Pots and Kettles

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Remember how apoplectic the younger President Bush made leftists? And how he was hysterically labeled at some times an idiot and at other times an evil genius? Dana Milbank doesn't draw the similarity to frantic leftist swipes at Bush, but he does note a desperate inconsistency about GOP attacks against Barack Obama:

[Paul] Ryan, in his brief commentary, protested that Obama is "interested in tax reform for corporations -- but not for families or small business." He further accused Obama of implementing health-care and regulatory policies that favor big businesses and big banks.

That's rich.

Ryan, after all, is the guy who just a year ago accused Obama of "sowing social unrest and class resentment," of supporting "a government-run economy" and of "denigrating people who are successful." He has charged the president with leading the nation toward "a cradle-to-grave, European-style social welfare state." [links in original]
Most people regard government favors to "big business" as somewhat the opposite of socialism, so -- for the moment -- we'll go with the premise that these attacks are inconsistent. Milbank blames the problem on "their thought leaders" not "agree[ing] on the proper line of attack."

Milbank is on the right track, but another example shows at once where he has yet to go, as well as why so many Repulicans are having trouble opposing Obama effectively:
[House Speaker John] Boehner, asked at a news conference this week about Obama's series of speeches on the economy, replied: "If I had poll numbers as low as his, I'd probably be out doing the same thing if I were him." ... [bold added]
Really? Since when was doing anything relative to the economy -- aside from getting out of the way -- the business of a government official? In a similar vein, since when has lowering taxes for anyone been "unfair" or the moral equivalent of a doled-out government favor? Well, I used to think that it was the Democrats who regarded lower taxes as a government expense and Republicans who regarded taxes as money taken from individual citizens.

The reason Republican "thought 'leaders'" can't agree on how to attack Obama is that too many of them agree with him on the premises that running the economy is the government's job and that government looting of private citizens is okay. Too often, the "disagreement" amounts to how much interference and looting to do, and on details as to how to accomplish them. This is why Ryan's attacks differ only on which pressure group they are targeted for: Americans worried about the government running the economy, or voters who dislike large corporations. (At least in the eyes of  politician who doesn't see a principled difference between these groups, would Americans who want the government to butt out of the economy be a "pressure group" to be pandered to. Also, lest you think I am being unfair to Ryan, remember that he wants to save -- not sunset -- Social Security.)

Perhaps the acceptance of common premises among leftists and too many conservatives might also explain why Milbank himself doesn't see why Republicans can't agree on a line of attack: Actually, attacking government favors to big businesses (or any other group) and attacking socialism would be quite consistent, if done for the right reasons. Otherwise -- if the attacks merely appeal to what the politician regards as competing pressure groups -- they represent a grasping at straws at best.

Even a parrot can "criticize" Obama for being a socialist. But words are meaningless without cognitive context and accomplish nothing without appropriate actions. No wonder so many GOPers are having a hard time attacking Obama: He got where they're going first! The GOP will change direction or die. There is no need or room for two entitlement state parties in America.

-- CAV

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