I love a good rant, and Kevin Drum’s piece yesterday was a beauty.
Republicans got the tax cuts they wanted. They got the financial deregulation they wanted. They got the wars they wanted. They got the unfunded spending increases they wanted. And the results were completely, unrelentingly disastrous. A decade of sluggish growth and near-zero wage increases. A massive housing bubble. Trillions of dollars in war spending and thousands of American lives lost. A financial collapse. A soaring long-term deficit. Sky-high unemployment. All on their watch and all due to policies they eagerly supported. And even worse, ever since the predictable results of their recklessness came crashing down, they’ve rabidly and nearly unanimously opposed every single attempt to dig ourselves out of the hole they created for us.
But despite the fact that this is all recent history, it’s treated like some kind of dreamscape. No one talks about it. Republicans pretend it never happened. Fox News insists that what we need is an even bigger dose of the medicine we got in the aughts, and this is, inexplicably, treated seriously by the rest of the press corps instead of being laughed at.
I’ve long believed one of the great political tragedies of the post-Bush era is that practically every aspect of the Republican approach to governance was thoroughly discredited, but the vast majority of the public and the political mainstream simply didn’t notice.
By early 2009, those who were either directly responsible for a world-changing fiasco or who cheered the failure on as it happened, were still treated as if they had something worthwhile to contribute, not only to the discourse, but also to the policymaking process. Bush administration officials became pundits, whining about the speed with which Democrats were cleaning up their mess. Republicans who voted for the discredited conservative agenda pretended like they deserved to be taken seriously, and the establishment simply went along. Indeed, GOP lawmakers decided they wouldn’t work in good faith, wouldn’t cooperate with Democrats, and wouldn’t even allow votes on key measures in the midst of ongoing crises, and this was somehow seen as routine.
Now they’ve even prepared to crash the economy, on purpose, because they’re pretending to be concerned about a debt they created, and can’t bring themselves to address through one of their other policy failures.
Those whose policies had failed felt comfortable barking orders, and instead of pointing and laughing at their chutzpah, America gave them talk shows, Senate seats, newspaper columns, and governors’ offices.
Indeed, these same folks are beginning to tell the electorate, “Vote for us and we’ll roll back the clock, bring back the policies that failed so spectacularly, and be even more right-wing.”
And they stand a reasonably good chance of winning.
The mind reels.