Posted by: mutantpoodle | January 26, 2009

And you were expecting what, exactly?

giant_dog_w_gunThere’s a story that Grantland Rice, the most famous sportswriter of the early 20th Century, was approached by a young writer after a baseball game they were both covering. This writer, clearly looking to put a poetic touch on his account of the game just finished, turned from the sun setting on the horizon to Rice.

“Is that West?” he asked. Rice’s response: “Son, if it ain’t, you’ve got a helluva a story.”

I remembered that anecdote – from decades ago in my reading life – as I was reading account after account of how Congressional Republicans – including Mr. Bipartisan, John McCain – may well oppose the proposed Democratic stimulus package.

I now refer you to the title of this post.

Let’s get a few things out of the way.

First, the Republican view of bipartisanship for many many years has been, essentially, we propose something and you agree. They’re getting better than that now from Democrats, but not a lot better, and, by the way, they don’t deserve to do a lot better given (a) their numbers and (b) their role in bring us us all to this economic precipice, both with their irrational worship of free markets and their incredibly spendthrift ways while they were in control of all branches of government.

Second, Republicans should not be able to say things like “fiscal responsibility” or “borrow and spend” in public without being greeted by gales of laughter. In Lost in America, after Julie Hagerty had gambled away their nest egg, Albert Brooks (her husband) forbade her ever speak the phrase “nest egg” again – nor the words “nest” or “egg” individually. What Republicans did was worse than a gamble – it was a calculated move to prevent the kind of spending that is currently contemplated in the stimulus bill. It is only the disastrous consequences of ignoring the impending – and predicted – collapse of the world financial markets that put us in a place where the kind of deficits contemplated in order to jolt the economy are taking a backseat to the acknowledged need to do something to, at the very least, reverse the slide we’re in.

Third, saying outright that Republicans should oppose the stimulus because it will help Democrats win elections is both an endorsement of the stimulus and an indictment of one’s interest in fixing this country’s problems. Ken Blackwell, meet Rush Limbaugh.

Finally, if you’re going to cite a CBO report that shows that the stimulus money won’t be spent fast enough, you might want to make sure it actually exists.

I am convinced that whatever stimulus passes, it will be messy. There’s no way to spend that much money cleanly. Better a messy recovery than a disciplined depression.

I am also convinced that trying to weaken this stimulus to attract GOP votes is a fool’s errand. When someone in the Republican party comes up with an idea that isn’t (a) cutting the capital gains tax, (b) eliminating the estate tax, or (c) making George Bush’s tax cuts permanent, maybe you should spend a few minutes hearing that individual out.

The other stuff is crap, and it should be treated as such. In the real world that Republicans allegedly revere, if you’re repeatedly wrong, you may well get fired (as lots of them did); at the very least, people will stop listening to you.

I hope that happens sooner rather than later.

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