The Rebuplicans' Game of Thrones
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 18:09
At the Republican National Convention, thousands of conservative voters were treated to the absurd spectacle of an old man talking to a chair for twelve minutes.
Before you get all worked up, don’t worry; this won’t be another “lets beat up on Clint Eastwood” column. I actually like the guy. I’m a huge fan of his movies, especially anything directed by Sergio Leone. Well, except for “The Bridges of Madison County.” The chair would have been a better pick for that role. And at least until recently, I didn’t think he was bonkers.
No, I’m not trying to beat up on Clint. But his performance left a lot of questions in my mind. I mean, the poor guy was talking to an imaginary person; worse, an imaginary version of the President that only seems to exist in the minds of Republicans. It left me wondering, what is it with Republicans and fantasies?
Seriously. They’re supposed to be the party of “adults” with the realistic, common-sense solutions to today’s challenging problems. So why is it so many of their actual policies and ideas seem to bear no relation to observable reality? And why do they persist in idolizing previous leaders, usually deceased, despite the obvious fact that none of the people they claim to revere would be allowed through the door in today’s Republican party?
Let’s start with their patron saint, Ronald Reagan. Reagan, of course, is famous for saying “government isn’t the solution, government is the problem.” He also is remembered for cutting taxes, shrinking government, slashing spending, balancing the budget and giving us eight years of low unemployment.
Unfortunately, it’s all fantasy. In fact, Reagan repeatedly signed budgets that raised taxes. Under him, the size of the federal government grew, along with the deficit and the national debt (he tripled each), and at the start of his second term, unemployment hovered around eight percent.
If government is the problem, he made the problem bigger.
Republicans love to idolize Lincoln, too. Unfortunately, the original Republican wouldn’t be welcome in the door of today’s anti-civil rights, vote suppressing, anti-immigrant reactionary party. Not with that whole emancipation thing in his record. He wasn’t a big fan of letting the states decide what’s right for them. He presided over a Civil War partly over that issue.
Similarly, their fantasy version of Obama is just as wildly inaccurate. For four years, they’ve painted a picture of this president as a socialist, Marxist, tax-and-spend, big government extreme leftist hell bent on imposing either atheistic communism or Sharia law on America, depending on which guano-crazy right winger you talk to. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney loves to tell the mob that Obama’s policies aren’t working, that he made the recession worse, that the stimulus plan failed, and that he’s gone on “multiple apology tours” of the world where he’s supposedly apologized for America.
None of this, of course, is true.
The stimulus worked, by any reasonable standard. When Obama took office, we were on a steady track downward after eight years of tax cuts, war and record deficit spending under George W. Bush. The stimulus, and the policies that followed, reversed the decline and now we’re gaining jobs every month. Not huge numbers, but still gains. And unemployment continues to hover around eight percent – where have we seen that before? When Reagan presided over similar figures he said it was “morning in America.” Yet Romney and Ryan want us to fire Obama over similar performance.
Last I checked, turning losses into gains is making things better, not worse.
One of the more ironic moments in Eastwood’s on-stage meltdown came when he asked fantasy Obama about Afghanistan and said he hadn’t consulted Russia about that before he sent more troops in. That’s funny; if Bush had bothered to study a little history, he might have realized Russia’s own misadventure in Afghanistan had resulted in the end of its own empire, and maybe he’d have thought twice about sending in the marines.
Fantasy Obama also apparently told Romney to do something obscene and physically impossible, which real Obama would never do. He has far more class and style than that.
Their policies are equally fantastical. First, there’s the demonstrable absurdity of Reaganomics – the so-called “trickle down” theory that says if we cut taxes at the top, the wealth will drip down on the rest of us. We’ve been trying this experiment for thirty years now, with atrocious results. Income at the top has skyrocketed, while for the rest of us it’s stayed flat or declined. We’re fast approaching the point where top tax rates can’t be cut any further – when will the rest of us be trickled on, in a lovely shower? Oh, that’s right... we already are.
They also want us to believe cutting education and social spending is good for the country, and the right thing to do, because of “personal responsibility” or some such thing. As if taking from people the resources they need to survive will somehow magically make them not poor. Because that always works, you know.
They want us to believe unions caused the recent recession, when everyone who’s been paying attention at all for the past 30 years knows it was the takers at the top and their accomplices in the big banks that are the real culprits.
They want us to believe abortion is the root of all evil in this country, and outlawing it will solve all our ills, instead of just pushing it into the shadows, the back alleys and the unlicensed clinics. Not that I’m in favor of abortion, mind you. I believe it’s wrong, and there’s very little good that comes from it. But making it illegal will solve nothing.