Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jan 11, 2012 in Business, Economy, Politics, Society | 22 comments

Oh Those Silly Republicans: They Were For Capitalism Before They Were Against It


That grinding sound you hear are the tectonic plates of Republican presidential politics shifting. In what direction and how far they shift may determine whether Mitt Romney has a chance of beating Barack Obama in November. That is if he can survive brutal attacks from some of his opponents.

Although it was not noticeable, the shift began with the burst of Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, first in New York and then in many other cities, beginning in September. Republicans, including Tea Partiers, initially denounced the protests as class warfare and defined them as a clash between capitalism, which they endorsed, and socialism, which they of course believe is the path to purgatory on which Obama has set America.

If there was a discordant note in all of this, it was the support of the Tea Party for a system that is hard-wired to insure that the rich get richer and the middle class poorer, which is exactly what has been happening over the last two decades. But cracks soon began to appear in the Republican facade as more and more Americans said they supported the protests in principle even if they weren’t going to leave the comfy confines of Main Street to camp out with a bunch of smelly hippies.

With Republican bigs sensing a shift in the prevailing winds, they began changing their tune. Attacks accusing the protesters as being “traitors” were muted and some Republicans, while not endorsing the Occupy movement, no longer spoke out against it.

Fast forward to December 6 when President Obama, with an impeccable sense of timing, stepped up to a podium in Osawatomie, Kansas, the town where Teddy Roosevelt had delivered his famous New Nationalism speech in 1910 decrying a Republican economic agenda that favored the rich at the expense of the middle class and poor. Obama delivered a virtually identical message in firing the opening salvo of a re-election campaign based on good old populism.

In presenting himself as the defender of working-class Americans and Republicans as defenders of a small elite, the so-called 1 percenters, Obama in effect rolled a grenade into the Republican presidential tent.

Effects of the explosion were immediate and have continued to reverberate through the early stages of the primary season as presidential wannabes found that their arguments that Obama was responsible for the recession and the loss of millions of jobs, something that many voters have not bought into, were being undercut by his message.

It is Mitt Romney, of course, who has been most vulnerable to that message because of his stewardship of Bain Capital, an equity firm that in the finest tradition of avaricious capitalism, looted company after company, in some cases intentionally bankrupting them and then furloughing workers by the thousands. Some were invited to reapply for jobs that paid less and offered fewer benefits.

One irony of this plate shifting is that Romney’s chief nemeses are Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who finished tied for a distant fourth in New Hampshire in splitting the hard right-wing vote, but have done quite well, thank you, feeding at the very trough where Romney has drunk long and hard. Gingrich is a millionaire while Santorum had nearly a million bucks in income last year without having a steady job.

Another irony is that Gingrich in particular is now spouting the semblance of an anti-capitalism line while joining his opponents in ritually denouncing Obama as being disdainful of individual enterprise.

While Gingrich is legendary for flip-flopping, it was rather startling to hear him ask New Hampshire voters if “capitalism [is] really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of other people and walk off with the money? Or is that somehow a flawed system?”

Never mind that the kind of attacks Gingrich and Santorum are making would have been verboten a few years ago. Whether they will get any traction in South Carolina, where Gingrich’s surrogates have launched a multi-million dollar fusillade of television and print attack ads in the run-up to the January 21 primary, is another matter. This is because every time Gingrich goes after Romney he tramples on his own message, whatever it may be on a given day, and that is the last thing that a candidate verging on being an also-ran wants to do.

There is the possibility that the imbroglio of Bain Capital will peak early and Obama will have used up his most effective weapon. Which Romney had better pray happens because his responses to the attacks recall Herman Cain’s serial bumblings and obfuscations over the sexual harassment allegations against him.

There is is a good chance that the economy will continue to improve, thereby undercutting his message.

In the meantime, and as I note in my earlier post below, Romney’s efforts to brand himself a great friend of the middle class, which he again did last night in his victory speech, ridiculous. And stupid because he is unable to back up preposterous claims that he created 100,000 jobs while head honcho at Bain they further expose him to attacks.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • What a lot of spin. The social conservatives were leery to disdainful of OWS, and are now more unconcerned than anything else. The libertarians were, and still are, sympathetic to their concerns. Very little has changed, really.

    Then to tie them in with attacks on rivals (some of which could be considered hypocritical, but what’s new) is silly. It’s just your normal mud-slinging contest, as the various factions (socons/traditionalists/libertarians) jockey for the advantage. It’s just a little more interesting this year, because there’s a visible shift of power occurring.

  • Prof:

    “It’s just a little more interesting this year, because there’s a visible shift of power occurring.”

    That too is my premise but I believe that it is premature to see where and how far this power shift goes.

    Taking a larger view, if Romney gets the nomination and is clobbered by Obama, conservatives will shriek “We told you so!” and the party will tack even further to the right and away from the electoral mainstream in the run-up to 2016.

