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Thursday, November 04, 2010


I think I've probably brought this up before, but humans are obsessive and relentless. Other than our intelligence, that's our evolutionary advantage. As predators go, we're slow and weak. How did we survive before we developed weapons? By being the most unrelenting chase predator in the world. We're built to run. Not fast, but for a long time. It's why we sweat.

You spot a gazelle and you chase it. It bounds away easily, getting far enough ahead that it feels safe. And then we're there again, tracking it. It runs, it stops again, we catch up. It runs, it stops again, we catch up. Our weapon isn't stealth or strength or speed, it's endurance. We exhaust our prey. It's in our nature. And the prey's belief that it's far enough away to be safe is its undoing.

I bring this up because Republicans are the gazelle right now. They're way freakin' out there, far enough to forget they're involved in a chase. And we're behind them, relentless.

One thing that's happening right now is that everyone is learning the wrong lessons. Evan Bayh, for example, wrote a New York Times op-ed yesterday arguing that Democrats must embrace centrism (code for "move to the right") in order to remain relevant. This ignores the fact that the "centrist" Democrats took the biggest beating Tuesday.

Likewise, President Obama himself said yesterday, "We were in such a hurry to get things done that we didn't change how things got done," as if people are angry about obscure -- and largely unknown -- parliamentary rules. Paul Krugman dumped all over that one.

Nobody cares about this stuff -- they care about results. Nobody really cares about earmarks; they're just code for spending less (less on somebody else, of course, not me). Nobody cares about civility and bipartisanship, which in practice are code for Democrats giving in to Republican demands. Nobody cares about parliamentary maneuvers: we can argue about the role of health reform in the election, but I bet not one voter in 50 knows or cares that it was passed using reconciliation (as were the sacred Bush tax cuts we must, must retain).

Amen. To be fair, I think Obama probably knows this, but he has to play to the punditry. And that should be the lesson -- that pundits are powerful morons and they must be dealt with. But not by appeasement.

Think about it. Voters are angry with a situation that simply does not exist. There are no "death panels," President Obama is not a communist, and government spending is not why the economy is in trouble. A recent Bloomberg poll found that most people don't know "The Obama administration cut taxes for middle-class Americans, expects to make a profit on the hundreds of billions of dollars spent to rescue Wall Street banks and has overseen an economy that has grown for the past five quarters." So let me say it again; voters are angry about a situation that simply does not exist.

This is also why Republicans offer no solutions. They're the ones who set these lies in motion, so they know there's no solving these non-existent problems. In fact, soon-to-be House speaker John Boehner made it clear that they aren't going to do anything substantial. "While our new majority will serve as your voice in the people's House, we must remember it's the president who sets the agenda for our government," he said -- reactionary still. Oddly, I don't think repealing healthcare reform is an agenda item this president would set. Boehner's basically admitting that they aren't going to take leadership, because then they'd have to solve all the problems they've invented out of thin air. That'd be tough.

If we don't consider the impact of powerful liars like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, etc., we're dead in the water. If Sarah Palin says one lie for five minutes, we need to spend a week hammering it into pieces. These people have no ideas, these people have no solutions, all they have is fear and hate and lies. And it all spreads like a wildfire unless you crush it out immediately.

We need to be relentless in chasing down those lies. We're good at that. It's in our nature.


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