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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

GOP: Slightly More Popular than Pakistan

If you follow me on Twitter (and you should, I'm fascinating), you'd know that I woke up this morning with no idea what to write about. Sometimes, you just cruise your RSS feeds and see what grabs you.

What grabbed my attention was a New York Times/CBS News poll that shows that GOP grandstanding and publicity stunts aren't really doing any good. Turns out that two-thirds of Americans approve of President Obama's overall job performance, while giving the Republican party low numbers.

How low? Bargain basement low. According to NYT, "[J]ust 31 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of the Republican Party, the lowest in the 25 years the question has been asked in New York Times/CBS News polls." This means that, according to Pew, if the GOP were a country, it'd tie Cuba in popularity with Americans, between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Polling house statisticians have a technical term for approval ratings this low -- "screwed."

And why should the ratings be higher? It's not like the Republican party has had especially constructive ideas lately. Their April Fools Day budget alternative was put together in order to counter accusations of being the "party of no." It wasn't a serious proposal, because they knew it would go nowhere. It was just a public relations stunt. No one took it seriously -- including, as the poll shows, voters.

And, at a time when it would be really helpful for them to get their act together, they're fighting amongst themselves.

The Plumline:

You know there’s serious disarray afoot among a party’s Congressional leaders when the principals and their staffs start leaking damaging info about each other, and that now seems to be happening among House GOP leaders.

Check out this nugget from Ben Pershing’s piece on increasing tensions among House Republicans. It appears that someone is trying to pin the blame for the House GOP’s politically-disastrous, numbers-free budget on John Boehner:

Privately, [House Republican whip Eric] Cantor and the lawmaker tasked with writing the GOP budget, Rep. Paul D. Ryan, had urged the party to hold off going public until it could produce a finished product. Both men wanted a more detailed proposal with dollar figures that would make it a more defensible document. Boehner and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence disagreed, hoping to counter as quickly as possible Democrats’ charge that Republicans are “the Party of No.” The result was a botched rollout and bad press.

And someone wants to shift the blame for the botched budget rollout away from Eric Cantor.

Hence the leak. Nothing the GOP has been trying has been working and they're stuck in sort of the opposite of a circle jerk -- they aren't trying to please each other, they're trying to stab each other in the back. Frankly, it's hard to blame Cantor. Boehner's a boob. Losing him would improve things for House Republicans immeasurably.

If Republicans are busy trying to shift blame to each other, is it any wonder that their approval ratings are so low?

As a result of Republican disarray, traditional GOP ideas have become extremely unpopular. CBS News notes that the poll shows that "almost three-quarters of Americans think it is a good idea to raise taxes on people making more than $250,000 per year..." While the GOP is trying to launch tired old defenses of their wealthy interests, the national mood is more along the lines of "soak the rich." The idea that the wealthy are the "wealth creators" isn't flying anymore -- mostly because it was never true anyway. They don't create wealth or jobs -- consumer demand does that -- all they really are are "wealth collectors." Not surprisingly, most people no longer see any economic value in pooling wealth in a few pockets.

I sometimes wonder if Republicans have stopped trying to regain voters. They sure don't seem to be. There is no new Republican message, it's all the same stuff they've always stood for. From economics to science to foreign policy to religious lunacy, they haven't changed a damned thing. None of this stuff flies anymore and it seems as if all they're doing is trying to hold their ground.

I suppose the idea there would be to stem the bleeding first and then recover. But if the current state of the party tells us anything, it's that they have no idea how to recover. During the Bush years, the party moved so far to the right that there's nowhere else to go in that direction. At least, nowhere other than complete Tim McVeigh, white supremacist, survivalist crazy land. If they move left, they risk losing those few who still support them, as they'll stop being sufficiently crazy.

In the end, it's their own damned fault. You can only stretch those centrist bonds so far before they snap. In trying to drag the country as far to the right as they possibly could, all they managed to do was move themselves away from the center and outside the mainstream.

If you don't believe me, ask the mainstream. They'll tell you.


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