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Anti-Obama Wave Can Only Take the GOP So Far


Republicans are no doubt popping champagne corks all across the country in light of some impressive new poll numbers about public perception of the GOP. The WSJ reports:

Republicans are now rated higher than Democrats on handling the economy and foreign policy, and the GOP’s lead has strengthened on several other issues, including dealing with the federal deficit and ensuring a strong national defense. On topics such as health care, Democrats have seen their long-standing advantage whittled to lows not seen in years.

It’s clear that these new numbers reflect widespread discontent with President Obama’s second term. Syria and the implementation of Obamacare have become real time trainwrecks, and the “summer of scandals” certainly didn’t help. But the poll also points to a fact that should worry the GOP: the recent wave of discontent with the Obama administration isn’t translating into reliable, long-term support for the Republican party. Only 28 percent view the GOP favorably against 40 percent who have a positive opinion about the Democratic party.

The truth is that Republicans can only profit so much from Obama’s failures. Unless and until they start offering solid alternative policies backed up by a compelling narrativeabout America’s future, all the Obama disenchantment in the world won’t be enough to get them into office and keep them there. Saying no to Obama has won the GOP some points; now it’s time to try something new.

[Image of GOP elephant from Shutterstock]

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  • bpuharic

    There is a difference between failure and perception of failure. WRM has confused the 2.

    The right wing drove us into the deepest depression in 80 years, and started 2 decade long wars. No wonder Americans have a poor opinion of the GOP. ANd the same poll found that people think Dems are more interested in the middle class than the GOP is

    The right has been successful at parlaying delusions such as supply side economics and hiding facts such as the 3 decades long wage stagnation of the middle class.

    We’ll just have to wait. The GOP couldn’t beat Obama in the midst of the worst recession in 80 years.

    • Jeff Jones

      Tick tock tick tock. Where are the jobs? These constituencies you think the democrats have a permanent lock on won’t wait forever and listen to the 1920s phonograph with half a disc spinning, playing “It’s the fault of the president back in the era of flip phones.”

      I am 100% sure you will, but smart people won’t. Oh, I forgot. Liberals think [laughably] that everyone who isn’t liberal is provincial and stupid.

      • bpuharic

        As the right wing. We gave them EVERYTHING they asked for:

        -busted labor unions
        -No banking regulations
        -low capital gains taxes

        So where are the jobs? They destroyed the economy, created the greatest degree of inequality in the western world…and destroyed 8 million jobs.

        Yes, you’re provincial and stupid. I just gave evidence to that effect

        When you can rebut the information I cited above, do so. Otherwise, I expect nothing more than insults.

        • Jeff Jones

          -busted labor unions

          Again, labor unions still exist. This “busting” myth is a joke. Giving people a choice in whether or not they join a union is not “busting.” Most people would rather have the extra $100/month than see it go to politicians and fat labor bosses. And, non union companies don’t figure into this equation, unless of course you’re advocating forcing them to unionize – a long discredited practice.

          -No banking regulations

          Absolute BS. I worked in banking audit in the 1990s and there was an enormous amount of regulations we had to comply with. And, if you’re going to go down this road, you need to acknowledge that the same behaviors are happening under Dodd-Frank that led to the 2008 crash.

          -low capital gains taxes

          Stock and option grants (the domain of people you despise) are taxed twice – once when the grant takes place and another when you sell it. Don’t hand me this crap about how there are insufficient capital gains taxes.

          And, all of these things together cannot account for ~7.9% unemployment over 5 years.

          For someone who believes in dividing resources among the masses, you sure are a waste of precious resources.

        • Jeff Jones

          > I expect nothing more than insults.


          You’re the one who calls people nazis and racists. That’s not debating, it’s puerile nonsense designed to shut down a discussion. It does not achieve the effect you desire, but DOES make your argument look vacuous. If there was any validity to your points, you wouldn’t need to trot out those dinosaurs.

          Nobody’s ideas are so ironclad as to be closed to debate.

  • Pete

    ” it’s time for the GOP to try something new.”

    Where have you kiddies been? Come on summer’s over.

    Look at the Red State to see ‘the somethings new.” Heck, sometimes ViaMeadia even reports on them..

    It is the conservative elements in the GOP that is leading the nation out of the collapsing blue model in those states.

    • bpuharic

      The right’s leading us out of the first world blue state model into the 3rd world failed state model

      Congratulations. Your children will be poorer than their grandparents

      • Jeff Jones

        Do you have any idea how utterly moronic you look calling the blue model “1st world,” while Southern Europe, the blue states, the NHS, and Obamacare are all collapsing around your wax-impacted ears?

        Eagerly awaiting your excruciatingly predictable response.

        • bpuharic

          Glad to have the Martians checking in

          When did the ‘collapse’ occur? Generally in 2007

          And what caused it? Social welfare spending? Or a worldwide liquidity crunch caused by financial sector greed?

          We know the answer to that. Greed. Wall Street and other financial sectors destroyed national economies as they transferred wealth from middle class taxpayers to their own pockets

          But the right wing, always filled with hatred for the middle class, and having a slavish devotion to the wealthy, is busily rewriting history to make it looks like grandma’s diabetes medication bankrupted the western world

          Wall Street greed nothwithstanding.

          • Jeff Jones

            I’m willing to acknowledge that Wall Street malfeasance contributed to the crash. I was furious with Wall Street in 2008. I still don’t like that culture. But, I have an equal disdain for government agency culture. They have more power to make my life difficult than Wall Street ever could, as is evidenced by the threat of losing my current health insurance. I can move all my investments into zero-risk money market accounts. What control do I have over losing that reasonably good coverage? None.

            Where I have a problem is when you refuse to admit that the federal government had a hand in 2008 too. Even Barney Frank now admits it was wrongheaded to force banks to lend to people who had no hope of making the mortgage payments. And Franklin Raines made off with $90 million of the taxpayers’ money. How is he not just as bad as the Wall Street fat cats?

          • lhfry

            Also Jim Johnson who preceded Raines at Fannie Mae. Reckless Endangerment is an excellent description of how laws and regulations largely supported by the left led to the impoverishment of the very groups they pretend to care about while enriching their good friends.
            I am always amazed at how the left denigrates big corporations yet deifies big government. They think the motivations of the leaders of each are different.

          • bpuharic

            GSE’s had almost no role in the blowout engineered by Wall Street since they were late in the game. It was credit default swaps, a scam in the Wall Street casino game after the right deregulated Wall Street

          • lhfry

            I guess you need to read the book before you comment.

          • Jim__L

            The practice of giving away subprime loans IS a social welfare program.

            The fact that banks aided and abetted this practice just goes to show how wrongheaded it is.

            So yes, social welfare programs caused the crash. They’re also causing our national debt — if you zeroed out Defense, you’d still have a deficit. If you zeroed out our social welfare programs, you’d have a surplus of over trillion.

            “Imperial overstretch” is dead. “Social spending overstretch” is the new nation-destroyer.

          • bpuharic

            TARP is a social welfare program too.It cost us more in 24 hours than welfare has in 100 years.

            Social welfare is designed to protect the middle class.Welfare programs for the rich are designed to make America a banana republic

            Thanks right wingers

          • Jim__L

            The first paragraph is nowhere near correct, unless you’re using a ludicrously narrow definition of Social Welfare that only includes AFDC. (Whose budget is roughly the same as NASA.)

            The stimulus package as a whole (including TARP) cost us about as much as NASA has cost us in its entire Moon-shot, Hubble-scope, Mars-mission existence. (~$800B.)

            Social Welfare programs in this country in addition to AFDC (the definition you appear to be using in the 2nd paragraph) cost more than double every year (~$2T) compared to the Stimulus Package.

            For further comparison, the Defense budget is under $700B / yr, and that includes wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

          • bpuharic

            To the right wing, a social welfare program is one that incurs moral hazard. Except if it benefits the rich

            Tax expenditures like lower capital gains taxes, carried interest deductions or elimination of taxes all together for the rich are ‘supply side economics’ which anyone who has a wallet knows is a lie.

            And TARP was welfare for the rich. But somehow the fact THIS incurs moral hazard is completely ignored by the right in their headlong rush to make supply side economics gospel.

            Social welfare, as Adam Smith pointed out, protects the middle class against the rapaciousness of business men, which is why he was for it

            America’s right thinks the rich need to be protected from the middle class.

          • Jeff Jones

            >Tax expenditures like lower capital gains taxes, carried interest deductions or elimination of taxes all together for the rich are ‘supply side economics’ which anyone who has a wallet knows is a lie

            What a caricature you are. I knew the real left-wing buffoon would come out. Up to now, you’ve stuck to the “right wingers hate the middle class” party line. Now the leftist meat rears its ugly head.

            Letting people keep more of the money they earn is NOT an “expenditure” by the government. If you believe that, you also have to believe that all money belongs to the government to begin with, and that they’re being charitable with whatever they allow us to keep.

