Oh Really?

Paul Waldman:

This is a time of unusual, even stunning, Republican political incompetence.

[Gloating about 2012 Presidential loss, Fox News unreality, and general hardening of the stances of the Republican batshit crazy core removed]

Think about it this way: Has there been a single instance in the last few years when you said, “Wow, the Republicans really played that one brilliantly”?

No, but every time I see a 5-4 Roberts Court decision, or look at all the sand that’s been thrown in the gears of Obamacare, or hear about state government in Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, or browse the backlog of Senate appointments, or look at the composition of the House, I think they’re playing chess while the Democrats are playing “Go Fish”.

Were Republicans stunningly incompetent when they took over enough statehouses and governor’s mansions to gerrymander themselves into a decade of control of the House? How about when they worked the refs (and some squishy Democratic Senators) on the filibuster so hard that you’d think that the Constitution mandates a 60 vote majority in the Senate? If that’s incompetence, perhaps the Democrats need to become less competent so we can get some of our agenda passed through Congress and signed by the President.

(This is via Kevin Drum, who makes some other good points about why Waldman’s piece is nonsense.)






64 replies
  1. 1
    Hawes says:

    Gerrymandering is bad, but the GOP – the party of exurban whites – will always have a structural advantage in the House. They win exurban districts 56-44 while Democrats win urban districts 80-20. And I do think we’ll see a bloodbath amongst the GOP governors this fall.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    If that’s incompetence, perhaps the Democrats need to become less competent so we can get some of our agenda passed through Congress and signed by the President.

    False equivalency. We have an agenda that is more than “let it burn.” much harder to pull off.

  3. 3
    Hill Dweller says:

    They can’t govern worth a shit nor advocate effective policies, but they’re brilliant at propaganda and/or preventing anyone else from governing effectively. Throw in the sociopaths, otherwise known as the Beltway press, who are more interested in their dinner party invitations than making their viewers more informed citizens, and we get the current dumpster fire.

  4. 4
    Lolis says:

    Eh, you can’t convince me it is chess to oppose any type of immigration reform and hate on women/minorities so much. Republicans have more reliable off year voting constituencies. That is all.

  5. 5
    ericblair says:

    @Baud:

    False equivalency. We have an agenda that is more than “let it burn.” much harder to pull off.

    Correct: when your agenda consists of “chocolate cake for breakfast”, “dark people are scary”, and “pants the nerds”, it’s a lot easier to sell and pull off.

  6. 6
    TheDudeAbides says:

    Considering the FDL/Dkos crowd were actually urging Democrats not to vote in 2010, I don’t think progressives have anyone to blame but themselves for 2010 consequences.

  7. 7
    Bobby Thomson says:

    God damn motherfucking autoplay ads.

  8. 8
    Baud says:

    @Lolis:

    Republicans have more reliable off year voting constituencies.

    This can’t be emphasized enough.

  9. 9
    gene108 says:

    Think about it this way: Has there been a single instance in the last few years when you said, “Wow, the Republicans really played that one brilliantly”?

    Project Red State in 2010.

    Link

    Another Link

  10. 10
    Keith G says:

    There are those who credit Obama playing a long game. However it is been the partisan organizers and money people behind the GOP who have been playing a long game since the mid 1970s. Many of my compadres on the left like to consider themselves as being better people with better ideas, but it is been the GOP who have accomplished so much more than their numbers suggest by being there on the ground just willing to do whatever work is necessary to get their desires acted on.

    We can laugh at those noisy teebagger demonstrations with their badly spelled protest signs, but for a while they had Congress people of both parties cowed.

  11. 11
    cervantes says:

    Not to mention the CW is still that the Republicans will take the Senate in the fall. Everything they do is purportedly unpopular and stupid and crazy, yet they win elections.

  12. 12
    ruemara says:

    They may be insane, but they’re not quitters and they’ve never stopped pushing their agenda. If the left had half their drive and determination, the past 30 years would have been different.

  13. 13
    rikyrah says:

    2010 was one of the last gasps of the Southern Strategy.

