Saturday, April 7, 2012

2012 GOP -- When Sweet Temptations Grow Cold

Dreams, Nightmares and Toothaches

This MeanMesa posting is made in the first week of April, 2012.  The general election in November is seven months in the future.  Like most interested Americans, MeanMesa has watched the daily episodes of the "little circus of horrors" into which the Republican Primaries have steadfastly and relentlessly transformed themselves.

Further, plenty -- perhaps, too many --  progressive comments have already accompanied the dizzying descent of the Grand Old Party.  Every liberal voice from the painful laments of the deep breathing, hand wringing "death of democracy" types to those bravely churning the zany escapades into to "comedy butter" for progressive radio shows has slowly encountered a painful void of further, possible  commentary, that is, a conceptual vacuum of "anything more to add."

MeanMesa has no intention of simply joining in with the complaints,  adding more "feathers to the fire."

Instead, it's high time to look carefully at what, exactly, the owners of the Republican Party were dreaming that this April might deliver.  You know, the dreams that bunch was exciting themselves with a year ago.  What did they see as they imagined what April of 2012 would appear to be in their fantasies?

For convenience, let's call this phenomenon their "April Dream."

Damn!  It's already April, and we were supposed to be WINNING! (image source)

 GOP "April Dream" Number One:
Obama Destroyed

When we visited the Republicans in April of 2011, a year ago, we would have found America's richest -- and most ambitious -- citizens in a state of optimistic excitement.  Some of the relentless media attacks on the President were beginning to show promise.  The saturation campaign had introduced any number of grotesque, carefully designed "prevarication gambits" through the controlled media.  Some had flopped in a few days, but others had slowly gained traction with the uninformed and uninterested citizens, still deep in the throes of the national calamity of 2008.

For a while, it seemed that any message which could be reduced to a bumper sticker phrase was "good enough."  The manufactured image of the President certainly included plenty of "red meat" issues, that is, incendiary propositions which would not bear even the most casual investigation.  These would be the Kenyan, socialist, Reverend Wright "hate America," palling around with terrorists sort of messages.

Neither the elite Republicans who were paying to broadcast these messages nor the majority of American voters who heard them took this stuff seriously.  However, as per design, the least educated among the Republican base loved it. 

This mixed, incomplete reception did not discourage the owners.  They knew full well before hand that the best that could be expected from this ridiculous move was targeting only the lowest of the "low hanging fruit" among their base.  Anyone even slightly more skeptical would, most likely, not be particularly interested and certainly not persuaded.

However, this left the "slightly higher low hanging fruit" as the next target.  Adding no more than one half a teaspoon of restrained sophistication to the "red meat recipe,"  the same media asset began to work on the group next to the bottom.  With these messages, a little over simplified, not especially accurate ideological inertia could be scratched out with the semi-conscious among the party's followers.

Here, Obama had to be cast as an "out of touch" incompetent -- "in over his head." Naturally, the inevitable contradiction with the facts of his administration's successes were not a problem.  Facts cease to be a hindrance when those facts are unknown -- and, not just "unknown," but also actively and  deliberately distorted and misreported.  With this target, the blame game could also be initiated.  In no time, Obama had handed over the bank bailout of TARP money, done everything possible to wreck the stock market (which was doubling in value) and sold out the American Dream with dozens of broken promises.

Moving up the chain from "lowest" and "not quite so low" among the "low hanging fruit" in the GOPCon base, we find Republican voters who are both mildly interested in the substance of such messages and, shall we say, ostensibly fairly literate.  The propaganda to this bunch had to amount to more than birth certificates and secret Muslimhood -- those cheap shots could, reasonably, only be expected to work on the American Legion beer hall crowd.

Naturally, slightly more complex topics cam to the fore.  Health care reform offered all sorts of possibilities for misinterpretation, and the stubborn economic disaster set a fertile foundation for engendering all sorts of dread and desolation.

By April, these plutocrats imagined, the public image of Obama would have veered to a dismal low, consistent with that of the tea bags and FOX pundits.  In fact, the comment was made in progressive circles that these relentless efforts had created a "caricature" of Obama, foretelling serious political problems when the "actual" Obama was finally encountered in the general election.

Among the Republican base the substantial number of "pure, cutural racists" remain comfortably committed to "following orders," especially when routinely inflamed by the owners of the party.  However, a minority of these voters is actually being stripped away by events.  They have become more willing to set aside their racial hatred of Obama in hopes that some of the administration's recovery efforts will actually bear fruit.

So, what is the "actual" Obama the Republicans had hoped so much to have laid to waste by this time?