    Another gift for the not necessarily deserving Dems.

  • merkin

    I think that the problem with the Newt and Santorum attacks extend a little further than that “some of them might be considered hypocritical.” This is somewhat like dismissing them because they contain bad grammar or a misspelling.

    They point out that the results, the consequences of the standard Republican economic policies are completely opposite of what they say they are, that what we see in today’s economy, that what we have seen in the economy over the last thirty years, income inequality, massive public and private deft and fiscal instability from highly speculative forms of financial dealings, that all of this is the result of their policies, the ones that they are continuing to push.

    That, not to put too fine of a point on it, they are lying about the goals of the policies, that they are lying about the results of the policies, that they are lying about the reasons that they want to continue the policies.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Agree with you one hundred percent, Shaun, with the exception that Gingrich and Santorum ended up tied for a lousy single-digit distant fourth, and with the addition that Gingrich’s increasingly shrill, mean-spirited, hypocritical and often false swiftboating of Romney will begin to backfire on him soon — in addition to providing excellent Democratic material for the general elections.

  • The_Ohioan

    I think ProfE nailed it. I looked at several Tea Party sites, and OWS isn’t even on the radar.

    At a Ron Paul site, there is wary acceptance of some OWS goals.

    http://www.dailypaul.com/182311/ows-anti-american

    The impetus to conflate these two groups is to not really understand either.

  • RP

    Shaun said “Taking a larger view, if Romney gets the nomination and is clobbered by Obama, conservatives will shriek “We told you so!” and the party will tack even further to the right and away from the electoral mainstream in the run-up to 2016.”

    Hopefully this will give added emphasis to a third party that really represents the middle 50% or so of Americans that really do not support either party now. If they vote, they vote for the lessor of two evils, not for someone they really support.

    Dorian said..”in addition to providing excellent Democratic material for the general elections.”

    The campaign this coming year is going to be one of the worst we have ever seen. A good campaign ad manager will be able to develop ads that make Bain Capital sound like a Kremlin run organization. On the other hand, taxpayer moneys going to bankrupt companies like Solyndra can be used to counter attack, making both less effective.

    This election comes down to one thing and one thing only. If the economy continues to grow at 2% or more and the job market appears to be growing after labor day, Obama is reelected. If the economy does not move in this direction, then Romney has a good chance. All the other stuff is secondary including all the negative ads.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    RP says:

    “This election comes down to one thing and one thing only. If the economy continues to grow at 2% or more and the job market appears to be growing after labor day, Obama is reelected. If the economy does not move in this direction, then Romney has a good chance. All the other stuff is secondary including all the negative ads.”

    I tend to agree with you, RP. And in that case the slime that Republicans are throwing on their fellow Republicans will be just icing on the cake.

  • @merkin:”That, not to put too fine of a point on it, they are lying about the goals of the policies, that they are lying about the results of the policies, that they are lying about the reasons that they want to continue the policies.”

    So who’s telling the truth? The fact is that the financial institutions still have more derivatives on their books than there is economy to back them up. Mortgages are going around 4% for 30 years (what sane person would make that kind of loan with their own money?), but are very difficult to get. Medicine, education, and finance are still operating in cartel-like fashions.

    Sure, the Republicans want to leave it alone, but all the Democrats want to do is raise taxes on “the rich”, which ultimately means that they want to leave the rest alone. Whether you sit back in the armchair or throw marshmallows at it — the problems will stick around.

  • dduck

    SM, “tectonic plates”?. More like tempest in a tea pot (or a coffee mug for the liberals).

    Doesn’t Newt know Teddy R lost, but co-opting him was good enough for Obama so why not Newt: if “capitalism [is] really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of other people and walk off with the money? Or is that somehow a flawed system?”

    “Bain Capital will peak early and Obama will have used up his most effective weapon.”
    You got that right.

    Overall a nice piece, Shaun.

  • dduck

    DDW, slime becomes icing on the cake. Ugh.

    Is the bet on? Obama wins I send $10 to Joe. Someone else wins, you send the $10.

  • dorian:

    Places of finish fixed. Danke.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    dduck says:

    “Is the bet on? Obama wins I send $10 to Joe. Someone else wins, you send the $10.”

    You bet you’re on. I am just surprised that with all the GOP certitude on these threads that Obama is toast, no one else has taken me up on the bet — especially since it’s all for a good cause.

  • SteveK

    Mortgages are going around 4% for 30 years (what sane person would make that kind of loan with their own money?)

    With interest rates on Savings Accounts all at +/-1% I’d carry 4% paper for 10 years.

    Edit to add: Same with CD’s

  • DaGoat

    I don’t see class warfare attacks working very well in GOP primaries and that Gingrich and Santorum are taking this tack smacks of desperation. These types of attacks resonate best with people who are already not going to vote for Romney. The question is how they will work with the middle and I don’t know the answer to that. While this could be useful to Obama he has to be careful not to link himself with Gingrich or Santorum too closely as neither is very popular among independents.