    And, let’s be for real. If we didn’t have a MSM that went along with the GOP, instead of pointing out that they committed ECONOMIC TREASON against this country beginning January 20, 2009….

    well…

  14. 14
    Mike E says:

    And NC, also. Too. It ain’t just sabotage; the confluence of overreach and incompetence is especially pungent here, our own special version of the W admin.

  15. 15
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    every time I see a 5-4 Roberts Court decision, or look at all the sand that’s been thrown in the gears of Obamacare, or hear about state government in Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, or browse the backlog of Senate appointments, or look at the composition of the House, I think they’re playing chess while the Democrats are playing “Go Fish”.

    The root cause of all of these things, especially the damnable Roberts Court, is an absolute refusal by Democrats to do what the Republicans have been doing to us since 2006 – drawing a line in the sand and saying “our way or no way”.

    And as far as I can tell, Dems are afraid to do this because people will call them mean names. It certainly wouldn’t cost us any Republican/”Independent” votes that we would never get anyway.

  16. 16
    Mandalay says:

    I think they’re playing chess while the Democrats are playing “Go Fish”

    I thought the best example to prove Drum’s case was one of the comments that followed his piece:

    They have pulled the liberals and the Democrats to the right with them.

    What was right wing lunacy twenty or thirty years ago has become conventional wisdom now, especially with regard to taxes. And it has become conventional wisdom because Democrats rolled over and allowed Republicans to move the goalposts.

  17. 17
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    The whole McConnell-Cantor plan of total obstruction was grounded in their understanding that making government not work was good for them as a brand (government bad!) and in a world where people hate Congress but tend to vote for their incumbent, and where the cult of the Presidency is so strong. Chris Matthews has spent his entire adult life working in politics, is largely supportive of Obama and has many time called Republicans out for their obstructionism, but a few weeks ago he threw a ten minute tantrum at Elizabeth Warren because Obama hasn’t done anything on infrastructure or a jobs program. The American electorate is, unfortunately, not unlike Tweety when it comes to feeling vs thinking with regard to politics.

  18. 18
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    @Bobby Thomson: I hear you. No wait, I can’t hear over the autoplay ad.

  19. 19
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    The whole McConnell-Cantor plan of total obstruction was grounded in their understanding that making government not work was good for them as a brand (government bad!) and in a world where people hate Congress but tend to vote for their incumbent, and where the cult of the Presidency is so strong. Chris Matthews has spent his entire adult life working in politics, is largely supportive of Obama and has many time called Republicans out for their obstructionism, but a few weeks ago he threw a ten minute tantrum at Elizabeth Warren because Obama hasn’t done anything on infrastructure or a jobs program. The American electorate is, unfortunately, not unlike Tweety when it comes to feeling vs thinking with regard to politics.

  20. 20
    Roger Moore says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    an absolute refusal by Democrats to do what the Republicans have been doing to us since 2006 – drawing a line in the sand and saying “our way or no way”.

    That’s a much easier strategy when your way is to do nothing. The Republicans can plausibly threaten to destroy the government because destroying the government is their long-term goal. The Democrats can’t credibly threaten the same thing because they want a government that works, and blowing shit up is doing the Republicans a favor.

  21. 21
    WaterGirl says:

    @Bobby Thomson: @Iowa Old Lady: Two words: Ad Block

  22. 22
    Baud says:

    @Mandalay:

    It’s really an idiotic criticism. Obama allowed most of the Bush tax cuts on high incomes to expire and raised taxes to pay for Obamacare. Democrats are also constantly proposing to pay for programs by closing special tax breaks. They have not adopted the GOP position on taxes.

  23. 23
    ThresherK says:

    @cervantes: I would suggest that part of the CW is that “the GOP won” no matter the year, the contest, the strategy, or the outcome.

    The manner in which their losses are handwaved away is stunning.

  24. 24
    Violet says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: I use FlashBlock because Flash was messing with my computer. It works great. No autoplay anything.

  25. 25
    gene108 says:

    @ruemara:

    If the left had half their drive and determination

    The difference is money.

