Monday, March 22, 2010

Rhetorical Excess

Maybe the guy believes what he's saying. God knows Congress is filled with an impressive amount of stupidity and delusion. Still, at some point you have to wonder: when does it become self-defeating to say such outrageous things? It's one thing to lie and deceive -- pretty much the stock in trade of the right wing of late -- and to assume the heretofore limitless gullibilty of voters. It's another to say things that will certainly be found by voters, eventually, to be false. You'd think, therefore, that rhetoric like this, when it was clear the bill would pass, and that even people inclined to believe such trash will eventually find out how far off the mark it is, would not be the order of the day during the final "debate."

From now until the November elections, Republicans will try to convince the public that their obstructionism was a worthy effort; that trying to fix health care was a misadventure by the Democrats. Surely there are better arguments than this guy is floating. (Floating in this sense, I'd say.) Meanwhile, it'll be up to Democrats to convince them otherwise.

You'd think it wouldn't be hard. Nearly everyone agrees (or, in the case of Republicans, gives lip service to the idea) that health care needs fixing. That it's clear the Democrats have made a serious effort and that the Republicans did nothing but try to stop it, ought to be convincing to a majority of voters. On the other hand, the Republicans are nothing (and by "nothing," I mean "nothing else") if not brilliant at message control. As they've made clear since Barack Obama laid hand on Bible (Bible? I heard it was the Koran!), the Rs and their echo machine on Fox "news" and all of the RWS™ are perfectly willing to shed all connection to fact, to prevaricate in quantity, to swing voters their way. Perhaps they're hoping it'll be after November that the lies will become self-evident; and that since they're only about regaining power for its own sake, the end justifies the means. When people find out, they figure, the Rs will have executed their coup and the truth is moot.

But at least one very staunch conservative, defender of all things George Bush, is worried, and quite candid:

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994...

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

Could a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.

Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes on productive enterprise – without weighing so heavily on small business – without expanding Medicaid? Too late now. They are all the law...

...We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.

There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible. How do you negotiate with somebody who wants to murder your grandmother? Or – more exactly – with somebody whom your voters have been persuaded to believe wants to murder their grandmother?

(Kinda puts the lie to the RWS™ claim that the failure of bipartisanship was Obama's fault, doesn't it? On the other hand, that claim was patently false from the beginning, despite its unrelenting ubiquity on the Foxified airwaves.)

So it'll be interesting: one side has all the facts but is incompetent in using them, while the other has none, but has no scruples, as we see in that video clip, in what they'll say to overcome that little handicap. It'll boil down to this: is that portion of the public currently in the thrall of the RWS™ and Fox "news" ever going to wake up and see what's in front of their faces, to throw off the hackles of disinformation and remember what it's like to think for themselves? Or, despite all the coming evidence, will teabaggers continue to rage against themselves, and will the media continue to ignore their role in a functioning democracy?

I'm not taking any bets.

[Added] In the meantime, I hope we'll be seeing more of this as the year wears on:

1 comment:

  1. Republican "Logic":

    It circles the bowl slowly, but no matter how many times you flush, it never goes down!



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