Some folks simply do not get it, particularly if those folks are academics: Why GOP can’t say ‘whatever it is, we’re against it’
One of the best Marx Brothers movies, “Horse Feathers,” played in movie theaters at the height of the Great Depression in 1932.
In the film, the comedian Groucho Marx played the new president of Huxley College, Quincy Adams Wagstaff.
During one of the most memorable scenes, Groucho introduces himself to faculty and students by singing about his philosophy of governance: “Your proposition may be good/But let’s have one thing understood/ Whatever it is, I’m against it!/And even when you’ve changed it or condensed it, I’m against it/ I’m opposed to it/On general principle. I’m opposed to it.”
If Republicans want to rebuild their party after the calamity of 2008, the party leadership needs to avoid the Quincy Adams Wagstaff approach to politics.
When Obama proposed his economic recovery bill last week, the first words to come out of House Minority Leader’s John Boehner’s mouth sounded a bit like Wagstaff.
With the economy imploding and the international economic crisis worsening, Boehner said: “Right now, given the concerns that we have over the size of the package and all of the spending in this package, we don’t think it’s going to work. And so if it’s the plan that I see today, put me down in the ‘no’ column.”
How exactly does that sound like Wagstaff? Boehner had a very concrete objection; the damn thing is just too expensive. (It continually amazes me that liberals believe we cannot “afford” a $10 billion dollar tax cut, for example, but in the next breath announce that we CAN afford $1.3 trillion in new spending. Yeah, that makes sense.) Besides, are the American people really going to care if Obama’s programs pass in congress unanimously or not? Of course they won’t. In reality the GOP has everything to gain by developing a backbone on such matters, and not only because it allows Republicans to say “I told you so” when the Obama plan goes “ass over tea kettle” as it inevitably will given the fact that Keynesian economics never work. The GOP may just be able to moderate the worst excesses of the Democratic penchant for “handout liberalism,” especially if they are able to remove their own failures in that regard.
[I]f Boehner’s plan is for his party to act as an oppositional force — trying to block, delay and prevent legislative action — then the GOP could find itself in big trouble.
If the Republicans don’t agree with Obama’s approach, given the severity of the crisis, they need to offer an alternative rather than just sitting still.
To be sure, there is the possibility that if the economy continues to deteriorate after a bill has passed and the public loses faith in Obama, the House GOP could reap the benefit from their opposition. They could say “we told you so.” But even that would be a high-risk maneuver, particularly given the state of public opinion about the Republican Party.
The idea that Republicans should meekly knuckle under to Democratic aspirations because of opinion polls of the moment is simply dumb. Every historical example speaks against such a notion. Did Democrats knuckle under when the first George Bush was riding high in the polls in 1991 after the first Gulf War? No they didn’t and as a direct result they won the Presidency and retained control of Congress in 1992 (the last time they would enjoy that distinction until 2006.) It is foolish and shortsighted to base a party’s political approach simply on the current moment. The Democrats did exactly that from 1994-2004 and look where it got them.
Even if a bill passes and the economy continues to struggle, voters would be looking at a Republican Party that didn’t have anything better to offer. The public likes hard-working politicians.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal ideas didn’t always work — some like the National Recovery Act were downright failures — but voters valued a president who tried to offer arguments about how to end the crisis and who rolled up his sleeves to make the nation better.
Nonsense. The National Recovery Act made the nation worse in and of itself. Why should anyone have to sit back, watch a politician harm our country and do nothing? Sounds like base cowardice to me. The idea that the American people are too stupid to understand such concepts is simply wrong. The Republicans just have to keep hammering on the point over and over again. When some hare-brained Democratic idea causes real human misery hammer them; when some foolish economic decision delays the onset of an economic recovery hammer them again; and so on; and so on; and so on.
To do so is not “obstructionist.” It is simply the right thing to do.