    There are no liberal billionaires (if they exist), who are willing to lose millions every year to underwrite Movement Liberalism.

    There are plenty of conservative billionaires, who are willing to lose millions of dollars a year, to advance Movement Conservatism.

    We may mock “wingnut welfare”, but it allows ideas discredited by facts or ideas that are just fucking nuts to continuously be advanced into the public domain as “very serious ideas”.

  26. 26
    WaterGirl says:

    @cervantes: Aren’t you usually capitalized? Or are you not the usual cervantes?

  27. 27
    anonymus says:

    Adds? What adds?

  28. 28
    ruemara says:

    @gene108: I think Cantor’s race disproved the money theory. You don’t need advertising to tell you go out and vote. You don’t need radio ads to tell you to spend a little time on your desired issues. You certainly shouldn’t need millionaires funding you getting off your ass and doing something. I refuse to accept that money is the root of pure political gains, because we out worked money in 2008 & 2012. We showed up and beat millionaires. By saying money, you ignore that our losses are when we don’t show up.

  29. 29
    SatanicPanic says:

    I think they’re playing chess while the Democrats are playing “Go Fish”.

    Nonsense. They’re both playing the same game, but Republicans are cheating and threatening to tip over the table when they get caught.

    Shit dude, blatantly partisan SCOTUS decisions aren’t evidence of good strategy. They’re evidence of lack of shame.

  30. 30
    aimai says:

    @gene108: Yes. Exactly. The Koch Brothers alone are responsible for most of the drive and money behind many (if not all) of what we think of as right wing activism. The left has nothing like those deep pockets.

  31. 31
    gogol's wife says:

    @WaterGirl:

    The site needs to be fixed. Anyone who comes here to see what it’s like and gets one of those ads is probably never coming back.

  32. 32
    cokane says:

    i think Waldman has a point though. That Republicans have failed at convincing the general public and have also failed to implement any of their policies. Aside from some remnant of the Bush tax cuts and Medicare part D, there really hasn’t been any national Republican policy that has passed and will have a lasting effect.

  33. 33
    SatanicPanic says:

    @cokane: Yeah, I don’t see what the problem is with what Waldman’s saying. The Republican party isn’t even showing interest in expanding beyond current membership. Which works right now because you have a giant cohort of old people trying to protect their position in society. But going forward that’s not a winning coalition. It’s not even really a winning coalition right now.

  34. 34
    gene108 says:

    @ruemara:

    I refuse to accept that money is the root of pure political gains, because we out worked money in 2008 & 2012.

    You do realize, in 2008, pre-CU, Obama shattered every conceivable expectation of what is possible in political fundraising?

    Per this Wiki Link Obama doubled up McCain in fundraising.

    If you think money was not a major factor in Obama being able to have field operations everywhere, effectively use technology, etc. you are missing something very basic in American politics: Money is a HUGE factor.

    It may not be the only factor, but to win consistently you need money.

    You have Cantor’s loss, Jesse Ventura’s win as governor of MN, etc., but these seem to be more one-off situations than a sustainable theme in American politics.

    If Al Gore had won in 2000, he would have been the first Presidential candidate to win the White House, who did not raise more money than his opponent, since they started keeping track in the 1970’s.

    You certainly shouldn’t need millionaires funding you getting off your ass and doing something.

    What the billionaires are doing is forcing people to fight the noise. Supply side economics, the Laffer curve, tax-cuts pay for themselves, privatizing Social Security and host of other ideas discredited by facts exist as ideas of “very serious people” because rich people pay for those ideas to be put into the public sphere.

    We are talking about things based on a conservative framework because they put the money into controlling the media. They do not care, if their media outlets make them money. The savings in lower capital gains taxes off-sets the chump-change of a few million dollars needed to fund think tanks, publications, “grass roots” organizations, etc.

    Instead of focusing on issues that matter to everyday people, we are fighting on issues that impact the very rich, because they use their money to control the debate.

    70% of people, and a majority of Republicans, support raising the minimum wage, but damn if that’s going to get through Congress. Why? The rich have the ability to demagogue that raising the minimum wage will destroy the economy.

