by digby

I'm pretty sure everyone gets this, but in case you don't, the reason that Governors Rick Perry and Mark Sanford are "refusing" to take the stimulus money is because they are running for president. They are making the bet that the economy will either be very bad, in which case they can run against Obama's socialistic policies which ruined the country --- or that the economy will be off the table as an issue and it won't make any difference. (I would guess they are thinking the first is the most likely.)And since their state legislatures will override their "principled" opposition, they know that they won't actually be responsible for denying people unemployment benefits in the worst recession since the great depression. That's what passes for integrity among Republicans.

Of course, they aren't exactly the first to play this sort of game, are they? The Democrats were faced with a similar dilemma in 2002. The presidential hopeful club had to decide whether to support the Iraq war or risk being called unpatriotic and a "captive of the anti-war left" if they didn't. They all voted for it and none of them made it to the White House. Their calculation was wrong on every level, not the least of which is that it was a cynical, political move that cost many lives. That's something they'll have to live with.

It was obvious at the time that the principled vote was also the smart vote: there was no way any Democrat would win in 2004 if the war was going well --- and if it wasn't, having voted for it was not exactly going to be a selling point. That turned out to be true in both 2004 and 2008. The guy who won was the guy who spoke out against the war at the time. The principled move was also the smart move.

The principled position in this case is for the conservatives to admit that this crisis requires government intervention, but that's obviously not on the menu. But these Republican Governors are being saved from such a dilemma by their legislatures, which don't have the luxury at the moment of taking a cynical political position that will result in actual harm to their constituents. If the economy improves by the next presidential election, it's going to be Morning in America redux and they won't have a chance anyway. They have to bet on failure and this is the only way they can really demonstrate in 2012 that they wouldn't have made the "mistakes" Obama is making is by taking an insane position now and pretending that would have made the difference. I don't know if it will work, even if things are still bad in 2012. But it's probably the only thing they've got since their ideology is so bankrupt they literally can't run on anything real.