            And there is no such thing as an “unfunded tax cut” for the same reason.

          • Jeff Jones

            It’s hopeless. Bpuharic is content with citing $2 trillion for Bush’s wars (it’s real closer to 1 trillion), as the reason for all problems in our society….along with tax cuts, of course.

            He never acknowledges the fact that the national debt is now close to $17 trillion, mostly because of “great” society and social welfare spending. If that’s not true, I have yet to hear him say why. He just goes back to the same old lines reflexively.

          • Jeff Jones

            By the way, TARP passed on a bi-partisan vote, so you are on shaky ground with using that as an example of conservative love for rich people.

            Most conservatives (me included) want tax cuts for everyone and every business. Our desire to see that happen does not demonstrate a love for any particular group. I want the government to stop providing social programs to people who don’t need them. Like I’ve said before, if we weren’t providing Medicare to every citizen, Medicaid would be a much stronger program. Lower middle class people need Medicare, but why do upper middle class and rich people need it?

            How is the above evidence of a love for rich people?

  • Corlyss

    “The truth is that Republicans can only profit so much from Obama’s failures.”

    All other things being equal, we should have profited from this administrations chronic and disastrous amateurism last year. But the crop of Republicans now marketable as presidential candidates is incapable of making the case. Locally, sure, the Tea Parties can generate enough hostility to individual purple and blue congressmen. But the party is so crippled in communications skills that I doubt Reagan could get elected now. Republicans refuse to make the moral arguments necessary to convince even their own people how important it is to drive liberals out of office before they and their RINO buddies destroy this country. Republicans fight by Marquis of Queensbury rules, are always polite and give the benefit of the doubt to Dems, while Dems are street-fighters and thugs that carry shivs, employee 3rd parties for metaphorical assassinations, and don’t hesitate to use every tool and trick available to them to destroy their opponents. Republicans in short do not take politics seriously.

    • bpuharic

      The US right is the most extreme it’s been in 60 years yet they insist we need to go further right.

      Perhaps the wizard of oz can help their delusions.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The GOP desperately needs a change in leadership in the House and Senate. The old Establishment Republicans in charge, have all “Gone Washington” and are out of touch with the desires of their base. Through their control of the party’s donors and budget, they have forced the nomination of two losers in a row. John “stab the conservatives in the back” McCain, and Mitt “Romneycare” Romney, neither of these candidates had any support from the conservative TEA Party base of the Republican Party.
    We can see that all of the recent Republican success has come from outside the Establishment Republican’s control. The TEA Party inspired wave election in 2010, the Wisconsin show down with the Labor gangs, the recent “2nd Amendment rights” recalls in Colorado, etc… Compare these victories with the dismal 2012 election where 10% or more of the base wasn’t excited enough to even show up to vote.

    • bpuharic

      Here’s hoping the GOP does go tea party. It’s hated among young Republicans and that may be enough to drive them out of the GOP for the next generation

      Have at it.

      • Jeff Jones

        Wishful thinking.

  • Fat_Man

    Is restoring constitutional government a sufficient program?

    • shermanlee1


      Not politically, anyway, because the electorate has different ideas on what the Constitution means than either liberal or conservative activists tend to.

      When a social conservative and a libertarian call for following the Constitution, they are both usually sincere, but they are actually calling for basically different things.

      This is what tripped the GOP up when they used to gloat over the polling data that said 40% of the electorate self-identified as ‘conservative’, much bigger than the faction that called themselves either ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’. The problem was that it was self-identified, meaning different definitions were being used of ‘conservative’.

      “Do you consider yourself a conservative?”

      There were people who said yes who thought Roosevelt was cool, but that abortion is an atrocity and and that America’s religious and social traditions were threatened by the social upheaval of the 60s. There were also people who said yes who see abortion as a private matter and think the big problem is the New Deal.

      Tighten up the definitions and suddenly that advantage evaporates, as we saw in 20008 and 2012.

  • Jeff Jones

    Hey guys. Let’s listen to bpuharic on this topic!!!! I’m sure we’ll get the best, most reliable plans for GOP success from him. Don’t you think?

  • ljgude

    Yes, the more conservative party finds itself in the position of having to lead the way because the left has become the status quo. That’s why Biden could roll his eyes at Paul Ryan and get away with it – mid century Liberalism is the common sense of our time even if it is failing. The GOP is genuinely divided into many factions and have not coalesced around a coherent program of reform. 2016 is going to be tough.