    They’ve done this with regards to universal heatlhcare coverage for decades.

    Money is about being able to control the ideas people see on the T.V.,, read in the newspapers, etc. It is not the end all and be all of politics, but it plays a huge roll in why we cannot have nice things.

  35. 35
    Emma says:

    The problem is that, while “the Left” has always been a loose coalition of groups, “the Right” is a drone army. Even the people who are actively harmed by Republican policies end up voting with them 99% of the time. They have managed it by pitching their rhetoric to the lizard brain. Now a percentage of them are running around bemoaning the results but at the end of the day the lizard brain is stronger.

  36. 36
    WaterGirl says:

    @gogol’s wife: I agree. Cole posted something about this the other night, and someone else posted about some malware that was affecting WP sites and wondered about that as the cause.

    Cole has bigger fish to fry at the moment but he’s not an idiot, so I’m guessing that he has asked mistermix or someone else to take the lead on looking into it.

  37. 37
    Mnemosyne says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    Shit dude, blatantly partisan SCOTUS decisions aren’t evidence of good strategy. They’re evidence of lack of shame.

    This.

    Also, I think a lot of people are conflating success at the ballot box with success in actually governing. You can marvel at the Republicans’ success in getting their candidates’ asses into seats while still pointing out that their actual policies are a fucking disaster. Scott Walker survived a recall election, but Wisconsin has the lowest job growth in the region. Sam Brownback may well get tossed out on his ear in Kansas because his determination to stick with right-wing economic policies tanked their economy. Etc.

  38. 38
    Mandalay says:

    @Baud:

    They have not adopted the GOP position on taxes.

    Oh really?

    Which prominent Democrat politicians are actively arguing to increase taxes on the super rich? Nobody. Which prominent Democrat politicians apart from Cuomo are actively arguing to increase the minimum wage for tipped workers (which has been stuck at $2.13 since 1991 FFS)? Nobody. Which prominent Democrat politicians apart from Warren are actively arguing that the increasing disparity between rich and poor has real and adverse consequences? Nobody. Which prominent Democrat politicians are actively trying to end hiding income through offshore tax havens? Nobody. Which prominent Democrat politicians are making the case for reducing our insane spending on defense? Nobody.

    The only area I see Democrats taking on the Republicans is in preventing companies moving their headquarters overseas to reduce their taxes, and even that will probably go nowhere unless they agree to Republican demands to lower corporation taxes.

    Blame Republicans for those situations all you like, but they only win because Democrats don’t fight them, and that is because Democrats are terrified of being branded as the party of taxes.

  39. 39
    SatanicPanic says:

    @gene108:

    70% of people, and a majority of Republicans, support raising the minimum wage, but damn if that’s going to get through Congress. Why? The rich have the ability to demagogue that raising the minimum wage will destroy the economy.

    You’re contradicting yourself here

  40. 40
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gene108:

    If Al Gore had won in 2000, he would have been the first Presidential candidate to win the White House, who did not raise more money than his opponent, since they started keeping track in the 1970′s.

    Slight correction — Al Gore did win the popular vote, so technically the candidate who raised less money won the election. But Bush’s extra money got him the ability to cheat the system.

  41. 41
    gene108 says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    Used some Google-fu, I guess I misremembered what I’d read about Republicans supporting raising the minimum wage.

  42. 42
    Mandalay says:

    @gene108: What you said. Money controls the debate, and also who gets to become politicians. Cantor’s loss was an anomaly.

    Remember that clueless fuckwit Republican Clawson who thought he was speaking to representatives of the Indian government the other day? Wonder how he got elected? Easy….he loaned his campaign almost $4 million, and effectively bought himself the seat. The richest get to win.

  43. 43
    ruemara says:

    @gene108:

    Per this Wiki Link Obama doubled up McCain in fundraising.

    If you think money was not a major factor in Obama being able to have field operations everywhere, effectively use technology, etc. you are missing something very basic in American politics: Money is a HUGE factor.

