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Posted by on Feb 15, 2016 in 2016 Elections, 2016 Presidential Election, Politics | 13 comments

Are These People Capable?


The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has given rise to yet another crisis in the United States. These days, when it comes to governing, America seems to be in a continual state of crisis. And, Paul Krugman writes, the reason can be laid squarely at the feet of the Republican Party:

On the substantive divide between the parties: I still encounter people on the left (although never on the right) who claim that there’s no big difference between Republicans and Democrats, or at any rate “establishment” Democrats. But that’s nonsense. Even if you’re disappointed in what President Obama accomplished, he substantially raised taxes on the rich and dramatically expanded the social safety net; significantly tightened financial regulation; encouraged and oversaw a surge in renewable energy; moved forward on diplomacy with Iran.

Any Republican would undo all of that, and move sharply in the opposite direction. If anything, the consensus among the presidential candidates seems to be that George W. Bush didn’t cut taxes on the rich nearly enough, and should have made more use of torture.

There is a fundamental divide between the two parties. And that’s because one of the parties has descended into lunacy:

Beyond that, there are huge differences in tactics and attitudes. Democrats never tried to extort concessions by threatening to cut off U.S. borrowing and create a financial crisis; Republicans did. Democrats don’t routinely deny the legitimacy of presidents from the other party; Republicans did it to both Bill Clinton and Mr. Obama. The G.O.P.’s new Supreme Court blockade is, fundamentally, in a direct line of descent from the days when Republicans used to call Mr. Clinton “your president.”

Now the Republicans are claiming that Barack Obama has no right to nominate someone to the Supreme Court in the last year of his presidency — although that’s precisely what Ronald Reagan did in the last year of his presidency. Twenty years later, Anthony Kennedy is the only swing vote on the Court. How long is the Court supposed to remain evenly divided?

And, after the last Republican debate — which seemed to continually return to the refrain, “You lie” — you have to ask yourself, are these people capable of governing the most powerful nation on earth?

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  • Slamfu


  • I think most of what you say is true. It’s not so much that they can’t govern but the rabid Republican base won’t let them. They know if they try to govern which will require compromise they know they will be primaried by some Tea Party nut job (see Dick Lugar).

  • JSpencer

    Slam and Ron are right imo, “they” are not capable, and/or they are cowards. Krugman is also right about those who cling to the fiction there is no big difference between democrats and republicans. The lure of that dismissive shrug has been exposed time and time again, but we still see it bubbling up on a regular basis. That republicans openly and proudly state they want to undo everything Obama has done to extricate us from the dark days of GWB is proof of their lunacy. Facts don’t matter to frothing tribalists; apparently the future of the country doesn’t matter to them either.

  • dduck

    Agree, they are totally unfit, and Hillary will fix it all.

    • JSpencer

      A big fat period after “unfit” would have been nice. I realize the Hillary comment was intended as snark, but we know there is no candidate who can “fix it all”. Hillary would at least protect (and possibly further) the advances made under Obama, and would also make sane Supreme Ct. appointments.

      • dduck

        Actually, I was going to put quotation marks around fix, but my kinder self stopped me. 🙂
        Don’t you guys realize that sometimes you use really over the top rhetoric, and that diminishes the power of your arguments, which, BTW, are generally correct. I, in turn, try to provide backlash, with some humor/snarkiness in response.

        • JSpencer

          OK, I’ll try not to take things so literally. 😉

          • dduck

            You are a gentleman.

    • Slamfu

      While I don’t think anyone has any illusions about Clinton or Sanders fixing it all, I’d settle for a President that just treads water and doesn’t screw anything up as opposed to one that is espousing policies that will almost certainly exacerbate just about every issue we have in this country today. Which from what I can tell applies to every single one of the GOP options before us.

  • Krugman does a good job providing specific examples showing why “they both do it equally” ignores recent history. There are many more.

    As hated as W. was by Democrats, every one of his major initiatives (tax cuts, Iraq war vote, No Child Left Behind, Medicare part D, TARP) got significant Democratic support in Congress. Contrast that with the unanimous opposition by Republicans in Congress to everything Obama proposed, even those that originated as Republican ideas/policies (e.g. Affordable Care Act, 1/3 of stimulus package was tax cuts).

    Ornstein and Mann, the gold standard in DC for non-partisan commentary, said it best:

    We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

    The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

    When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

    • JSpencer

      Ornstein and Mann provided some welcome vindication for those of us who had been pointing out the fallacies of the “both sides” meme for so many years. I only wish they’d written their book sooner.

  • Eh- There Seems to be a a repeated refrain to stifle debate among Liberals/ Democrats. Don’t say bad stuff, or it will be used by the GOP in the general!!! Like they wouldn’t use this stuff anyway? Bringing up how Dems went along with GW also doesn’t really help the concerns of people like me that there isn’t enough difference between the policies supported by the parties.
    I will say that Obama doesn’t get enough credit for what he did get through. I’m surprised at the amount of people who don’t realize that cap gains was raised along with the additional Medicare tax. Dems don’t seem to want to talk about it- when they should! That’s the type of thing that makes us think ‘republican lite’. Don’t discuss how we raised taxes!!! Eh.

    We have primaries for a reason- so that the people have a voice in the direction of the party and the candidates chosen to represent us. What seems to be true across the spectrum is that a lot of us don’t feel represented. Where’s the response to that? Where’s the debate in the press about the various policies between our current candidates?

    One of the things I really like about Bernie is that he generally stays away from hot button social issues. Remove guns and abortions, and where do the majority disagree? bmBoth sides seem to actually agree on how to solve these issues “pass laws to keep this person from doing this thing that I don’t like” and the argument back “passing laws won’t work and you will just drive this thing you don’t like underground” (in some variation or another). Meanwhile, $ in politics grows, and the majority of this country is frustrated with a stagnant workers economy and failures of our government to act in our interests. The ogliarchy wins when you are busy being worried about my uterus and I am busy worried about what kind of gun you are carrying. Abortions are on the decrease. Gun violence is on the decrease. (The majority of gun deaths are self inflicted)

    When I ask people why they support their candidate- Bernie supporters are the ones who talk about policy that I care about. Trump will somehow ‘make America great again’; Kasich isn’t crazy; Hillary has experience (and a vagina). Jeb! I honestly haven’t heard from a person supporting him-but I suppose he would fall under ‘not crazy’. Cruz seems to be a favorite among those who really want a Theocracy, even if they won’t admit it (that would be a true revolution).

    Most Republicans I know personally are decent, fairly normal people who are being told on a daily basis that they are under attack. We need to be reaching out on issues that can be agreed upon, and not keep pushing narratives that create false divisions.

    • “Most Republicans I know personally are decent, fairly normal people who are being told on a daily basis that they are under attack”

      Yes they are… but they also choose to listen to people that tell them they are under attack. There are people in my family, whom I love, they truly believe the Obama is Muslim and is trying to turn America towards Sharia law. Where do they ever get this idea?? not local news.

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