Thursday, April 2, 2009

GOP Follies

Take a look at some of the recent headlines depicting the antics of the Republicans and their conservative allies and see if you don’t come to the same conclusion thatI did: these people have no interest in being taken seriously.

— Their version of a “budget”: Josh Marshall has the details.

[T]heir new-found allegiance to fiscal discipline has them lowering the top marginal tax rate to 25% (it’s currently 35%, with the Bush tax cuts), which for anyone who knows anything about the federal budget would pretty much inevitably lead to gargantuan federal deficits and the Treasury exploding probably some time early in the next decade. They manage to still have the deficits coming down by bunch of nonsense hokum about oil rigs and other foolery.

— They let people like Michele Bachmann go on TV without her keeper:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) appeared on Glenn Beck’s TV show yesterday, to talk up her proposed constitutional amendment to stop the Obama administration from replacing the dollar with a global currency […] Bachmann boasted that she’s picked up 30 cosponsors so far, to which Beck replied: “I can’t believe that you’ve only got 30 cosponsors. I mean — how is it you could walk around going, “I just — this is just, hey, save the dollar.’ And only 30 people are willing to say, ‘Eh that sounds like a good thing, let’s give that a shot.'”

Bachmann’s proposed constitutional amendment states: “The President may not enter into a treaty or other international agreement that would provide for the United States to adopt as legal tender in the United States a currency issued by an entity other than the United States.”

Again, there is no such proposal on the table, to replace the dollar as legal tender in the United States. The proposal going around has to do with the creation of a new unit of exchange and reserves for international trade.

Bachmann seemed to understand part of this distinction during the Glenn Beck appearance, and was warning that the replacement of the dollar as the international standard would by itself seriously devalue the dollar. But she also gave a whole lot of dire warnings about the threat of international institutions subverting the constitution and American authority, so she definitely covered all the bases.

— In other news from Minnesota, the GOP is planning to drag out the Coleman-Franken senate election until the next election.

— Their everyman spokesman “Joe the Plumber” is drafted to campaign around the country against labor unions and proves he has no idea what he’s talking about.

— And then there’s Rush Limbaugh, the de facto leader of the party, holding forth with scatological references to the British Prime Minister’s warm greeting of President Obama at the start of the G20 summit in London: “If Gordon Brown keeps ‘slobbering’ over Obama, he’ll ‘come down with anal poisoning and may die from it.'” Classy guy.

I suppose this is the result of having lost two elections in a row after putting up a president who couldn’t have demonstrated less in-depth knowledge or interest in the actual role of governing than if he had spent the entire eight years of his term playing Donkey Kong. The very idea that the members of Congress would come up with a budget that calls for five years of spending freezes and dishes out huge tax breaks to the wealthy in the middle of a recession cannot be taken as anything other than either a joke or a plot-line from an SNL skit.

As for the ravings of the lunatic fringe, it is breathtaking in its pure imagination and scope. I knew way back even before Barack Obama was nominated that if he won the election the crazies and the trivial pursuits would come out of the woodwork, but so far they have proved themselves to be more than up for the challenge of proving that the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius is finite.

I know the Democrats are capable of their own foolishness and have earned their own marks with lunatics on their own side and hare-brained ideas for how to govern, but compared to the precise choreography, magnificent sets, and beautifully timed entrances and exits that would make Zeigfeld jealous, the Democrats come across like a summer camp skit. For sheer showmanship, nobody does it better than the Republicans in full showboat mode. That’s great theatre, but it’s not how you govern a country.