Creative Destruction

November 8, 2006

Why We Just Got Our Ass Kicked

Filed under: Current Events,Election 2006,Politics and Elections — Robert @ 3:26 am

This is a post aimed at my fellow Republicans and/or conservatives and/or conservatarians. (God forgive me for using that word.) You patchouli-reeking socialists are welcome to read and comment, but the intended audience is my brethren of the GOP voting universe – and mostly those of the elected persuasion (and not a few of the recently unelected persuasion).

For my friends and readers of delicate disposition, please be advised that I shall attempt to restrain the worst things that I feel like saying, but I can make no guarantees as to the family friendliness of the language.

We just got our ass kicked and everybody damn well knows the reason why.

The political machine performed brilliantly. As in previous elections, it delivered 98% of what was needed to be delivered in order to win – leaving it to the operational side of the house to come up with the last 2%. That 2% is what the Congressmen and women and the executive branch and (to a much milder extent) the judicial system has to win on merit – on being able to credibly say “look at the solid achievements and real progress on important issues we have made”.

Some of them have tried, and a few have tried like heroes. I’m not going to name names, it’s pointless. The ones who are trying to get things done know who they are, and so does everyone else.

The Iraq war is a disaster. Not irretrievably so militarily or strategically, where we are surviving a war of attrition in what is essentially a test of political will, but politically – where the rationales and strategies and realistic prospects for the war have not been described to the American people. This is a failure squarely to be laid at the door of the White House and its communication machine. This country took on a military machine nearly as far away and a lot deadlier than the massed forces of the entire Arab world, and had it explained over those newfangled “radios”. Do you really think their Internet-enabled children and grandchildren can’t handle the real story of the war on radicalized Islam? Of course they can – but 90% of them are not going to take enough courses in medieval mideastern history to put the picture together on their own. It has to be explained, and people given the information they need to be informed.

The ethical emanation coming from the Congress is putrid. It’s on a bipartisan basis, but scrappy underdogs get forgiven for their colorful escapades. People who are allegedly governing don’t.

This Congress’ performance on other issues has been at best uninspired. No decisive action to take control of the nation’s borders. No resolution reached of the knotty questions surrounding immigration policy. No progress on fixing Social Security. A trainwreck prescription drugs bill hated by everyone. Bloated pork bills designed to curry favor with every special interest group in America – how well did that one work out for you, fellows? Currying favor with us religious elements on trivial crap, and blowing us off or dropping the ball on big picture questions. The list goes on.

Damn it all, this has to stop.

We are not electing you people to go to Washington and get rich in sweetheart deals. We are not electing you people because we saw your picture and said “this guy should get invited to every cocktail party in the Beltway”. We send you to our nation’s capital – a place where American soldiers have seen battle and shed blood – in order that you can govern this nation. But most of you don’t even govern yourselves.

Here is a refresher course. Here are the things that you are expected to do.

1. Secure our borders and coastal areas against casual violation, and formulate an immigration policy that is decent, humane, and survivable.

2. Fix Social Security so that it continues to work sustainably, without breaking it (hint: reasonably regulated markets). Reform the financial governance and fiscal prudence of our Government’s accounting practices.

3. Victory in Iraq. (Like pornography, we’ll know it when we see it.)
4. Fix the health care system of this country so that people who cannot get the care they truly need are helped, without bankrupting the rest of us. Hint: reasonably regulated markets.

5. Progress in the war on terror.

Here’s a suggestion for Congressional figures, and those who would so aspire: When you plan to do something, ask “does this help with any of one through five on Bob’s list of demands?” If the answer is “no”, then don’t do it. If you’re thinking “you know, I really need to start having relationships with teenagers…I wonder who’s on Yahoo Chat tonight”, then ask yourself “have we won in Iraq, fixed Social Security, saved the health care system, made progress in the war on terror, AND secured the borders?” If the answer is “no”, then I suggest that you put down the IM client and get your ass back to work.

You guys (and too few gals) have let down the team. You have two years to turn it around, get yourselves in some kind of order, and get serious about the business of this country.

Either get your shit together, or start looking for a new line of work in 2008.

5 Comments »

  1. “LEWIS: People want leadership, Mr. President! They’re so thirsty for it, they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.

    PRESIDENT: ….People don’t drink the sand ‘cause they’re thirsty, Lewis. They drink it ‘cause they don’t know the difference.”

    The American President (1995).