    DDW I’m sure not taking your bet. I think Obama wins re-election largely because of the inability of the GOP to come up with candidates that aren’t Cotton Mather or used-car salesmen.

  • Brewhouse Jack

    The comma after “Oh” is missing and it goes downhill from there…

    As far as the antics of other GOP people than Romney go, it’s laughable that they’re now imitating Elizabeth Warren, appealing to loser emotions. The only thing more funny (sick funny) is that they’ll say anything to gain, particularly at Romney’s expense. It’s not limited to the Warren stuff.

    The real decision is or should be on Super Tuesday, and it’s just weird that so many already are rushing to say it’ll be decided for the GOP in South Carolina. Of course, given the quality of the candiates, well…

    I bet many of the others (the non-Romneys who are trying to present themselves as the anti-Romneys) are still hoping to be chosen for VP. They get exposure all next year even if (when) the GOP loses in November. But if they attack too nastily now, what are their prospects later? (Or is the GOP so desperate and screwed up that along with what they’re doing now, they’ll all be in a giant lovefest for and with Romney later?)

    Why haven’t more people said that Huntsman might be many people’s choice or hope for the VP?

    At any rate, Romney haters should be much smarter than they are now. Romney is the selection of the GOP and will probably lose in November, and that should be the end of him. (No doubt Jeb Bush and others know it.)

  • dduck

    DDW, that’s why I am a duck and not a chicken.
    Besides I will cover my potential loss with my winnings on the Giant’s in the Super Bowl.
    “Toast” I think not, maybe a warmed up croissant.

  • While Obama may get some mileage by attacking Bain and private equity firms, it will be hard for Congrssional and Senatorial Democrats to take this approach. Democrats led by Chuck Schumer have resisted taxing private equity carried income at ordinary income rates, allowing it to be considered capital gains. This is a windfall for private equity people that deprives the federal government of billions of dollars.

  • Robert:

    Very good points, and it should not be forgotten — as you remind us — that congressional Democrats share a large part of the blame for allowing Wall Street to run amok. Phil Gramm may have been a Republican, but he had lots of help from the other side of the aisle unshackling banks,mortgage companies and other financial institutions from what little oversight they had.

  • Allen

    I don’t know about hand grenades in the room, but one thing has occurred this time around; The Republicans are out of BS, “wave the flag up your arse”, talking points to placate the masses with monotanous shuck and jive.

    The “debate” is down to the poor against the rich where the “middle class” are among the poor, more than anywhere else, considering personal debt, and, no one that works really believe in the “dream” anymore.

    Lately the media, (CNN), has been pandering the notion the “we” are so “rich” in this country that “we” must be “spoiled” for daring to suggest that there should be any equitable reckoning at all, regarding national standard of living. I cannot tell you how this enrages me. On the basis of healthcare alone our country is Failing! Failing! Failing! Education? Who the hell can work their way through college working for minimum wage? Who can even get a loan to go to college when your only asset is a minimum wage job? Who can afford to pay back the loan after college…even if you make it through?

    I can go on for hours on various subjects, but I wonder, I truly wonder, why the media is allowed to get away with their propaganda crap that is constantly obscuring these facts? Only because there is nobody to expose the media for their backroom deals with leaders and potential leaders of this country AND if this were not so, those “wall street” protester would have been burning George W Bush in effigy! Manhattan would have been on fire like Watts, Detroit, and, Philadelphia in the 1960s.

    Unfortunately they have No Clue what has, and, is happening to them, or whom to blame for it. That alone is the Republican victory the Tea Party seeks. That alone!

  • Ethos

    I continue to wish Ron Paul supporters would join reality. Even if elected there’s no possible way he would be able to accomplish 1/10 of the platform he has proposed.

    It still amazes me the man is supposedly the modern embodiment of constitutional principle and consistency, and yet he is supposed to somehow go over the heads of the other two branches of government to get things he wants done?

    Please join us on planet Earth.

  • @Ethos
    Fantasy land is believing that the status quo can be sustained.

    Paul may not be able to force his plans (who could?), but he can be a voice of reform, a fearsome wielder of the veto pen, and an executive who will not compromise with corruption. He’s the only one who would be pushing against domestic spying, foreign wars, and corporate cronyism. Just having someone who won’t lie to us about our involvement in other countries, our economy, or government finances would be a breath of fresh air.

    Our country’s government is sick — it needs a doctor.

  • dduck

    He is the Don Quixote of the libertarians; old and batty and out of touch with the period of time he is living in. That being said, the core of many of his ideas have genuine value to them, but unfortunately are wrappered in the funny papers, and adjacent to valueless or totally impractical ones.
    Is Rand his Sancho Panza and Lady Liberty his Dulcinea?
    We do need DQs, but the more effective versions please (one bill passed out of over 500).

Twitter Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com