Friday, October 01, 2010

St. Ronnie, pure of the sin of unpopularity

Public Policy Polling points out an interesting trend that I attribute to Tea Partiers and other conservative Dupes.
Our last national poll found that 19% of voters both disapproved of Barack Obama's job performance and disapproved of the Republicans in Congress. Those folks are planning to vote Republican for Congress by a 76-6 margin this fall. They may not be happy with either side but when it comes to deciding how to vote in November their feelings against Obama are a much more decisive factor than their feelings against Republicans in general.
Now what is that one-fifth of voters thinking? I think they're full of bull pucky, as this kid in elementary school used to say. The real crime, to these conservatives, isn't profligate spending -- it's unpopularity. The stain of losing Congress to Democrats.

The sentiment -- we dislike Obama and the Republicans, but we're still voting for Republicans (by 76-6!) -- follows the Tea Party line. I guess all that animus against RINOs, Republicans In Name Only, is still in the air: the claim that those Republicans were corrupted spendthrifts themselves.

But by and large, those RINOs are officeholders from the Bush Jr. era, at least. And as we all know, the Taxed Enough Already crew didn't freak out about government spending and deficits and bailouts when their guy was headlining. Their guys held the White House for eight years -- including the House and Senate for more than half of that time -- and taxes were cut, wars were started, France was flipped the bird, and Social Security privatization was attempted. Every day was Tea Party day! No one decried tax rates; nor did neo-Tom Paine shed a tear for the deficit.

It took a Democrat in the presidency to remind Tea Partiers of their financial concerns. To save face, this 19 percent of voters had to suddenly "discover" that Republicans in Congress were traitors all along.

But what really was the RINOs' crime, then? Most Tea Party talk of Bush-era blunders comes down to "spending" -- but Tea Partiers are terrible with hard numbers. Would big cuts in Medicare have saved them? Certainly not -- pre-Tea Partiers would've freaked out, and many of them are on Medicare this very moment. I don't see them cutting military spending or Social Security either, and together these account for the majority of the budget.

So "spending" is bull. There's no truth to it. Only emotional truth on the part of Tea Partiers -- who I'm pretty sure overlap quite well with this 19 percent of voters.

That leaves one thing: The RINOs' real crime is losing. They committed the sin of becoming unpopular and losing to Democrats in 2008. Sounds nutty, I know, but it's the only explanation I can come up with for Tea Party supporters' attitudes concerning Republicans in office.

It fits nicely with the myth of Reagan and a couple other things. Ask most movement conservatives what was so great about President Ronald Reagan, and he'll probably mention standing up to the air-traffic controllers' union, standing up to the Soviet Union -- with all that "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" -- and maybe something about taxes and the economy. I doubt the economy was all that great for your average latter-day Tea Partier. But everything felt different -- and Reagan was popular, very popular. It's emotionally satisfying to support a winner.

Also, my idea explains this here August 13 list compiled by Right Wing News of "The 25 Worst Figures in American History," as voted on by 43 conservative blogs -- before Right Wing News took it down! (It helps to do screen grabs and page-saves when you report on these geniuses.) The list could contain "gangsters, serial killers, mass murderers, incompetent & crooked politicians, spies, traitors, and ultra left-wing kooks in all of American history." Look who's actually in it.
23) Saul Alinsky (7)
23) Bill Clinton (7)
23) Hillary Clinton (7)
19) Michael Moore (7)
19) George Soros (8)
19) Alger Hiss (8)
19) Al Sharpton (8)
13) Al Gore (9)
13) Noam Chomsky (9)
13) Richard Nixon (9)
13) Jane Fonda (9)
13) Harry Reid (9)
13) Nancy Pelosi (9)
11) John Wilkes Booth (10)
11) Margaret Sanger (10)
9) Aldrich Ames (11)
9) Timothy McVeigh (11)
7) Ted Kennedy (14)
7) Lyndon Johnson (14)
5) Benedict Arnold (17)
5) Woodrow Wilson (17)
4) The Rosenbergs (19)
3) Franklin Delano Roosevelt (21)
2) Barack Obama (23)
1) Jimmy Carter (25)

Barack Obama is second only to Jimmy Carter in failing to be popular among right wingers. It ain't about policy, it's about emotions.