    Yes, Republicans lost because they became ineffectual. But not specifically with respect to Iraq. Or the economy. Or prescription drugs. They became ineffectual at convincing people that sand is water. That is, a lot of people no longer get the psychic benefit they used to get by identifying with Republican, and so they’ve stopped doing so.

    Who cares about competence? Lack of health care is only a problem to people who lacks the care, or their immediate families; but the majority of Americans are healthy or have insurance. The war in Iraq is only a problem for soldiers and their immediate families; the majority of Americans have no skin in the game. Katrina was only a problem for the people hit by it and their immediate families; a majority of Americans live elsewhere. The debt is only a problem for policy wonks; even their families don’t care. And this group of people doesn’t constitute a majority. They – we – are The Expendables.

    It’s a simple matter of cost/benefit analysis: Addressing their concerns would soak up a disproportionate amount of resources without returning comparable electoral benefits (votes or dollars) to any politician that would champion their cause. So the only reason to address their concerns is idealism. Idealism is expensive, and competitive markets squeeze the fat out of any system. As politics has grown more competitive (Karl Rove was merely the latest genius at finding new ways to squeeze out the fat), the parties will have fewer and fewer resources left for acting on idealism. Any party that doesn’t invest all its resources in endeavors that offer the maximum electoral return will be defeated by the party that does. Policy is ever more subordinated to politics until, with Karl Rove, policy considerations were basically eliminated.

    Thus the Republicans have operated the government incompetently for years; what has it cost them? Has the cumulative effect eventually swayed people into rejecting ideology and embracing technocratic competence? Or rather did people start finding it hard to believe that voting for the scandal-ridden Republicans was a meaningful way to reject the sexual immorality of the Bill Clinton? Both probably played a role, but I suspect the latter factor had a greater impact than the former.

    I simply doubt that a majority of voters can distinguish between competent and incompetent government. At best, the public distinguishes between governmental news that makes them feel bad and governmental news that makes them feel good (or provokes no feelings at all). Admittedly there’s a weak correlation between these two types of distinctions; Rove has been a master of breaking the link. But in the absence of unspinnable sex scandals, I suspect that the majority of the public would have retained their righteous view that all the whining about incompetence was just political nay-saying by those out of power.

    Once people’s hearts were opened to seeing the down side of their champions, they could then identify incompetence as yet another reason to turn on them. But without the scandals, I suspect the incompetence could have continued almost indefinitely. The great majority just can’t tell the difference.

    I don’t mean to be partisan about his. I suspect these dynamics will drive the Democrats to engage in similar behavior as much as they can. But – putting it mildly – the Democrats have a less uniform world view than the Republicans, which means they have a harder time articulating the world views that should be demonized. In other words, the Democrats may refrain from engaging in quite the same level of venality not because they won’t be venal, but because they can’t figure out how to do so successfully.

    Comment by nobody.really — November 8, 2006 @ 6:33 pm | Reply

  2. The hint of ‘reasonably regulated markets’ is a recurring theme, so perhaps once we get the economy (and trade with China) back on a balanced track, we’ll be able to afford the other stuff. Like border policing and a more constructive foreign policy – as opposed to a ‘destructive’ one. Hint: reasonably regulated secretaries of defense.

    Comment by Geoff Dodd — February 28, 2007 @ 2:40 am | Reply

  3. The republicans lost for one simple reason and that,s from being hipocrites, Do as i say not as i do and it was proved, And the gwb war in the middle east did not help at all as it gave the dems more fuel for the fire storm, Now lets face the facts,those people in the middle east have been fighting for over 2000 years and nothing is going to stop it not even GWB the only way it will stop is for the jews to leave thier country and they are not going to do that, So face the facts we are not going to win that proclamed war in the middle east just like what happend in viet nam when another texan was in power, yes old LBJ i guess the saying is right, only steers and queers come from texas, which one is GWB? Now is it not strange that the republicans who sucked up to GWB lost,Hmmm i wonder why?

    Comment by sorry — April 12, 2007 @ 6:29 am | Reply

  4. “Victory in Iraq” in your dream’s. Not a chance buddy. 100% promise! We will kill every fucking US soldiers in Iraq. Burn mother fuckers (US. soldiers) burn….

    Comment by Mr. 007 — January 27, 2008 @ 4:04 pm | Reply

  5. “We”?

    I doubt you’ve developed the manhood to kill a cockroach, let alone to face your death against a US soldier.

    Comment by Robert — January 28, 2008 @ 2:04 am | Reply


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