Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Circular Firing Squad: Republicans and the Tea Party Populists

In the past ten days, the Republican Party has allowed two of its most experienced and dedicated politicians to be shoved out of the nest by extremist, doctrinaire Tea Party candidates.

Charlie Crist, long-time state politician and current governor of Florida, deflected a strong challenge from a Tea Party opponent by declaring that he would continue his campaign for the U.S. Senate as an Independent. And yesterday, Bob Bennett, a third-term Senator from Utah with impeccable conservative credentials, lost the opportunity to run again in 2010 when his state’s Republican convention ousted him in favor of two ultraconservative and entirely inexperienced Tea Party candidates.

Apparently Crist’s fatal errors as far the lunatic fringe of his party is concerned were 1) treating the President hospitably when he visited the state in February and 2) expressing support for the federal stimulus package—a bill that greatly mitigated the effect of the recession in Florida and literally saved public education there.

There was a time when politicians were expected to be diplomats—cordial to allies and opponents alike—and to vote their conscience on matters of extreme urgency. Not any more—not in today’s GOP (General Opposition Party). According to today’s conservative armchair observers, many of whom keep their radios and TVs tuned to incessant right-wing propaganda, the only right attitude is a cynical one and the only right answer to any matter of public policy is a resounding “NO!”

They say Bob Bennett’s crime was voting in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)—the infamous Wall Street “bail out.” Indeed he did—along with 30 other reluctant Republican Senators and a good many reluctant Democrats. An unhappy President Bush signed the bill into law. Nobody wanted to bail out those bastards on Wall Street, but it had to be done—just as the European Union now has to hold its nose and bail out Greece. The economy of the country was threatening to implode into a black hole that could have taken the whole world with it; drastic measures were required.

So Bob Bennett appears to be a victim of his times—a true conservative who had the misfortune to be in Congress at a time when he had to make a correct but unpopular decision.

There’s been a lot of chatter on television lately about how conditions may be right, come November, for a great Republican revival. At the rate things are going, though, Democratic candidates might just as well wait as long as possible to step into the fray. Most of them are well advised at this point to save their advertizing dollars and stand by, while the opposition candidates bicker among themselves and pick each other off.

9 comments:

Kimberly said...

It did not have to be done. There were better alternatives. I will never vote for a candidate that voted for TARP... then again, I almost certainly was not going to vote with them to begin with, so its not like they actually lost my vote.

Citizen Jane said...

Hi, Kimberly! Welcome!

Would you please mention one or two of those "better alternatives"? I'm not aware of any economist who disagreed with the basic premise that those mega-banks and finance companies were, indeed, "too big to fail."

Failure of any one of the bailed-out firms, for example, would have resulted in countless personal and corporate bankruptcies, here and abroad, as well as even more foreclosures, job losses, and loss of consumer confidence.

What were the alternatives?

"Too big to fail" was a real and unavoidable reality in the fall of 2008. With the financial reforms now being discussed in Congress, however, we may hope to change the system so that never happens again. People who care about future generations should support that legislation.

Six said...

Hi CJ - I will bite -

There were MANY economists that disagreed - in fact there was even a full 2-page ad taken in the Wall Street Journal by a couple hundred prominent economists disputing the presidents claim of 'all economists agree...' rhetoric. A quick google search found one of my favorite economists (who also just released a book that I intend to pick up this weekend) who wrote for CNN on September 29, 2008 that Bankruptcy, not Bailout is the Answer. He also has a insightful blog that I check in to regularily. If you are genuinely interested, I can link up many more highly respected economists who think it was a bad idea then and still think it was a bad idea today.

As for Crist and Bennet? Who cares... let the GOP eat it's own. I tend to think a higher turnover in elected officials would actually be a good thing.

Also - interested to hear your Progressive take on the appointment of Kagen? I didn't really know well who she was until yesterday but some of the legal-oriented places I like to follow, the overall consenus is that she is not very good on civil liberties and generally moves the court to the right. Thoughts?

Citizen Jane said...

Hi, Six,

First, thanks for the links to information about Jeffery Miron. I have to say, though, that what he says doesn't have a great deal of credibility with me. In my opinion, some common sense occasionally emerges from all the musings that go on at the Cato Institute, but not very often.

Mainstream economists, from Greenspan to Krugman, were and are in universal agreement that allowing the "TBTF" companies to go bankrupt would have resulted in the recession spiraling into a depression from which it might have taken decades to recover. A lot more individual lives would have been destroyed or derailed--and as you know, my moral foundation always boils down to what happens to real, flesh-and-blood individuals.

Miron clearly has good credentials, and college degrees matter to me. It doesn't necessarily mean people are right, but if they're wrong, at least they're well informed about what they're wrong about. However, I'm reminded of a guy I met many years ago who was a Ph.D. candidate in paleontology. He spent a whole evening trying to convince me that there were never any dinosaurs on earth--the bones were simply God's way of testing our faith!

As for Kagan, I like her. I like the fact that she's not dogmatic and that she's apparently capable of deep, attentive listening and finding consensus. She looks like a great pick to me. I know many progressives don't feel that she's "progressive" enough, but I like someone smart who's hard to pin a label on. I means she's still capable of thinking!

Idna said...

I'm shocked, SHOCKED! that you would endorse an Obama pick for SCOTUS. (Just kidding.)

I think he could pick Jimminy Cricket and have the endorsement of a certain percentage of the population who will follow him blindly off ANY cliff.

What the heck do we know about this woman? Are there NO qualified judges in this entire country to sit on that bench? Or someone who at least has SOME judicial experience? Or do we have to go with yet another unqualified Obama pal ... an Obama-mini-me?

Six said...

Ok Greenspans role in this may well be criminal before all is said and done. And Krugman has changed his opinion and failed to be accurate in any sort sense. On the other hand, folks like Miron have been fairly spot on for decades - including this most recent collapse.

And your friend that was a PhD candidate trying to claim that there never existed any dinosaurs (which is as about as comical as the religious nutters who claim that Noah took dinosaurs on the Arc with him) likely was not accepted and certainly not at a school such as Harvard such as Dr. Miron.

What makes you think being able to 'find a concensus' qualifys someone as a good Supreme Court pick? All the garbage about her being not experienced enough - its just garbarage. There have been plenty of good Supreme Court Justices with no prior judicial experience and weaker credentials than her - in fact, I almost prefer someone with no judge experience. What worries me though is her love of executive power... she is quite literally out of Bush/Cheney school of thought when it comes to what she believes the president should have in the way of power...

Idna said...

Excuse me, Six? ... the "Bush/Cheney school of thought when it comes to what she believes the president should have in the way of power."

Are you saying that with a straight face after witnessing the power grabbing obama-maniac in the White House currently?

Six said...

Idna - Yes.

CJ - Here is a fun one for you since I know you are in the education field. Basically the GOP religious nuts are fighting over who is more Christian as a qualifying factor for Gov. Essentially a GOP Candidate for Gov is attacked for being suspected of believing in evolution and suggesting some parts of the Bible might not be true - he fights back claiming that while on the State Board of Education he fought to ensure creationism was taught in schools. He further asserts that he believes 'every single word' to be true. It would be funny if it were not so sad. Love to hear your thoughts!

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