Political Animal


July 03, 2011 8:00 AM Deval Patrick’s walk down memory lane

By Steve Benen

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) had an op-ed in the Washington Post the other day, which was largely overlooked. It’s a shame; Patrick’s piece was quite good.

One of the anecdotes he shared at the outset is especially memorable.

At our 25th college reunion in 2003, Grover Norquist — the brain and able spokesman for the radical right — and I, along with other classmates who had been in public or political life, participated in a lively panel discussion about politics. During his presentation, Norquist explained why he believed that there would be a permanent Republican majority in America.

One person interrupted, as I recall, and said, “C’mon, Grover, surely one day a Democrat will win the White House.”

Norquist immediately replied: “We will make it so that a Democrat cannot govern as a Democrat.”

Can there be any doubt that Republicans have embraced this approach wholeheartedly? And that the GOP has largely accomplished what it set out to do?

There was also this summary of recent history.

For nearly a decade, our federal government paid for two wars and a costly prescription drug benefit with borrowed money. Our government paid for the Bush tax cuts with borrowed money. Now, after exhausting the budget surplus left by the Clinton administration, the only spending Republicans are willing to discuss cutting is spending that helps the poor and vulnerable — meaning anything that does not touch the interests of large corporations and the very rich. Last December, Republican hard-liners held hostage benefits for people out of work in exchange for an agreement to extend the Bush tax cuts for those who make a million dollars or more a year. Last month, many of the same lawmakers rallied to protect special tax benefits for oil companies that have made record profits on high gas prices.

Meanwhile, some mom-and-pop stores and college students pay more in taxes than some of our largest corporations. Still, taxes are sin to the hard-liners, though they have difficulty demonstrating a correlation over the past decade between tax cuts and economic growth.

As the Democratic message goes, those two paragraphs aren’t a bad summary.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • c u n d gulag on July 03, 2011 8:13 AM:

    Obama is the best Republican President since Clinton - who was the best since Ike.

    And yeah, I know he got a lot done in his first two years, and I credit him for that, but how different was that agenda from one that Ike might have had?

    Or Nixon, our last Liberal President, for that matter?

    Sure, give Obama a different Senate, and maybe he accomplishes more things, but that's the point, ain't it?

    And it ain't just the Republicans - when you have a useless turd like Ben Nelson sitting there with a "D" next to his name, why would anyone expect anything Liberal to happen?

  • Goldilocks on July 03, 2011 8:18 AM:

    GOP pledge of allegiance to Grover Norquist is the key.

  • Big River Bandido on July 03, 2011 8:39 AM:

    As the Democratic message goes, those two paragraphs aren't a bad summary.

    If that's all of the Democratic message, we're going nowhere. Deval's two paragraphs are but a critique of Republican governance, and the degree to which Republicans own Democrats. If there is a Democratic message, it is yet to be extrapolated from those paragraphs: this is no way to run a nation.

    Sadly, Democrats won't make that case.

  • kevo on July 03, 2011 9:02 AM:

    The Republicans have shown Democrats many a shiny object since the days of the Great Prevaricator!

    It does become tiresome watching Democrats doing stupid human tricks for wryly Republicans, and yet, the American electorate plays a key roll of ignorance in this sordid game we call American democracy. If the American Middle and Working classes could only see their interests and vote for them, they'd be less apt to follow the shiny conflictual cultural relics into the ballot booth.

    The Republican party, then, would have less a chance of being a permanent majority from its minority enclave! -Kevo

  • CDW on July 03, 2011 12:01 PM:

    This is so depressing. I hope Obama is the last Democratic president until we can get one who will fight. Otherwise, the Dems will continue to get the blame for Republicans' failed policies and the country will never recover. It's time the cons took over the entire government for as long as it takes for American voters to see reality staring them in the face.

  • Joe Friday on July 03, 2011 12:01 PM:

    Speaking of walks down memory lane, Kasich was on Face the Nation, and apparently he was following the yellow brick road. He claimed:

    "I was one of the architects of the balanced budget in '97 ... and when we did it, we had unparallel economic growth"

    Ah, NO.

    A) The federal budget was in NET surplus by the Summer of 1994, years before his timeline, as a direct result of the budget & tax legislation enacted by President Clinton and the Democratic Congressional Majority in 1993 that raised taxes on the Rich & Corporate. Kasich, who was in the House of Representatives at the time, voted AGAINST the legislation that reversed failed Reaganomics, as did every other Republican member of the House and Senate.

    At the time, Kasich declared, in regards to the 1993 budget & tax legislation he voted against:

    "This plan will not work. If it was to work, then I'd have to become a Democrat"

    (Still waiting on that conversion)

    B) The "unparallel economic growth" that Kasich references actually took off in 1994, as did the stock markets, well before Newtie & the Blowhards ascended to majority, and years before his 1997 timeline, again as a direct result of the tax & budget legislation he voted against and condemned in 1993.


  • mfinny on July 03, 2011 2:18 PM:

    I haven't watched the Sunday shows yet but I'm sure with a multiple trillion dollar decision being shaped the Democratic Party arranged to have the best and brightest with a clear message to lay out the effects of two trillion in cuts and rally the people to balanced approach. Yeah Dems. As long as the Dem leadership run as Republican lite the country's already lost and I blame those in Congress who claim to represent the Left.

  • Schtick on July 03, 2011 4:27 PM:

    The anecdote at the onset and the two paragraph summary nail it, but what difference will it make to anyone when the voters won't see it, hear it, or believe it?

    crapcha....ismation patterns....exactly.

  • gus on July 03, 2011 9:06 PM:

    To try and make the argument that the GOP has tried to break how things work, just say how much the wars cost.

    everything bush and obama spent in terms of stimulus, bailouts and loans might be a lot of money. But, two long wars....even the youngest and stupidest can piece that together and understand it. Then bring up the rest of the problems.

    Norquist: that guy's Class A Twit, isn't he? I know he wants to reduce Gov't to try and pocket money by the theory that the private sector will step in and make money doing what people expect and want from government or that it will do nothing like the government expcept make people richer when it is unecumbered by regulation.

    But, really, people who sort of support his thinking SEEM to believe that the Gov't needs to be Broken to Fix it. That's foolish. Especially so when people don't seem to even understand what governments in our country do and how they function. (yes, Virginia, there' s many levels of Gov'ts and working Together, in concert, AND separately, when it is practical, they can make America Great)

  • Joe Friday on July 03, 2011 10:18 PM:


    To try and make the argument that the GOP has tried to break how things work, just say how much the wars cost. everything bush and obama spent in terms of stimulus, bailouts and loans might be a lot of money. But, two long wars....even the youngest and stupidest can piece that together and understand it. Then bring up the rest of the problems.

    Actually, according to the independent non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, all of that is SWAMPED by the federal deficits and debt created by the numerous tax cuts for the Rich & Corporate, which is far and away the largest driver of the federal deficits and debt.

  • PEA on July 03, 2011 10:40 PM:


    "Some of the nation’s largest corporations have amassed vast profits outside the country and are pressing Congress and the Obama administration for a tax break to bring the money home. Apple has $12 billion waiting offshore, Google has $17 billion and Microsoft, $29 billion."

    They want to pay 5.25% instead of 35%!!! [we can all guess what is going to happen...]. The article goes on to list LOTS of big companies, which claimed they'd create jobs and took advantage of this strategy back in 2005, then actually CUT jobs, paid stockholders, and thanks to fungible dollars, continued to pay execs very well.

    How does this make you feel? Can anyone say "peon" as in "pee on us"? Tell Congress what you think...not that they listen. Captcha: apagule suffering -- yeah, you nailed it.