Wednesday, May 10, 2006

GOP Ideas for ’06 and Other Myths

Harold Meyerson on the Republicans’ plan for winning the mid-terms:

The emerging Republican game plan for 2006 is, at bottom, a tautology: If the Democrats retake Congress it will mean, well, that the Democrats retake Congress. (Cue lightning bolt and ominous clap of thunder.) Karl Rove and his minions have plumb run out of issues to campaign on. They can’t run on the war. They can’t run on the economy, where the positive numbers on growth are offset by the largely stagnant numbers on median incomes and the public’s growing dread of outsourcing. Immigration may play in various congressional districts, but it’s too dicey an issue to nationalize. Even social conservatives may be growing weary of outlawing gay marriage every other November. Nobody’s buying the ownership society. Competence? Ethics? You kidding?

The Republicans’ problem is not simply their inability to run their government and wage their war of choice, it is also their bankruptcy of ideas. On taxes, the Republican legislative leaders’ top priorities are to make permanent the tax cut on investment income and to repeal the estate tax — economics, as ever, for our wealthiest 1 percent. (This at a time when the entire theory of trickle-down has been negated by the propensity of U.S. corporations to use their shareholders’ investments to expand abroad rather than at home.) On energy, the notions of tougher fuel economy standards and mandating a shift to renewable energy sources are so alien to the Republicans’ DNA that they come forth with such proposals as Bill Frist’s $100 rebate, the most short-lived legislative initiative in recent memory.


And so, to stave off the specter of Democratic rule, Rove has decided that the only way to rally the Republican base is to invoke the specter of Democratic rule. Democrat John Conyers, who would become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has spoken of investigating the president for high crimes and misdemeanors. Henry Waxman and Ted Kennedy will get subpoena power if the Democrats win both houses. Unspecified horrors lurk behind every corner if the Democrats take control and hold hearings about the administration’s relations with the oil and pharmaceutical industries. A sea of partisan vendetta, Republicans prophesy, stretches to the horizon if the Democrats are allowed to win.

(Ahem) I’ve been saying that for a while.

And lo and behold, the Democrats are actually girding their loins and preparing to repel the expected attack. They’re not curling up in a ball and cringing in the corner whimpering “Please don’t hurt me” every time Karl Rove or Liddy Dole or some talking head on Fox clears their throat. They’re going to get some flack for daring to raise their hand and offer ideas such as raising the minimum wage, fully implementing the 9/11 commission plans, and balancing the budget. I suppose to a Republican, those ideas are scary.

As for giving Teddy Kennedy and Henry Waxman subpeona power to investigate the Bush administration, I repeat the oft-shrugged-off response the GOP gave when the warrantless wiretapping was revealed: If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about.