The 65,000 empty seats at Ford Field today when Mitt Romney delivered a speech on the economy seemed an appropriate audience for a candidate who, along with all the other GOP hopefuls, opposed federal recovery assistance for the auto industry. As the Detroit Free Press noted in 2010:
Earlier this month the Romney campaign released an ad slamming fellow GOP candidate Rick Santorum for supporting earmarks. Ironically, it was Romney who, as head of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee and as Governor of Massachusetts, sought millions in earmarks. In fact the federal government paid a record $1.3 billion in taxpayer money to the Salt Lake City Olympics — money that was used for parking lots, sewer systems, and a horse adoption program.
This from Andrew Sullivan:
Every time you think the ultras in the current GOP won't go there, they do. They'll sabotage economic growth for short term political advantage. They'll sabotage their own president in negotiating with allies. They're happy for the US to default if it means they can damage Obama. Their own plan for immediate, drastic austerity would be catastrophic for the global economy. Their pre-Arab Spring belligerence would shut America out of a critical opportunity to ease tensions with the growing and burgeoning Muslim world. And they have no problem treating the world economy as a partisan plaything.
If they claw their way back to power this way, our system really will be broken for a long time. And the great possibility of an adult conversation on pragmatic grounds to help the economy will be lost. And this is emphatically not Obama's fault. He tried. They threw it back in his face again and again. Which means, I believe, that we should double down in backing him, instead of the ear-splitting whine coming from the left.
The GOP spin machine and complicit media — including, disturbingly, NPR — would like you to believe that the recent special elections are incontrovertible predictors of the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. (See Nate Silver's A Guide to Cutting Through Special Election Spin.)
Alter Net's Joshua Holland has a cogent analysis in TruthOut.org of the discussion in liberal circles of whether Obama should be considered a success or a failure. In a particularly even-handed critique, Holland argues that:
... [T]his is actually a debate over whether one should do what one can within the political constraints of the day, or expend a lot of energy trying to move the political dialogue in one's preferred direction.
Holland also suggests that the Obama political team bears some responsibility for the ambivalence in progressive circles:
Obama didn't promise to do what he could to dig the country out of eight years of disastrous Republican governance: he promised to change Washington – to usher in a new era of comity and reason -- and people believed him. They shouldn't have, because at the end of the day, progressives still faced any number of structural hurdles.
In an earlier commentary, Holland noted:
... [T]he message is as hopelessly naive in the real world of American politics as it is appealing on the stump, and for a simple reason: it assumes that the GOP -- dominated as it is by "movement conservatives" in the Delay-Rove mold -- and it's corporate backers are interested in engaging in a thoughtful debate over how to make America a better country. If that were the case, then bridging the divide through calm words and negotiation would certainly be better by leaps and bounds than the ugly brand of politics we have today
A question that has puzzled me for some time is whether right-wing ideologues actually believe their own nonsense about economics, or whether it's just Frank-Luntz-esque political sloganeering.
As Matt Miller wrote in the Washington Post last month:
You can feel the Republicans’ pain; tax cuts have been the party’s defining issue since Ronald Reagan rode them to power in 1980. But in an aging America, the numbers no longer work, and Republicans have failed to develop a new conservative vision to replace their fading mantra.
A new Quinnipiac poll finds voters blame Bush over Obama 54 - 27% for the poor economy. The poll finds that by a margin of 67 - 25% voters believe that solutions to the deficit should include tax hikes for the wealthy and corporations, and not just spending cuts. And 62 - 32% voters believe that it's more important to reduce unemployment than to reduce the federal deficit.
Says Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute:
Jane Hamsher has a timeline of S&P's downgrading of US credit rating to AA+ from AAA, suggesting that it is: