Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Republicans, warped time, and the "Year Zero" gambit

Quick quiz: How long has Obama been president?

If you're too lazy to calculate it in your head, at least think about whether it's closer to two years or three. Go on, I'll wait. I've got Season 2 of Battlestar Galactica on Netflix instant-view.

Answer: As of two Sundays ago when I started writing this, Barack Hussein Obama had been our president for two years, four months, three weeks, and two days. Slightly over 2-1/3 years. Not even past the 2-1/2 mark you would need to hit in order to round up all the way to three years. Well over half a year shy of three years.

But if you're a Republican operative trying to pull the wool over the public's eyes, you might be used to saying that Barack Hussein Obama has been at the helm for three years. As evidence, look at a speech given by former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty:
Speaking yesterday at the University of Chicago, where Obama once taught law, Pawlenty said Obama has “spent three years dividing our nation and fanning the flames of class envy and resentment all across the country to deflect attention from his own failures and the economic hardship they have visited on America.”
Well, at first I thought that one was not as clear: after all, he could have been counting the months on the campaign trail, but at that time it was the prior administration trying to "deflect attention from his own failures and the economic hardship they have visited on America."

This is becoming a clear pattern from Republicans. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the supposed Republican frontrunner, did the same thing during the recent Republican debate:
When he took office his number one job was to get the economy to turn around...so now, three years later, we have high unemployment...we still have, three years later, home foreclosures at record levels...and what does he have to say about this? He says "I'm just getting started."
On NBC's Meet the Press (15:30), the Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus posed to voters the question "whether or not people believe that they're better off today than they were three or four years ago."

Excuse me? "Three or four years ago"?

Four years ago we were about midway into the second term of one George W. Bush. Three years ago we had not yet witnessed the meltdown of our economy that occurred on Mr Bush's watch.

But it's easy to see what Republicans are trying to do with Americans who are lazily calculating backward from 2011 and getting to 2008, even though Obama did not become president until the end of January 2009.

Leapfrogging backward to a time when things had not yet fallen apart, in order to pin the entire mess on Obama, is absurd. But it might just gain some votes from the amnesia-stricken.

Of course, that's not the only reason for warping time: by making people think Obama has been in office longer than he has, it makes it seem more more like he is a failure for not having solved the economic mess already. That is, at two years or so, he may legitimately be getting the ball rolling on fixing an economic disaster that was many more years in the making, but at three or four years, we should be seeing far better numbers, right?

This kind of dishonesty makes me think I cannot support whatever candidate uses this tactic.

See, the whole purpose of the Year Zero tactic is that Republicans don't want you to think about how we got from surplus spending at the end of the Clinton administration to the astronomical deficit spending we're at now. They want you to think this all began with Obama and that the deficit is all the responsibility of the Democrats instead of breaking down to $10 trillion from Republican administrations and a mere $4 trillion from Democrats (mostly Obama, owing to the problems and the budget he inherited from Bush43).

And if you do recall that the economy was at the abyss before Obama became president, you should be thinking that any of the Republicans would have fixed it all by now. The Republicans are banking on the voters forgetting just how dangerously close we were to Great Depression 2.0 so that they will believe the lingering problems are because of Obama's policies and not his predecessors'.

It's a powerful strategy, banking on voter amnesia, and I think that the only way Obama can win is with stronger numbers (and indications are they will get better, despite this past month's blip of only 55K jobs created) and driving home just how bad things were when he became president in 2009.

This may involve bringing up things from his opponents' past. This shouldn't be too hard; in the June 13 broadcast of Meet the Press (7:25), host David Gregory trotted out something Mr Santorum had said way back in December 2002:
I think we're going to be in for deficits for the next few years to come. We're in a recession — just coming out of a recession — and secondly we're going to be fighting a war, a major war on terrorism, and potentially a war in Iraq. The last thing we need to do when we're concerned about national security of this country is be concerned about deficits.
Whoa. Quite a gotcha moment there. But wait, it's all different this time. When the host asks why, in the same circumstances (recession, two wars, etc.), deficits didn't matter then but they do now, Mr Santorum meekly responds, "Well, I think scale matters... Prior to 2001, we were in a surplus. We were talking about deficits of a hundred to two hundred billion dollars, not $1.5 trillion, not something that is grinding our economy down."

He goes on to explain that this was "immediately" right after we were attacked (time warp problem again, as this was over a year after the attacks that he was saying that). But in the spirit of the Year Zero gambit, what he neglects to explain was how we ended up with some $6 trillion in debt from that administration.

Just where the hell were all these budget hawks? Why did they not suddenly appear until 2009? With a successful Year Zero gambit, you won't have to think about that.

And this is part of that other great meme — that Obama is at heart the cause of the astronomical national debt — that also is getting play among Republicans. From the first Santorum link, at about 4:10 in this link, he says:
Sure, he came in with a problem, and in that whole he kept digging. And digging And digging.

Now for every dollar we spend, thanks to this president, forty cents is borrowed. Forty cents is gonna be put on every man, woman, and child, to pay the interest on for the rest of their lives. ...

Who are you, Mr. President? Who are you, Mr. President, to say that you and your administration should take forty cents out of every dollar and borrow it from future generations to prop you up?
Wow. Just wow. Listening to that you'd get the impression that it was Obama himself who ran up the $14 trillion and that $10 trillion of it wasn't actually from Republican administrations.

No wonder Santorum and his supporters say "President Obama... wrecked our economy."

Representative Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite also running for president, is riding the three-year meme:
In February 2009, President Obama was very confident that his economic policies would turn the country around within a year. He said -- and I quote -- "A year from now, I think people are going to see that we're starting to make some progress. If I don't have this done in three years, then there's going to be a one-term proposition."

Well, Mr. President, your policies haven't worked. Spending our way out of the recession hasn't worked. And, so, Mr. President, we take you at your word.
Well, at least she got the timeline sorta right. Except the three-year mark would be sometime early next year. At least this comment is more defensible than the other comments, as one cannot expect everything to be resolved by January 20, 2012. But if things are clearly going in an upward direction, people who are confident things are getting better and who remember how bad things actually had gotten may just vote again for Barack Hussein Obama.

1 comment:

  1. aaaaaand I've puked in my mouth. Sweet baby Jesus, don't let these people run the country...


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