Opinion Columns & Blogs

Theater of the Absurd

“It’s been two weeks and no grand economic strategy. There is no need. They know the momentum from Obama’s economy will continue to improve in 2015 and 2016 and they will take credit for it because it happened under their watch….”

This was the concluding paragraph of my prior column “Now what?” Perhaps I was being too harsh and cynical but the new senate majority leader Mitch McConnell proved me right.

Majority leader McConnell, last Wednesday, turned the senate floor into the theater of the absurd. In his thespian glory, he stated, “After so many years of sluggish growth, we’re finally starting to see some economic data that can provide a glimmer of hope. The uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama administration’s long tenure in Washington: the expectation of a new republican congress.” What brazenness. He didn’t even wait till the republican actually accomplished something. Obviously McConnell doesn’t suffer from a shortage of hubris, arrogance and chutzpah. He would have us believe that Obama’s economic turnaround six years in the making was just happening now because of an anticipation of a republican congress. It would be much too kind to attribute such delusions to psychosis. Many think that’s crazy talk. Yes, crazy like a fox.

Republican strategists and McConnell know better. Didn’t they sweep Congress with exactly that strategy? McConnell’s statement is no more outrageous or absurd than the fetor of false, deceitful and fantastical claims leading to their election victories. It’s not unrealistic that over time people will believe the economic recovery was a republican accomplishment. For the record, I predict that McConnell will continue to lead a chorus on this mythology and come 2016, the waters will be so muddied that many will believe it. With the help of FOX and thousands of far right media outlets, it won’t be the first time that fiction morphs into reality.

It really isn’t a hard sell when you consider how many buy into the idea that “President Obama has incurred almost as much debt than all of his predecessors combined” and that global warming is a hoax. Both are blatantly false. With the right public relations, money and propaganda, anything can be sold, even a bridge.

So what is one to do? Should we stoop to the level of deceit, misinformation and lies or should we stand our ground. There is a saying that if you have to explain it, you have already lost the argument. That is the folly of democrats. They give logical, rational and extensive explanations until your eyes roll to the back of your head much like what I have done in my columns. Explanations are necessary however but stickiness of ideas is crucial. Perhaps that explains the popularity of Elizabeth Warren. Although a brilliant academician, she can distill complexities into simple narratives which resonate with hard working Americans. By persistently standing by her progressive ideas despite its unpopularity, she manages to make those ideas that truly help main street Americans popular.

So how does the GOP continue to successfully reward Wall St. and shaft Man Street and make them like it? They introduce esoteric (definition: intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.) policies and changes, allege it benefits the American people, then sit back and let democrats explain why it doesn’t knowing full well that if you have to explain it, you’ve already lost.

The early actions of the new congress prove my point. They want to change the rules on calculating the impact of tax cuts on the economy. They rule, called “Dynamic Scoring” makes it easier to cut taxes on Wall St. Okay democrats, explain why that is bad. They are changing a long used accounting technique protecting Social Security benefits so they can cut Social Security. Okay democrats, explain how it cuts Social Security. They are pushing immediacy of the Keystone Xl pipeline claiming it is a jobs bill and an energy security bill. Okay democrats, explain why it isn’t. They eliminated the swaps push-out provision in the budget bill which protects American taxpayers and makes Wall Street pay for its own gambling losses. Okay democrats, explain that.

The GOP is rebranding itself so as not to be seen as the party of privilege, yet all these actions only benefits the privileged. Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower and even H.W. Bush, today’s republican party sorely needs your leadership.