Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The numbers (Update on Mondale and Dukakis)

Shutdown. Obamacare. This is a situation in which the polls matter. So here are the numbers:
By 72 percent to 22 percent, Americans oppose Congress “shutting down major activities of the federal government” as a way to stop the Affordable Care Act from going into effect, the national survey from Quinnipiac University found.

By 64 percent to 27 percent, voters don’t want Congress to block an increase in the nation’s $16.7 trillion federal borrowing limit as a way to thwart implementation of the health-care law, which Obama signed into law in 2010 with a goal of insuring millions of Americans, known as “Obamacare.”

A majority of the public, 58 percent, is opposed to cutting off funding for the insurance program that begins enrollment today. Thirty-four percent support defunding it.
Why are the Republicans slitting their own throats? They live in such an insular media world, I think they really believe that the people are on their side. They bought into their own black propaganda.

No matter how many times people like Mitch McConnell tell us that the shutdown is the fault of the administration, everyone knows that this is all about Republican refusal to tolerate Obamacare.

We also know that the 2012 election was fought, to a large degree, over the issue of Obamacare. Romney lost; Obama won. End of story.

If Obamacare turns out to be a terrible program, the people will vote for representatives who will scrap it in favor of the old system. That's the way democracy is supposed to work.

By the way: I generally like what Joe Nocera says here. But then we get to the end... 
A party controlled by its most extreme faction will ultimately be forced back to the center. The Democrats learned that when Walter Mondale was losing to Ronald Reagan, and Michael Dukakis to George H.W. Bush. Now it is the Republicans who don’t seem to understand that their extreme tactics are pleasing a small percentage of their countrymen but alienating everyone else.
Are you freakin' kidding me? Have the historical rewriters been so successful that this generation sees Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis as radicals? Are you telling me that those guys are supposed to be the lefty equivalent of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul?

In 1984 and 1988, the real lefties supported Jesse Jackson. They -- should I say we? -- considered Mondale and Dukakis to be squishy centrists. Even Gary Hart was considered a truer liberal.

And now they want to brainwash our kids into believing that Mondale was Marx and Dukakis was Engels. Yeesh. If we can't sort out what happened in the (near) past, we'll never figure out how to fix the present.

UPDATE: A reader directs our attention to this column by Charles Pierce which makes the same point about the Nocera piece. Pierce:
Mondale was a run-of-the-mill New Deal Democrat who'd been vice-president to Jimmy Carter, a technocratic centrist in the mold of, well, of Michael Dukakis, whom nobody ever confused with Henry Wallace. Neither man was even the "most extreme" -- which, in this case, apparently means, "furthest left" -- candidate in the primary fields that produced them. In Mondale's case, that would have been Jesse Jackson, who also was around to run against Dukakis, as were Dick Gephardt and Paul Simon, both of them demonstrably more liberal than Dukakis was. Mondale lost to Reagan because Reagan was a popular incumbent.
You know who else did surprisingly well in the early stages of the '84 primaries? George McGovern. That's right. A guy whom all the pundits considered damaged goods made an appeal during the first debate of the season: Vote your conscience by voting for me. I may not win, but the winner will know what you stand for. And everyone was surprised by how many people did, in fact, vote for him.


Anonymous said...

The only thing I can figure out is the social media might be skewing the right wing's political perception. DC does live in a bubble. The juvenile Tea Party contingent are from gerrymandered districts, so I'm sure their constituency is cheering them on. The more 'moderate' [ahem] Republican members are terrified of being challenged by the lunatics.

But they all despise Obamacare across the board.

As far as the political description of Mondale and Dukakis? This is how far right the conversation has shifted. Bernie Sanders refers to himself as a 'socialist.' To me he sounds pretty much like a Democrat, the sort that existed back in the day. Before we were all afraid to use the "L" word, as in Liberal, not Libertarian.

We live in very strange times!


Sharon said...

You and Charles Pierce wrote almost identical columns today.

Joseph Cannon said...

Sharon, no. I dashed mine off. Pierce went full out. Great stuff, his is.

Anonymous said...

Have the historical rewriters been so successful that this generation sees Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis as radicals?

It was that way even within those electoral cycles.

When Dukakis came around, the beltway wisdom was that he was the pick because the Dems wanted to veer away from that extreme leftism of a Mondale in favor of a more centrist approach. That was within 4 years of what Mondale actually campaigned on, which was noted in his time as a centrist moderate platform.

As a key GOP tradition now, EVERY Democratic presidential candidate is characterized as THE MOST LIBERAL LEFTIST member of the party (and that's never true).

Clinton was said to be a far leftist, although he was a pragmatic centrist to conservative southern Democrat.

It's their Overton window to some degree-- they sometimes may perceive them this way-- but also sheer cynicism to lie to the people for electoral advantage.

Young pups who weren't there or sentient enough at the time pick this up as conventional wisdom. They're quite mistaken.


Joseph Cannon said...

Oh, wait, Sharon. I scrolled down and now I see the Pierce piece you were talking about...

cracker said...

George McGovern was an honest man, and those are quite rare in 2013 politics. He actually believed what he said he believed, and I say that as someone who didn't vote for him. He was vilified as a cross between Trotsky and a naïve peacenik who would get skinned by the bad boys in the neighborhood. The reward for his honesty was to be humiliated by the corrupt and probably mentally unbalanced Nixon 49 states to one. We won't see another candidate like that again in this lifetime.

Regarding the rewriting of history, Ronald Reagan is presented as some sort of saintly conservative American and has been for some time, so the rewriting isn't just on the left. The massive Federal deficits, the dirty deals under the table with Contras in Central America, the drug and gunrunning, the secret agreements with the government of Iran to torpedo Carter's re-election chances, and other examples of the outright drift into fascism are either forgotten or glossed over to preserve the phony aura created for the blessed Saint Ronnie. (looking at you, Peggy Noonan.)

Sharon said...

Don't forget the October Surprise, Cracker, that kept the Iran hostages on ice in service to getting Reagan elected in the first place. St. Ronnie was a scum bag.

Sharon said...

I'm trying to damnedest to remember where it was that I commented on a post that said...accurately...that saying Reagan wouldn't be accepted in today's GOP misses the important point that Reagan is the sire of today's GOP. I confessed I'd said the same thing and had even said it about Nixon and I wondered when people would start looking at Joe McCarthy and saying something similar. Well, look no more. Check out this: http://www.vanityfair.com/online/eichenwald/2013/09/republicans-know-obamacare-will-work

The sentence that stands out for me so far is: "By comparison, Joe McCarthy’s McCarthyistic McCarthyism was an exercise in reason."