Thursday, November 29, 2012

Republicans Face the Political Cliff

Unsurprisingly, Ann Coulter is still defensive about her support for Mitt Romney. She has written two columns defending the candidate, and, by extension, herself from the charge of political misjudgment.

Even though Romney lost an eminently winnable election, leaving the Republican Party leaderless and rudderless, Coulter still insists that he was the best of the best.

If he is the best of the best, then Republicans have good reason to be demoralized, discouraged, and in disarray.

Coulter notwithstanding, Mitt Romney will never have a prominent role in the Republican Party. That says it all.

For those who are looking for consolation, Coulter opens her column today with some conservative Schadenfreude. She notes, sagely, that the people who provided the largest percentages for Obama are also the people who are most likely to suffer from his policies.

In her words:

One bright spot of Barack Obama's re-election was knowing that unemployment rates were about to soar for the precise groups that voted for him -- young people, unskilled workers and single women with degrees in gender studies.

You may not think that it’s social justice, so let’s call it divine justice. It’s something to feel good about.

For those who are not too distracted by what are called social issues, budget issues are front and center.

Everyone is becoming more optimistic about the economy, but I believe that today’s political wrangling is really about who is going to take the blame when the economy fails.

My optimistic side says that Obama will take the blame—because who else can take it—but my pessimistic side tells me that Obama and the media are trying to set up Republicans to take the fall.

But now the Democrats are sullying my silver lining by forcing Republicans to block an utterly pointless tax-raising scheme in order to blame the coming economic Armageddon on them. 

Surely, Obama knows that raising taxes on the rich will do nothing to reduce the deficit. He must know that it will damage the economy.

Yesterday, the London Telegraph reported that when the British government raised taxes on people who earned more than a million pounds, two-thirds of the millionaires left the country. The net result was less tax revenue. 

More likely, Obama loves the politics and the symbolism of raising taxes on the rich. By forcing Republicans to choose between voting for higher taxes, and thus, alienating many of their constituents, and taking the blame for an incipient economic collapse, he has boxed them into a corner.

If the budget goes over the fiscal cliff and a recession ensues, the media will surely blame Republican intransigence. Moreover, Republicans they will be accused, as Coulter says, of “caring only about the rich.”

Coulter is persuaded, as I am, that the Obama program will ensure an economic calamity, no matter what.

In her words:

The economy will tank because, as you will recall, Obama is still president. Government rules, regulations, restrictions, forms and inspections are about to drown the productive sector.

Obamacare is descending on job creators like a fly swatter on a gnat. Obama has already managed to produce the only "recovery" that is worse than the preceding recession since the Great Depression. And he says, "You ain't seen nothing yet."

The coming economic collapse is written in the stars, but if Republicans "obstruct" the Democrats by blocking tax hikes on top income earners, they're going to take 100 percent of the blame for the Obama economy. 

With heavy heart, she recommends, as I have, that Republicans give Obama what he wants. They need, above all else, to ensure that the economy belongs to Barack Obama.

The key for Republicans, Coulter continues, is getting their message out. Considering the headwinds called mainstream media bias, it is easier said than done.

She does not notice that  a messaging problem is often the messenger. Which Republican leader of national importance can do the job?

The Romney campaign has made some Republicans nostalgic for John McCain, but the senator from Arizona has already demonstrated a marked ineptitude when it comes to communicating ideas about economic policy.

Republicans would be in a better place if they had had a presidential candidate who had made the case against Barack Obama, a candidate who took the fight to Obama.

Mitt Romney could not do it and did not do it. He ran scared and tried to run out the clock.

The Ann Coulters of this world should have considered the point when they were beating the drums for Romney.

And then there is Chris Christie. Arguably the best communicator in the Republican Party, admired by Coulter and by me, Christie has now taken himself out of the game.

Whatever he thought he was doing by embracing President Obama in the last days of the campaign, Christie has alienated major segments of the Republican Party. When push came to shove, the big guy blinked.

Four years is a long time, but Christie will have a very difficult time restoring his position within the Republican Party.

A communicator as savvy as Chris Christie could have found a way to lead his state, even to welcome the president to his state, without damaging himself by showering Obama with excessive and unearned encomia.


Kristi Herman said...

Although I was not in the tank for Mitt like Coulter was, I did see him as the best of a marginal lot that chose to run. Who do you think would have been the best if not Romney? And only choosing from the primary runners?

I mean, Perry did himself in. Santorum was too much a social issue candidate and rather too much a neophyte. Newt was deeply flawed (including the issue of his and Calista's adultery, let alone his enormous ego). Herman Cain's candidacy died from serious self inflicted wounds. Ron Paul? Oh, please. Huntsman? Pawlenty folded quickly and easily, which makes you think he'd have never weathered the general. Bachman was flawed like Santorum. It was a very weak field, over all. Romney was the best of the lot. That's not to say that I drank the koolaid as deeply as Coulter, but who would you have backed?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

In many ways Mitt was the best of a flawed lot, but that's not quite what Coulter was saying-- she was, as you say, completely in the tank for Romney, as was, incidentally Jennifer Rubin at the Wash Post. Rubin sounded like she was on the campaign payroll.