    And it’s not the only factor. Increase in participation, increase in donation, increase in voting. Your initial statement was that the problem was money. I’m saying that the problem is consistent participation. You’re still saying that root cause is money, I’m still saying that the problem is participation. Money is a factor, but the problem is participation and persistence, which the right wing has had in droves, even when they were the unfunded lunatics not allowed inside the party conventions.

  44. 44
    Roger Moore says:

    @Emma:

    The problem is that, while “the Left” has always been a loose coalition of groups, “the Right” is a drone army.

    This is way overstated. The right is also a coalition, which is the source of the tensions between the establishment and Tea Party wings of the party. They are a tighter coalition with fewer members, but they have their own issues where the different parts of the coalition can’t agree.

  45. 45
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Mandalay:

    You used “Democrat” as an adjective five times. Once I could overlook. Five? You sound like Rick Perry.

  46. 46
    SatanicPanic says:

    @gene108: I’m just nit-picking. If you can demagogue on something, it means it has popular support. Republicans are doing the opposite- they’re blocking a popular policy. The fact that they’re not paying a political price on it is mostly because they have a rabid minority supporting them.

  47. 47
    Tim C. says:

    The GOP coalition is just such a mix of greed (old guard country club types), fear (racist neo-confederates) and crazy, (fundamentalist Christians), that they are stuck. Add in the fox news positive feedback loop of purity, that I’m not sure how their party can really survive past 2020. Add in the fact climate change is accelerating and the GOP is firmly and obviously on the side of maximum denial….

  48. 48
    WaterGirl says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Good call.

  49. 49
    canegiallo says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: I browse with the sound turned off. Just turn it on when you need it.

  50. 50
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Mandalay: I largely agree with you that Democrats are exceptionally gun-shy when it comes to issues of taxation (and, not exactly ironically, on guns). That said, in recent years we actually saw a winning argument about raising taxes on the rich: the notion that they weren’t paying their “fair share.” If Democrats had adopted wholesale the Republican position on taxes, that argument wouldn’t have carried the day.

    I don’t think many Democratic politicians are actively and enthusiastically pro-taxation as a matter of principle. But a lot of them have embraced the idea that there are people who ought to pay more. And that is decidedly NOT any Republican’s position on taxation. (The Republican position on taxes is that everyone is always paying too much in taxes, except poor people, who should pay more than nothing.)

    But was there ever a time when Democrats _did_ talk about tax increases unabashedly? The only moments I remember are Mondale ’84 and Bruce Babbitt ’88. And both of them were flying in the face of conventional wisdom because they were long shots. And both of them got whacked for it.

  51. 51
    Emma says:

    @Roger Moore: At the end of the day they vote for the Republican candidate and in politics that’s what counts.

  52. 52
    Roger Moore says:

    @Emma:
    And at the end of the day, the Democrats wind up voting for Democratic candidates. The idea that the Republicans are an army of drones is something you get from being an outsider and not seeing as much about their internal politics. There are clearly big differences of opinion within the party that produce all kinds of conflict, and we’re now starting to see that conflict come out in the open more.

  53. 53
    LAC says:

    @ericblair:

    ericblair says:
    July 27, 2014 at 12:18 pm
    @Baud:
    False equivalency. We have an agenda that is more than “let it burn.” much harder to pull off.
    Correct: when your agenda consists of “chocolate cake for breakfast”, “dark people are scary”, and “pants the nerds”, it’s a lot easier to sell and pull off.

    And apparently easier to admire when one is myopic, as some of our “progressives” are.

  54. 54
    efgoldman says:

    Feckless Democrats
    Evil Republicans
    Money
    This thing, that thing, the other thing.

    It’s the way Madison and his buddies wrote the constitution, whether they meant it (certainly not to this extent) or not. The constitution is full of choke points.
    All bills to raise revenue (taxes) must originate in the House.
    Every bill must pass both houses to become law.
    Each house makes its own rules (allowing the filibuster)
    The Senate must advise and consent to nominations.
    Two-thirds of the Senate must approve any treaty
    The president can veto any bill, and two-thirds votes of both houses are required to override.

    It is much easier to keep anything from being done, than to get anything done. It takes a certain mindset to get elected and go to Washington with that purpose, but there we are.