Admittedly, "approval numbers" tend to be a flippant measure of election outcomes, but they will serve here.  The "background approval rating" of the President has been increasing steadily while the same rating for any of the likely Republican nominees has been static or decreasing.  [The idea of "background" means that the "approval" is not necessarily tied to any specific performance or accomplishment.  It is more of a "gut feeling." The Republican problem is that a similar "gut feeling" of approval was instrumental in the 2008 landslide which placed Obama in office.]

GOP's "April Dream" Number Two:
High Unemployment and Economic Disaster

Since George W. never existed, this must be Obama's fault. (image source)

After raising a royal "stink" about the national debt during 2010 and 2011, the Republicans found themselves "married" to the Ryan House budget, widely known as the "kill Medicare" and "starve Grand Ma" plan, but also known as a debt ridden borrowing proposal which would increase the current $14 Tn debt by an additional $3 Tn in the next ten years.

Because debt reduction had been voluminously touted as a "jobs creation" strategy -- in the absence of any other action on the problem -- the new debt increases required to pay for the oligarch tax cuts turned out to be no more popular than a "fart in a spacesuit."  Meanwhile, the public spectacle of complaining about "no jobs" while blocking any job creation bills and busily eliminating state employee jobs in 100,000 job packages while simultaneously proposing more debt for high end tax cuts finally began to sink in among the voters.

Ooops. We paid the tea bag House to sabotage every effort. (image source)

During the first nine months of 2011 the Republican elite were gratified, their scheme was enjoying continuing high unemployment without much of a break accompanied with a delightfully lack luster GDP growth rate.  In the tea bag controlled House, any job creating spending bill was dead on arrival and economic stimulus was a knee slapping horse joke.  These conditions were not missed as the latest priorities of the heavily controlled, on going media blitz were set, month after month.

The President's approval rating dipped to a, for them, very promising low.

However, during the last quarter of 2011, the President, still smarting from the out right rejection of his jobs bill, the continuing onslaught against any reform to the nation's self-destructive health care and total Republican obstruction of even a traditionally comfortably bi partisan transportation construction proposal began a modest course of executive action to do what he could on his own.

The economic disaster ploy exploded to include threats to shut down the government, block the credit extension for the national debt, destroy the postal service and rescind Wall Street regulations passed a year before.   House Republicans dutifully did what they could to increase unemployment with a stranglehold on federal to state support.  Teachers, policemen and firefighters were being pink slipped at an alarming rate.  The totals of House tea bag induced unemployment increases added roughly one million more Americans to the rolls.

Simultaneously, food stamps, Pell Grants and even unemployment benefits were taken hostage to extort an extension of the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy.  Through all of this the vast population of Americans still trusting commercial networks -- already the property of the Republican elites -- for news about the nation's condition were fed a relentless diet of "class three" lies.  ["Class Three Lies" are direct prevarications based on ideology, misrepresented economic facts and an amazingly arrogant refusal to report entire stories.  "Class One" lies are the Muslim business, the birth certificate and racial suspicion.  "Class Two Lies" are founded on quips of factual data heavily "reinterpreted" by commercial media.]

Students in public schools were prohibited from hearing the President's encouragement to stay in school or State of the Union address.  Presidential speeches were 30 second network clips followed by 5 minutes of conservative counter arguments.

The "April Dream" was to create an image of a President cowering behind the walls of the Oval Office, unable to do anything to assist an economic recovery.  The miracle is that without ever having been reported by the oligarchic media, the President's record was actually pretty well known among American voters -- and, they approved.

GOP's "April Dream" Number Three:
The Missing Mayhem

Every resource available was dedicated to the success of the Tea Party "Movement."  There were literally glaciers of microphones, buses, podiums and happy policemen, but even more remarkable, the fledging "grass roots" effort was receiving month after month of relentless "unsolicited" publicity worth millions.  Not only were the planned events broadcast daily months in advance, the media coverage was the predictable hour by hour, breathless story, too.

The "April Dream" was that by now the tea bags would be on an unstoppable "March to the Sea," ruthlessly crushing every liberal alternative, and even when it wasn't "crushing," the story could be painlessly augmented into a matter of grave national relevance by every network from FOX News to PBS.

However, April found the massive commercial campaign stuttering, near oblivion from disinterest.  The 2010 victories for the tea bags have turn sour in a very, very big way.  The shady millionaires the 2010 election inserted in the House have proved to be little more than arrogant, adolescent political hacks obsessed with banning Sharia Law from Oklahoma and naming post offices after their friend.