For my part, as I said at the time, I would have preferred Newt, warts and all. I recall that Thomas Sowell was the most prominent supporter of Gingrich and I agreed with him that I would rather have run on the Contract with America than with Romneycare.

Apparently, the nation is more forgiving of adulterers than of venture capitalists.

The other problem was that Romney ran what seemed to me to be an exceptionally nasty primary campaign, doing his best to destroy the other candidates. I found him divisive and in direct violation of Ronald Reagan's eleventh commandment. Romney did nothing but speak ill of his fellow republicans, to the detriment of his campaign and the party.

Kristi Herman said...

I think Newt would have been a much worse candidate than Romney. I think the election results would have been a lot more one sided for Obama. Do you really think that married women, like me, and incidentally who happen to be the type of women who lean to the GOP, would have been ok with Newt and Callista's adultery? It would and did make me look closely at the other faults of Newt. Namely, a huge ego and his failure at leadership. You'll remember that it was Newt that caved to Clinton during the government shut down. Newt's personal failings and leadership failings and his brush with political scandal would have been enough to have me sit out.

Romney was no dream candidate, a sentiment of Coulter's that mystifies me, but he was better than what we were offered at the time. Coulter would have a lot more credibility if she acknowledged some of the faults of Romney.

Ironically, even though Rommney was a lousy campaigner, he probably would have made a pretty good president. I just don't see someone as divisive and egotistical as Gingrich being that good of a president.

JP said...

I think that the Republicans have finally started on the long road to political oblivion.

They emerged with Reagan in 1980, 1994 was their recent high water mark.

I just don't seem them recovering, although they should pick up seats in 2014.

It just looks like a bumpy road downhill.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

The fact is: Krisi's probably right. Then again, Newt's scandals are old news and America's favorite ex-president did a lot worse than adultery.

Romney had a perfect family and that did not seem to matter all that much to all that many people.

I certainly think that Romney would have been a good president, a better president than Obama, for certain.

I preferred Gingrich because he knew policy much better than Romney and understood the workings of he federal government much better than anyone.

I saw Newt last night on Greta's show and he showed a full command of the current issues about the fiscal and political cliff, coupled with an ability to articulate his position clearly.

On the other hand he wanted to call Obama's bluff and even to allow the economy to go over the cliff-- whether that's clever strategy or foolish, it's something that I and Coulter would avoid.

Anonymous said...

The Republican Party all but died when the McCain campaign added Palin and subsequently rolled over to the overly-produced pop-art Obama campaign.

I left the party at that point and remain a frustrated "independent" with a small "i". While I would welcome the chance to align myself once again, I fear that the GOP is on its way to bitter obscurity.

The blue-haired populous within the GOP have been too busy lobbying for their own entitlement to a comfortable pill-popping pasture, despite riding a 40 year binge of drunken borrow-and-spend hyper-consumerism, to recognize that in a two-party system, polarization is a risky proposition. The fiddler has come and their response is: "Get off my lawn!".

What did the GOP learn from 2008? What will they learn from 2012? The demographics continue to shift in favor of the entitlement culture and it seems we've past the point at which it is politically viable to acknowledge all of the elephants in the room. So be it, but at some point the party must figure out how to keep from alienating huge voting blocks in favor of the rigid preservation of the already-lost long-standing debates on things like women's reproduction rights.

As for the economic debate. Republicans have been suckling the teat of cheap labour (unbridled immigration) and globalism (ponzi currency and corporate cannibalism) for decades and now their "solution" seems to be different versions of blaming the cow.

The inability to develop a stable of potential candidates and elevate one with both skill and appeal is just one more sign of how the party has lost touch with not only the existing constituency, but more importantly, the future constituency.

Populism and emotional rhetoric will continue to win out until there is a reset (collapse) of epic proportions or the net-takers realize the Democratic proxies are just that. The reality is that the tools of both parties, protectionist policies and fear mongering, will continue to stretch the collapse until we are a zero-growth economy with a declining standard of living and our biggest export is intellectual capital.

I'm more likely to expatriate myself than see a Republican party that is truly representative and relevant again - let alone a sitting president.

Sam L. said...

Who is/are this "everyone" who is/are becoming more optimistic about the economy? I have seen no signs of that.

I think your optiminic side is a fool to say O will take the blame--when has he ever? He's blamed BUSH!!!!111!!! for 4 years; why would he stop? And now the lap dog media is primed to blame the GOP and those totally raaaaaacist and insane Tea Partiers.

" Surely, Obama knows that raising taxes on the rich will do nothing to reduce the deficit. He must know that it will damage the economy." A Feature, not a bug.

Less Revenue? An opportunity to tax the 'middle class' more.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Actually, I agree with you that Obama will never take personal responsibility for the damages he causes.

I was thinking that, with any luck, he will be held accountable, and thus that his policies and philosophy will be discredited.

As you say, that's a bit optimistic.

As for the general optimism about the economy, I was thinking that the markets are looking pretty good and the financial press, excepting a few Cassandras, has been touting the good economy.