John Dickerson, "Why If Romney Loses, the GOP Will Declare War on Itself". September 18
Every love's the love before,
in a duller dress.
JOHN Dickerson is in his mid-forties and a second-generation Washington insider; professionally he's a writer for Slate and CBS's Political Director, although I'm not sure what either of those things means. So, honestly, if he can't be bothered to remember four years ago, same as the Republican party can't be bothered remembering George W. Bush, I guess we all might as well forget it.
It was during the Republican 2008 convention that Peggy Noonan shocked everyone, myself included, who subscribed to the theory that she knows absolutely nothing by dissing Sarah Palin when Nooners thought she was off mike. (So did Chuck Todd, but nothing will change my attitude about him.) The mumbles were loud enough to make out by September, and by early October a) the inevitability of defeat by Barack Obama had taken hold on the Right, and b) the rough outline of the Ross Douthat/Reihan Salaam Blueprint for a Republican Resurgance (short version: be like us!) was on the breakfast agenda at Doubleday. This, as we all know, led to the Republican party distancing itself from Palinesque extremism, and moving toward the happy center it occupies now.
In addition to my reporting, there are now some public signs. David Brooks offered a withering critique of Romney in a column today that ends with what feels like a post-election analysis seven weeks before the election. "He’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not—some sort of cartoonish government-hater. But it scarcely matters. He’s running a depressingly inept presidential campaign." In a piece for Politico today, the former GOP chairman Haley Barbour already sounds like he's offering post-game analysis. “In the future, and not distant future, Republicans have to come to grips with the right policy on immigration," says Barbour. Bill Kristol also appears to be in the mood to offer final words on this campaign: "Has there been a presidential race in modern times featuring two candidates who have done so little over their lifetimes for our country, and who have so little substance to say about the future of our country?" (He is apparently not yet buying the Romney campaign’s move to specificity).
Okay: David Brooks is a simpering self-promoter interested only in keeping his own taxes low and justifying his juvenile Milton Friedman crush; Brooks' sole purpose within the Republican party is to convince Republican insiders that they have somebody in the "liberal" Press who makes them sound reasonable. He's an ad man for a crappy product. Republicans don't listen to him. They've never listened to him. They're not supposed to listen to him. Haley Barbour is a genuine Republican insider, albeit one who found out just how blatantly corrupt you have to be to get your fellow Republicans to notice. Leave us note that Barbour is blathering about immigration, which has nothing to do with Romney's problems, except, maybe, as a symptom of what becoming more attractive to the Republican electorate has cost him. Barbour, following Romney's loss, has now set himself up to be the next Ed Rollins. And to serve as a career template for Reince Priebus.
Kristol? Does anyone know what Bill Kristol is? Okay, he may be a consultant to Republican insiders who can't quite manufacture all the Crazy they require in house, but otherwise he seems little more than something a clinically insane homicidal maniac with seventeen personalities might aspire to become if he could just reduce 'em to one or two.
The Republican party won't reform. The Republican party can't reform. It certainly isn't gonna reform because a few insiders wish the collection of racist religious fascists and chain-letter cranks it threw in with fifty years ago would make themselves a little more presentable in time for Prom.
In 1980, about 30 percent of Americans received some form of government benefits. Today, as Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute has pointed out, about 49 percent do.
Which I guess means you guys are ready to discuss pandemic income inequality and astronomical healthcare costs?
Ha, ha. Just kiddin'. Boy, nothin' relieves you of the obligation of serious analysis like spouting a statistic, does it? I guess Mitt Romney could have explained that to you.
In 1960, government transfers to individuals totaled $24 billion. By 2010, that total was 100 times as large. Even after adjusting for inflation, entitlement transfers to individuals have grown by more than 700 percent over the last 50 years.
Might be a little more accurate if you adjusted for the inflation in medical costs over the past 50 years. Especially since there was no such thing as Medicare or Medicaid in 1960.
Here's a lil' stat they might be interested in at AEI. In 1960, US aid to Israel totaled…well, nothing, really; it was mostly loans, which were repaid. In 2010 that total had marginally increased to…nearly $3.2 billion, 87% of which is military aid. What's the percentage on that?
This spending surge, Eberstadt notes, has increased faster under Republican administrations than Democratic ones.
Yeah, shocking, ain't it, that nobody's fucked the lower classes over the last half-century like Republican administrations?
There are sensible conclusions to be drawn from these facts. You could say that the entitlement state is growing at an unsustainable rate and will bankrupt the country. You could also say that America is spending way too much on health care for the elderly and way too little on young families and investments in the future.
You could say that our problem is the cheapening of political discourse by people paid to say totally unsupported shit just to score points. One of those surmises is supportable.
Wait, aren't you the guys who opposed Death Panels?
This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?
Y'know, this is the sort of political cowardice which put the Republican party increasingly in the hands of the people Mitt Romney has been incrementally pandering to for the last seven years. It's the sort of political cowardice which, in the hands of John Dickerson's cohort, or Democratic centrists, has enabled it, because calling this shit out requires calling it shit. What Romney said was precisely what Paul Ryan has been saying for the entire Obama administration. The math hasn't changed. The ugly reality behind that attitude hasn't changed. People on Social Security are, by and large, elderly, or disabled. And they're there because at one point--long ago, now--we were a moral enough people to judge that such people should not be eating out of garbage cans in a land of plenty. That access to the resources of this country carried with it a responsibility to help husband those resources, including--especially--human resources. How did this come to be debatable, Mr. Brooks? How did the year 2000 lead directly to the 14th century, if not via Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman?
And leave us mention, as well, that at least half of those 47% are women, and your party's been busy all season telling them to shut up and birth some more babies. Y'know, in my experience, smart decisions are a lot less likely than stupid decisions to fall victim to bad timing.
Romney’s comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact. In 1987, during Ronald Reagan’s second term, 62 percent of Republicans believed that the government has a responsibility to help those who can’t help themselves. Now, according to the Pew Research Center, only 40 percent of Republicans believe that.
The Republican Party, and apparently Mitt Romney, too, has shifted over toward a much more hyperindividualistic and atomistic social view — from the Reaganesque language of common citizenship to the libertarian language of makers and takers. There’s no way the country will trust the Republican Party to reform the welfare state if that party doesn’t have a basic commitment to provide a safety net for those who suffer for no fault of their own.Flummery. This is precisely the result of Reaganism, which came to power after a sixteen year crusade to eliminate the National Debt--almost all of which, at the time, was due to WWII, the Marshall Plan, and the hyper-military spending of the 50s and 60s--by eliminating the social safety net. Don't tell me what sort of cover language Reagan used--he, or his puppeteers, were smart enough to test-market the elimination of Social Security, by taxing the dividends of the elderly--and they turned and ran from the resulting Gray onslaught. The mystery involved here isn't how 60% of Republicans come to imagine the US has no responsibility to its citizens; the mystery is who the other 40% are. The real mystery is how Republicans imagine they can fuck 50% of the population--plus the additional 20% who'd get fucked over, but enjoy it--with impunity.
Sure, there are some government programs that cultivate patterns of dependency in some people. I’d put federal disability payments and unemployment insurance in this category. But, as a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney.
In other words, it's the truth.
Wait, disability payments? Th' fuck is wrong with you people?
Personally, I think he’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater. But it scarcely matters. He’s running a depressingly inept presidential campaign. Mr. Romney, your entitlement reform ideas are essential, but when will the incompetence stop?
With the exception of Jon "Not A Fucking Chance In This Or Any Other Solar System" Huntsman, Mr. Brooks, Mitt Romeny was far and away the best your party had to offer. When will that incompetence stop?