[Talking Points Memo:]
Nearly half of voters believe that Republicans are deliberately hamstringing efforts to resuscitate the economy in order to bolster their chances of defeating President Barack Obama, according to a new poll released Tuesday.
The latest survey from Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling (PPP), conducted in conjunction with Daily Kos and SEIU, shows that 49 percent of registered voters nationwide think Republicans are “intentionally stalling efforts to jumpstart the economy” to ensure Obama’s defeat in November. Half of all independents surveyed feel the same way.
And it's not just the DC subspecies of the Republican animal who's guilty of this; the state level variety is also playing along, attacking the problem of rising employment and consumer demand by laying off public workers by the truckload. At the federal level, Republicans block any attempt further stimulate the economy (because, contrary to their talking points, the stimulus worked). At the local level, they lay off workers, cut wages and benefits, and do whatever else they can to make sure demand remains weak and unemployment remains high. Then they all join together and complain about poor economic performance and high unemployment. They're making your life suck, so that they can enjoy political gain by complaining that life sucks. And for that, the most charitable assessment I can make of an average elected GOP official is that they're one sick individual. The least charitable is that, by actively working against the best interests of their nation and its people, they're damned close to committing treason. As always, one doesn't necessarily rule out the other.
And the worst part of all this is that Republicans may not pay any penalty for actively working to harm America, as Steve Benen explains:
The level of national cynicism is so intense, many Americans may simply assume Republicans are undermining the national economy deliberately, but take their frustrations out on the president anyway.
Voters' understanding of the political process is quite limited, and many Americans may very well fail to appreciate the role Congress must play in policymaking -- no matter how hard the president fights for job-creation proposals, he needs the approval of lawmakers who are eager, if not desperate, to see him fail.
As a result, there are no doubt plenty of voters thinking, "Sure, Republicans are sabotaging the economy, but why can't Obama just go around them?" unaware of the fact that, on a grand scale, this isn't an option.
And Republicans know this. If they didn't, they wouldn't be using this strategy -- because it would make them the most hated people in America. In 2009, after a meeting between top Republicans and conservative propagandist Frank Luntz, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions screwed up and spilled the beans:
Insurgency we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban. And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes. And these Taliban -- I'm not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban -- no, that's not what we're saying. I'm saying an example of how you go about is to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their front line message. And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with.
Republicans should be like the Taliban. This was the takeaway from the meeting with Luntz. In his book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, Robert Draper covers that meeting and what we learn isn't pretty -- or particularly patriotic. Luntz sat down with Rep. Paul Ryan, Rep. Eric Cantor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Pete Sessions, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Rep. Pete Hoekstra, Rep. Dan Lungren, Sen. Jim DeMint, Sen. Jon Kyl, Sen. Tom Coburn, Sen. John Ensign, Sen. Bob Corker, and Newt Gingrich to discuss how to raise Republicans up -- by tearing Democrats down.
Keep in mind that Luntz isn't a policy wonk. What he does is marketing -- pure and simple, end of story. When you sit down with Frank Luntz, the question isn't "What can we do to help America?" it's "What can we do to help ourselves?" Always. He doesn't do anything else.
And the plan was hatched to ruin Obama by ruining America. Already in dire straits after the debacle that was the Bush presidency, all they really had to do was to make sure the new president got very little done. The abuse of the filibuster reached record levels, Republicans began passionately opposing ideas they'd championed in the past, and manufactured the Tea Party to create a bandwagon for chumps to jump onto.
When you use the word "conspiracy," people tend to laugh and point. But this is a conspiracy. A conspiracy to cripple the US economy merely to win elections. The good news is that the people are onto them.
But the bad news is that they may not fully understand just how destructive the whole thing has been or how disloyal to America the Republican Party has really become.
[image credit: from a photo by sobyrne99, via Flickr]