  • Boritz

    As long as the Karl Rove/Bush/McCain/Graham axis IS the Republican Party then the Republicans will continue to select candidates suitable to this power block and they will lose more often than not as has been well demonstrated.

  • Jim__L

    An “anti-Bush wave” elected Obama twice.

    • shermanlee1


      This is one the myths that the GOP keeps tripping over, that somehow Bush is dragging them down. It’s only semi-true, in the sense that elections are decided by turnout, turnout, turnout, turnout, turnout. There was no particular ‘anti-Bush wave’, the people who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 would have voted for Obama no matter who the GOP ran, with rare exceptions. The problem is that the GOP voters were deeply unwilling to vote for either McCain or Romney, and it was the very things that made those two men somwhat appealing to the GOP apparat and upper levels that repelled the rank-and-file. From 2006 on, the GOP establishment pushed Rudy, McCain, and Romney, and tried to narrow it down to those 3 options, and they simply were not electable because their own side didn’t really want them.

      (Of the 3, Romney was probably the least bad, Rudy would have been by far the worst, politically. McCain and ROmney at least made a respectable showing on E-day, Rudy would have been shellacked.)

      The GOP has to find a way to turn out their base, and that begins by recognizing who their base voters are, and why they vote, no matter how unappetizing that information turns out to be. Otherwise, no matter how badly Obama screws up, they won’t be able to take advantage.

      The GOP voting base is _not_ primarily made up of libertarians of any stripe. They are _not_ primarily driven by a desire to either cut or privatize Medicare or SoSec, they tend ot be hostile to such ideas. They do _not_ usually want open borders policies. They _do_ hate Obamacare, but their reasons are as much or more abortion and death panels than issues of cost or ownership. They do _not_, for the most part, want to do most of what the GOP business wing does want to do. That’s the problem the GOP is stumbling over. The 2010 election was _not_ about ‘freedom of contract’, small government, entitlement privatization, or free trade. That may be painful for conservatives of some belief stripes, but it’s the truth.

      McCain and Romney tried to win by running away from their base, more-or-less reprising Bob Dole’s campaign, and getting similar results. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, or Mitch Daniels would almost certainly have lost by more than Romney did, and for comparable reasons.

  • shermanlee1

    The GOP has a basic, innate political problem, and they’ve had it ever since the 1930s in one form or another.

    For years, the Dems thrived on the public perception of being the ‘party of the working man’ while the GOP struggled with the perception of being ‘the party of the rich’. By ‘party of the rich’, people really meant ‘the party of business’. The Great Depression changed America profoundly, and permanently, along with the closure of the frontier, and the GOP never entirely came to terms with that fact. They kept waiting for the aberration of FDR to pass, and this kept them in a permanent minority status for decades on end, because FDR had built an overwhelmingly dominant coalition that they just couldn’t defeat. Those parts of the New Deal that the public disliked were pared away over the years, leaving the hard core of Social Security, later joined by Medicare, and the public _likes and approves_ of those, in both principle and practice.

    From about 1945 to 1980, the GOP was almost always in the minority in the House, only occasionally held the Senate (and that because of the fact that the State lines sometimes amplified the GOP position), and sometimes the WHite House was GOP, but to gain that the GOP had to run on national defense, or else get it by default when the Dems screwed up. Each time the GOP would treat a win as a mandate to roll back the New Deal or alter Social Security or Medicare, they found themselves voted out.

    What changed? Simple, the 1960s. The FDR coalition was broken by the social changes of the 60s and 70s, the Social Conservatives came over and began voting GOP out of revulsion at was happening in the Democratic Party after McGovern and the 72-74 elections. Social issues, plus concerns about national security, drove enough Dems to vote GOP to crack the FDR coalition. The ‘southern strategy’ was about far more then just race, though that was a factor at first, and the growing GOP influence derived from this split in the FDR coalition. Nixon won on ‘law and order’ and because McGovern promised to ‘beg on his knees’ for peace, which didn’t play well. Reagan won in 1980 (narrowly in popular vote terms) because Carter had proven be so ineffectual, and because he broke his implied promise to turn the Democratic Party away from McGovern’s agenda.

    This is critical to understanding what has happened, BTW. Reagan did _not_ win by a landslide in 1980, in popular vote terms. Ronald Reagan got 50.8% of the popular vote in 1980. That’s right, Ronald Reagan won almost exactly the same percentage of the popular vote in 1980 that GWB did in 2004.