  55. 55
    Cervantes says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    But was there ever a time when Democrats _did_ talk about tax increases unabashedly? The only moments I remember are Mondale ’84 and Bruce Babbitt ’88.

    Paul Tsongas in ’92, asked why his economic proposals included no tax cuts, said he wasn’t running to be elected Santa Claus.

    George McGovern in ’72 focused his economic proposals on tax reform and redistribution of income. His tax reforms included increasing taxes on the very wealthy and eliminating lucrative corporate tax loopholes introduced mostly by Nixon.

    Two examples. There are some others.

  56. 56
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Bobby Thomson: FlashBlock plug-in is your friend. You will get a button arrow to push to play the blocked item.

  57. 57
    Kerry Reid says:

    @ruemara: Ah-yup.

  58. 58
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Cervantes: What else do all those people have in common? All losers. It’s not hard to figure out how Democrats became wary of this.

  59. 59
    Matt McIrvin says:

    …That said, Obama’s platform in 2008 did quite explicitly involve income tax increases for the rich. And people freaked out about it. But he did win.

  60. 60
    low-tech cyclist says:

    I think they’re playing chess while the Democrats are playing “Go Fish”.

    No, it’s not that the GOP is playing a more sophisticated game. It’s that the Dems are playing on the old calendar of where people supposedly aren’t paying attention other than after Labor Day in an election year, and giving short shrift to levels below national, but the GOP is playing continuously and relentlessly, and at all levels.

    The worst thing Obama has done was to tell Dem activists to sit down and shut up after the 2008 elections, so that we wouldn’t joggle his elbow during negotiations with Congress over health care.

    It had seemed to me that between netroots activism and the 50-state project, we were really getting somewhere during the 2005-08 period in terms of a more continuous, widespread activity level. But instead of continuing to build on that during the Obama Presidency, the 50-state project was junked by Rahm, the grassroots and netroots were told to pipe down, and all that great momentum was dissipated.

    My takeaway is that the next 50-state project should be one run by progressives with the object of a better, more successful Democratic party, rather than by the Democratic Party itself. And the work of finding and funding candidates to match our priorities should be continuous, as should efforts by progressives to define the issues that an election really should be about.

  61. 61
    Cervantes says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    It’s not hard to figure out how Democrats became wary of this.

    It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion, yes, except that …

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Obama’s platform in 2008 did quite explicitly involve income tax increases for the rich. And people freaked out about it. But he did win.

    Exactly.

  62. 62
    Cervantes says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    My takeaway is that the next 50-state project should be one run by progressives with the object of a better, more successful Democratic party, rather than by the Democratic Party itself. And the work of finding and funding candidates to match our priorities should be continuous, as should efforts by progressives to define the issues that an election really should be about.

    Could not agree more. If you have noticed discussion and activity of this sort anywhere, it might be good to make a list and spread the word.

    Thanks.

  63. 63
    Stonetools says:

    What happened in 2008 was that Obama thought that the war had been won and that it was time for the Demicrats to be magnanimous victors because surely the Republicans realized that they were doing it all wrong. Unfortunately the Republicans conceded nothing. They didn’t retreat: they reloaded. By the time Obama realized that he wasn’t negotiating a peace treaty but that he was still at war the 2010 elections were here and he was being overrun. Even then he was still in kumbah yah mode because he believed his own bullsh1t about reconciliation and there being only one America etc. It wasn’t until the 2012 election that he realized that he was truly at war with an enemy that would take no quarter and would give none. A problem too is that there was and is a mainstream media that was reluctant to take sides by pointing out that one side was doing all the obstructing and was 100 per cent wrong on everything. Indeed half of that media was simply a propoganda arm of the Republicans.

  64. 64
    taylormattd says:

    @Stonetools:

    A problem too is that there was and is a mainstream media that was reluctant to take sides by pointing out that one side was doing all the obstructing and was 100 per cent wrong on everything. Indeed half of that media was simply a propoganda arm of the Republicans.

    This is the entire problem. All of it.

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