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Monday, June 13, 2011

Pietism in the face

by digby

Oh God. Get ready for some lugubrious sanctimony like you've never seen before from the the Republicans. I don't know whether or not I can take it:

Here's another example from the noted empathetic altruist Rich Lowry:

Pres. Barack Obama is given to cute vehicular metaphors about the state of the economy. We were “in a ditch,” then got out and hit a “bump in the road.” This is studiously folksy. It also vastly understates the nature of our situation.

President Obama is presiding over an unspooling social catastrophe in the form of unemployment, and especially long-term unemployment. For all those people who are chronically unemployed, it’s as if they have been hit by the proverbial car and then backed over by it again and again.

Now many liberals are going to immediately roll their eyes and proclaim such over-the-top sentiment to be absurd. (And coming from Romney the job killer, it is). But it would be a mistake to underestimate the power of this message and if Romlenty can successfully persuade people that they feel their pain and will offer solutions, it will make a race.

As Dave Johnson wrote today:

In the middle of the worst job crisis since the Depression many Democrats forgot about jobs and got all in a tizzy about cutting budgets. All the usual suspects made a lot of noise about deficit reduction, and the cocktail-party and dinner-party circuits all knowingly nodded and told each other they were so smart, they could see that these entitlements were killing the country, these deficits were killing the country, these entitlements were killing the country... So in the DC bubble many Democrats forgot about who and where those deficits came from (tax cuts, military spending and an economic crash caused by deregulation), and got caught up instead worrying about how to cut budgets. And now, wham, the trap is sprung, Republicans are campaigning on how Democrats didn't provide jobs.

GOP strategist Alex Castellanos telegraphed this last fall:

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Priority No. 1 for the Republicans is going to be an agenda for jobs and growth, and that's what they're going to try to put, I think, on the table.

BLITZER: Does that mean repealing the health-care law?

CASTELLANOS: I think the health-care law is going to be part of that, but it's not going to be, I think, what you see on day one. We don't want to fall in the same traps, I think, the Democrats did, which is they spent the year they should have been talking about the economy talking about health care. We don't want to flip that problem on its head.

Johnson sees the release of the Ryan plan as a trap and maybe they were that smart. But I doubt it. They just got lucky with unemployment taking a turn for the worse and the administration's fumbling. But there's no doubt it gives them a weapon to hit the President over the head with, something that would be far less potent if the White House had stayed focused on the economy directly instead of the abstract nonsense about deficits. They are the ones who had the most to lose politically if the economy went south, after all.

The sad fact is that the President has not conveyed a sense that he cares passionately about the problem of unemployment and very, very foolishly bought into the finance boys' advice that the key to economic success was in the hands of the bond vigilantes and confidence fairies. The "recovery summer" stuff last year was hubristic in the extreme and they are now heading into the election having to face this dolorous bullshit from people we know can't wait to enact politics that will make things even worse. And the way the pendulum has been swinging I wouldn't count on it not working. They need to get their act together quickly or this may not be the cakewalk that I and everyone else have assumed it was going to be.