On the other hand, the Republican reactionaries instantly fell in love with the fear generating possibilities of the Occupy movement.  Even if the tea bags had fallen asleep in their wheel chairs, and fear mongering about Occupy suddenly received much of the unused publicity which had been freed up following the dismal glacier of disinterest which had settled on the tea bags.

Carefully crafted police violence executed by previously invisible, "freedom loving" tea bag mayors caught the public interest for a week or so, but then opinion polls and social media rapidly swung around to an energetically sympathetic position with Occupy instead of running in terror.

Gigantic demonstrations such as the ones about immigration and Wisconsin union busting were cleverly ignored by the oligarchic media, but again, social media, well populated by participants with cell phone cameras, proved to be beyond the control of the cash monsters, and the word was spread.  Shamed, the networks finally capitulated with a few quick video clips and a few biased "two sides of the issue" crafted to instill fear in the masses followed up with "that's all the time we have" faux coverage, but by then the stories had "grown legs" on the internet.

In the "April Dream" every American over fifty was supposed to be terrified by out of control minority rapists roaming the streets, and every American under fifty was supposed to be skulking in his kitchen with his rifle cleaning kit, getting ready for the "big one."  The country was supposed to be in a threatening chaos, and the listenership and credibility of the "red meat," hired radio pundits was supposed to be sky rocketing.

Instead, although there was some interest, most Americans, already numbed by the House tea bag ranting and rumbling, considered the show about as interesting as the third day of a mild toothache.  The voter "excitement capacity" had become exhausted with hyperbole, and even the "net illiterate" were growing suspicious of a poorly played drama.  The "net literate" were becoming outraged with a growing taste for action.

GOP's "April Dream" Number Four:
American Women

Any shift among the vast vote block of women voters was never a part of the "April Dream."  The owners of the Republican Party had, quite reasonably, expected Republican women to vote in a quite traditional manner.  This constituency had never presented a loyalty problem before, and 12 months prior, there was no expectation that it would behave any differently in the 2012 election.

In other words, GOP women voters would do what they always did, that is, vote for GOP candidates along side their husbands.

Further, this "elephant in the living room" had not emerged in the field in a traditional way.  Normally, any "perturbation of the Force" was announced by a few thoughtful but inflammatory speeches, a few nicely genteel demonstrations and a few mild mannered lectures, but in this case, the approach of what Republicans now recognize as "the beast" was silent -- but massive.

At first, these concerns were mere "party favors" engaged by the fact that Republican front runners were respectively Mormon and Catholic.  But, as the bloody primary campaigns took their predictable course, a passing attention was drawn to "supra political" plans which specifically targeted women -- their health care, a stunning vacuum of education support in the Party platform and finally, new rampages about abortion, "personhood" at conception and contraception.

Once attention had been drawn to the regressive efforts in the Presidential campaigns, the unanticipated interest immediately spread to hundreds of anti-abortion bills which had been passed in Republican controlled states, culminating with the arrival of the "largest elephant ever in any living room anywhere" disguised as a pastel colored trans-vaginal ultra sound probe.

Within a couple of weeks, poll numbers for women in general and including women voters supporting Republican candidates careened downward, plunging precipitously "off the cliff" to a 15 or 20 percent shift to "anyone else" -- particularly to "anyone else" with enough sense not to inflame women voters this way.

Remarkably, this was never intended to be in the contest.  These questions were never intended as a "risky gambit" which, if executed successfully, would have increased the number of Republican ballots in the 2012 general election.  These questions were, instead, a stunning example of the "silent marauder," arriving unannounced in a furious mayhem of brutal chaos and destruction.  Worse, unlike the Vikings and VisiGoths, this marauder didn't retreat in the light of the following dawn.

The faces above the pin striped suits in the elite Republican strategy bunkers turned white.  Distraught oligarchic foreheads were placed in oligarchic palms, and oligarchic tears rolled down quivering oligarchic wrists to $3,000 wrist bands and then under the $20,000 oligarchic wrist watches.

This was never supposed to be part of the "April Dream."

A Few Last Words

MeanMesa visitors already know that many more -- large and small -- peccadilloes could be added to the "nightmare side" of the Republican "April Dream."

A party with traditional bad habits of "over reaching," the Republicans in this dark moment will, of course, begin "over reaching" even beyond the "over reaching" they've already done in this campaign.  Further, because they firmly believe that elections can be won with the sole advantage of vast sums of Citizens United cash, they will proceed even though they can't even countenance their own record.

2012 will be decided by what voters know and what voters can figure out based on what they know.

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