August 11, 2009Republicans seem to be enjoying their August delirium and perhaps they should. For them, it only gets worse from here as the economy improves and Democrats ride growth—and their enactment of health-care reform—into the midterm elections.
by Robert Shrum
History does repeat itself—its central plot is recognizable even if the details of the drama are different. In a classic New Yorker cartoon of 1936, a gaggle of the affluent, including women in fashionable fur, stop outside a tony Manhattan residence where a tuxedoed butler is serving drinks. They tell their friends inside: "Come along. We're going to the Trans-Lux to hiss Roosevelt."
The legendary cartoonist Peter Arno perfectly captured the ideological frustration of the right wing as it watched an activist government, led by a president on course for a second electoral triumph, usher in economic recovery and major reform, including Social Security, which gained the support of only one Republican on the crucial vote before final passage.* (Yes, the more things change, the more they stay the same: See this year's vote on the economic stimulus bill.)
In 2009, the hisses of the old plutocracy have escalated into the caterwauling of a manufactured mobocracy intent on shouting down members of Congress and fellow citizens who come to community centers to ask honest questions. The screamers have been summoned into battle by Limbaugh, Beck and assorted demagogues, whose own hate speech is abetted by prominent Republicans ranging from Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell to Newt Gingrich and the shameless Sarah Palin, with her despicable prevarication that the "evil" Obama health reform provides for a "death panel" with the power to deny care to her Down syndrome child.
Ironically, the lies and legions of the right reached fever pitch at the moment the news arrived that, once again, activist government is succeeding in the wake of free market failure on a scale not seen since the Great Depression. Despite predictions that unemployment would soar above ten percent, the rate instead fell for the first time in a year. There is now a near-consensus, except among doctrinaire true believers, that federal decisions from the bank bailouts to the stimulus package not only prevented economic catastrophe, but have begun to spark an economic revival.
New home sales and home prices have ticked up; so have average weekly earnings. The pain isn't over, especially for the millions who are out of work. We'll see additional losses because employment growth lags economic growth. But growth seems likely to elide into positive territory during the second half of the year, with the recovery gaining momentum as we enter the midterm election year of 2010.
continued:http://www.theweek.com/bullpen/column/9 ... _Phase_Two