    The reason he had the illusion of a landslide was that a third party candidate, Anderson, pulled 6.6% of the vote, almost all of which came from Carter. Add that 6.6% to Carter’s 41% and suddenly what looked like a landslide looks a lot like recent elections, with a split of 50.8% gainst 47.6%. Reagan _did_ win hugely in 1984, but that was partly because after 4 years, the public trusted him not to implement the parts of the GOP agenda they hated…and because they also left the House in Democrat hands, making substantial cuts to SoSec impossible.

    The voters alienated by McGovern came back to the Dems in 1976, in part because of Watergate, but also because Carter ran as a ‘southern Democrat’, as the antidote to McGovern. Those voters, at heart, _wanted_ to vote Dem. They liked Democratic economics but hated Dem social agendas. But Carter, who ran as a conservative Dem, _governed_ as a McGovernite, and alienated a lot of those voters even more completely. Reagan ran on that, and made a point of emphasizing that he was against the Great Society, not the New Deal. He had to do that to win, even against Jimmy Carter and even with a third party drawing off votes from the Dems.

    Ever since then, the GOP, embarrassed by the SoCons, periodically tries to win without them, trying to emphasize ‘economics only’. The result, every time it’s been tried nationally, has been defeat. It spelled defeat for Bush Sr., Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, as well as costing the GOP congressional elections in 1998 and 2006. (The GOP didn’t lose in 1998 because they went after Clinton over Monica, they lost because they tried to back off and drop it in the middle, alienating their own voters while leaving the Dems furious. The 2006 failure was not abotu Iraq, it was about Amnesty.)

    The GOP elites are social liberals, for the most part. In general, abortion doesn’t bother them, gay marriage doesn’t bother them, they believe in a certain version of free trade, in amnesty and open borders, cheap labor is a high priority. They basically respond to the Chamber of Commerce and the business agenda, which is manifestly _not_ the same thing as free markets.

    The GOP social conservatives and nationalists increasingly lean protectionist, see abortion as basic and non-negotiable issue, regard gay marriage as a contradiction in terms, believe in national sovereingty and strong militaries rather than international organizations, do _not_ want to privatize or cut Social Security or Medicare, do not approve of the racial/gender based spoils system, hate immigration amnesties and open borders policies, and despise Obamcare.

    The business wing likes Obamacare because they hope to offload their medical costs onto the taxpayers. The base hates Obamacare because of its social issue implications, esp. about abortion and euthanasia.

    This means that the GOP really, truly is at war with itself. The candidates the elites are willing to fund, the GOP voters are unwilling to elect, and it’s precisely the things that appeal to the elites that the voters hate. The GOP voters want policies that make the Chamber of Commerce choke. The GOP became competitive again by bringing in former New Dealers who used to be reliable Dems, but those voters didn’t really change their minds about much, they just hated what had become of the Dems. They did not become either libertarians or country-club Republicans when they changed parties, at heart they still have a lot of New Deal sympathies. They’ll _trade_ some of the things they hate for some of the things they like, but that’s as far as it goes.

    This dichotomy is paralyzing the party. The GOP wants to move away from social conservatism entirely. That leaves their SoCons with no reason to vote for them _at all_, and doesn’t bring in Democrats, who nod in approval at deemphasizing social conservatism, and then demand that the GOP also abandon its economic agenda too.

    Economic conservatism, in both its libertarian and country club strains, is basically _unpopular_. This basic, inescapable truth is at the heart of the GOP’s problem. The infamous ‘gender gap’ is far more driven by economics than abortion. The ‘Reagan Democrats’ who made the GOP competitive again still dislike the GOP economic agenda. Wall Street is just as distrusted by the GOP base as is by the Democrats, though not necesarily for the same reasons.

    To implement some of their agenda, economic conservatives _require_ alliance from somebody else, which requires agenda tradeoffs, and the number of possible, realistic possible coalition partners is finite.

    This isn’t entirely fair, and the Dems in practice are just as much in the pocket of big business as the GOP, but that doens’t help very much. When the GOP holds up Paul Ryan, of Medicare vouchers fame, as the face of the party, they’re effectively committing political _suicide_. When the GOP presses forward with Comprehensive Amnesty (also supported by Ryan) in defiance of _their own voters_, it’s no use wondering why nobody seems to want them in power.

    The GOP has to start any attempt to take advantage of Dem mistakes by recognizing who their own voters are…and who they are not.

    • Jim__L

      What’s your take on 2010, if GOP voters aren’t economically conservative?

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