Thune’s crazy tune

THUNE’S CRAZY TUNE…. Republican lawmakers have had plenty of time to work up talking points in opposition to the economic stimulus package. It stands to reason they’d work backwards — start with the answer (recovery legislation = bad), and then fill in the blanks (why recovery legislation = bad).

But given all of the weeks, arguments, media debates, and spin doctors, a few too many GOP lawmakers nevertheless sound surprisingly moronic.

Take Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), for example, who gave an impassioned speech today — with colorful charts — talking about the physical size of a $1 trillion stimulus package. Seriously, watch the clip. Thune goes on and on, hoping to get the point across that if we stacked $100 bills, $1 trillion would be 689 miles high. And if we tied those bills end to end, $1 trillion could wrap the circumference of the planet nearly 39 times.

The point, apparently, is that $1 trillion is a lot of money. Of course, we knew that. Everyone knows that. Even congressional Republicans know that. The point of the argument isn’t that a stimulus package would create modestly-sized piles of paper; the point of the argument is that we’re facing a global economic catastrophe, which requires a massive government spending bill. If Thune believes otherwise, fine. Let him make the argument. But he’s had months to prepare for this debate, and the best he can come up with is superficial, child-like nonsense? This, from a so-called “rising star” in Republican politics?

Put it this way. Estimates vary on the cost of the war in Iraq, but let’s say the war has cost about $1 trillion. Thune has supported every penny. If pressed, would he be persuaded to oppose the Bush administration’s policy in Iraq based on the size of the piles of money the war costs? Probably not. The point is the merit of the policy.

Calling Thune an “idiot,” Josh Marshall called the senator’s remarks “painfully stupid.” That’s true. But just think — the debate is just getting started. There are hours’ worth of Republican speeches to go.