I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised. After all, this is the party that is hoping that the end is near, that the Rapture will come to save them and destroy everyone else.
Yet, as we stand on the precipice of disaster, the Republican Party cannot bring itself to do anything to help stave off economic collapse. Rather, they are hoping for the worse. And not just for the economy -- now the terrorist fear-mongering is back, in full force. As David Kurtz of TPM says, Today's GOP: Hoping for the Worst:
It occurred to me while reading Politico's interview with Dick Cheney, that the GOP's plan to regain political viability in the short term rests on two disaster scenarios: the failure of the financial rescue efforts (stimulus, TARP, and other bailouts) to stave off complete economic collapse and a new mass casualty terrorist attack -- both of which they are positioning themselves to blame Obama for.
Without one of those two, they have to figure it's going to be a long time wandering in the political wilderness. Now think about the curdling effect, the blight on the soul that comes with rooting for such disasters to befall your country. The rot is now eating at the party's very core.
I guess it's easy when you've lost your soul, your humanity. Dick Cheney, the very individual to whom we entrusted our country for the last 8 years -- who left us with the dire results at hand, has the audacity to start pointing fingers the minute he leaves the door. Unlike most prior Presidents and VPs, who remain silent about their successors policies, Dick has no such compunction. Instead, Cheney warns of new attacks:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney warned that there is a “high probability” that terrorists will attempt a catastrophic nuclear or biological attack in coming years, and said he fears the Obama administration’s policies will make it more likely the attempt will succeed.
In an interview Tuesday with Politico, Cheney unyieldingly defended the Bush administration’s support for the Guantanamo Bay prison and coercive interrogation of terrorism suspects.
And then, of course, there's that little matter of the economy. While some people are trying to stave off another Great Depression, the GOP is doing its part -- to make it happen sooner rather than later. Even I, cynic that I am, cannot truly believe that the Republican Party could be so destructive. That the GOP could not envision any issue that would trump partisanship, even if was necessary to save our economy from collapse. Yet, Josh Marshall of TPM describes it perfectly, in Denial As Political Strategy:
Behind all the back and forth over the Stimulus Bill is a simple fact: the debate in Washington is rapidly moving away from any recognition that the US economy -- and the global economy, for that matter -- is in free-fall. The range of outcomes stretches from severe recession to something closer to a replay of the Great Depression, though that label is perhaps better seen as a placeholder for 'catastrophic economic collapse' since the underlying place of the US economy in the world economy is very different from what it was in 1929. This reality was palpable in the political debate until as recently as a few weeks ago. But Republicans are using a strategy of conscious denial to push it off the stage.
Take stock of the last few weeks and you can almost visualize the two conversations -- path toward economic calamity and debate over Stimulus Bill -- diverging.
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Of course, at some level, why would Republicans be trying to drive the country off a cliff? Well, not pretty to say, but they see it in their political interests. Yes, the DeMints and Coburns just don't believe in government at all or have genuinely held if crankish economic views. But a successful Stimulus Bill would be devastating politically for the Republican party. And they know it. If the GOP successfully bottles this up or kills it with a death of a thousand cuts, Democrats will have a good argument amongst themselves that Republicans were responsible for creating the carnage that followed. But the satisfaction will have to be amongst themselves since as a political matter it will be irrelevant. The public will be entirely within its rights to blame Democrats for any failure of government action that happened while Democrats held the White House and sizable majorities in both houses of Congress.
President Obama was forced to remind us that we are at the brink of economic "catastrophe" and need to do something quickly if we have any chance of avoiding the worst case scenerio. See also, Paul Krugman, About that deflation risk.
When Obama ran on a campaign of hope, I'm not sure he realized how true it was. Things are so bad, that's about all we have left. Hope that we can avoid total collapse. Hope that it doesn't come to this, It’s Not Going to Be OK:
The daily bleeding of thousands of jobs will soon turn our economic crisis into a political crisis. The street protests, strikes and riots that have rattled France, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Iceland will descend on us. It is only a matter of time. And not much time. When things start to go sour, when Barack Obama is exposed as a mortal waving a sword at a tidal wave, the United States could plunge into a long period of precarious social instability.
At no period in American history has our democracy been in such peril or has the possibility of totalitarianism been as real. Our way of life is over. Our profligate consumption is finished. Our children will never have the standard of living we had. And poverty and despair will sweep across the landscape like a plague. This is the bleak future. There is nothing President Obama can do to stop it. It has been decades in the making. It cannot be undone with a trillion or two trillion dollars in bailout money. Our empire is dying. Our economy has collapsed.