he dissociate himself from those policies, it's hardly surprising that voters associate those policies with him.

Posted by: curmudgeonlyTroll on July 17, 2010 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

This tracks with my belief that the GOP loves to run against Congress. Day or night, winter or summer, election year or not, they will run against Congress -- even if they run Congress.

Posted by: lakefxdan on July 17, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

But isn't the administration touting TARP as a net plus for the federal budget? And isn't the mainstream media parroting their half truth that it has been repaid?

And wasn't it a Democrat controlled congress that passed the TARP bill?

Was it not the Obama administration that decided to find new uses for repaid or unused TARP funds?

See: http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/70975-white-house-unclear-on-how-to-use-tarp-funds

Obama told reporters in the Oval Office Monday that TARP, passed during the end of former President George W. Bush's administration, "turned out to be much cheaper than we had expected, although not cheap."

Posted by: Greg on July 18, 2010 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

How many people know that a majority of Dems in a majority Dem Congress voted for TARP?

How many people know that a minority of Republicans voted for TARP?

How many people know that the majority of Republicans voted against TARP ... against their own president?

It's all available info in the Congressional Record, but of course, it was too much trouble to mention the vote counts yea/nay in Washington Monthly.

Oh, and both McCain and Obama suspended their campaigns to vote yea on TARP.

Dems 38-yea/10-nay Senate 173-yea/63-nay House
Reps 35-yea-15-nay Senate 83-yea/108-nay House

How many people know the names of who voted for TARP and who didn't? Most tea partiers know.

Posted by: Lorianne on July 19, 2010 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

Yep it's the same old Republican ploy...keep the truth buried as deep as possible, tell as many lies as you can, suggest and implement nothing and protect the upper 2%. If you can create enough fear in enough people who will believe just about anything you can win elections. Let's hope once again the intelligent, the young and educated can hold off the hoards of easily impressed people who never understand the Republicans are never for the working middle class. As FDR once said: "It is the duty of democratic leaders to make the nation understand that Republican rule means government by selfish interests and powerfully entrenched individuals"

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Posted by: Roxane Halliburton on January 1, 2011 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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