Republican Stupid Disease
Clear thinking has never been Republicans’ strong suit, but in the six weeks since Barack Obama took office, a particularly virulent strain of stupid disease has been raging among Republican leaders in Congress as well as on the right side of the blogosphere.
Others have noted this (sometimes more than once), but it astounds me every time I see it — which I did, again, yesterday, with this post by Patterico in which he says that Democrats should not complain about Rush Limbaugh stating that he wants Pres. Obama to fail, because Democrats were rooting for George W. Bush to fail, too (emphasis in original):
Let’s put aside arguments about Rush Limbaugh for the time being and recognize that he’s undeniably right about this:
Were the liberals out there hoping Bush succeeded or were they out there trying to destroy him before he was even inaugurated?
I think we all know the answer to that — but here’s some hard proof. Reader jimboster passes along a 2006 poll (.pdf) that proves the point. Check out question 10 — and pay particular attention to how the answers break down by party:
Recall that in August 2006, we were in the thick of a war whose outcome was uncertain. And Democrats didn’t want Bush to succeed.
Have this poll handy the next time some Democrat gets snooty about Rush wanting Obama to fail. It’s proof that the Democrats didn’t want Bush to succeed. They have no standing to claim the moral high ground. None.
Other righties eagerly chimed in their agreement. In one instance, the blogger undermined his own argument and didn’t seem to notice. Under the heading, “Ending the ‘I Want Obama To Fail’ Kerfuffle,” Bruce McQuain writes:
The difference, of course, is instead of 51% of Democrats telling a polling company they wanted Bush to fail, an influential conservative came right out and said it about Obama.
That is correct. Too bad Bruce can’t grasp the substantive difference between registered Democratic voters choosing one of two possible answers to a question asked by a pollster (a question cast in highly loaded language by a Bush-friendly news organization), and an extremely well-known and massively influential right-wing media pundit proactively stating, on radio and television, on the Internet and in print, that he hopes the president of the United States (and thus the country) fails.
There is also the small detail that Rush Limbaugh isn’t even the only right-wing public figure to openly wish for Pres. Obama to fail.
Jonah Goldberg in the March 3 edition of the Los Angeles Times:
Here we go again. Rush Limbaugh is public enemy No. 1.
Liberal bloggers and media chin-strokers are aghast at Limbaugh’s statement that he hopes Barack Obama fails.
Well, given what Obama wants to do, I hope he fails too. …
Tom DeLay at CPAC (emphasis in original):
… In an interview with ThinkProgress at CPAC today, we asked DeLay whether he agrees with Limbaugh’s statements. DeLay said Limbaugh was “exactly” right to root for Obama’s failure:
TP: Do you agree with Rush Limbaugh that we shouldn’t hope for President Obama to succeed?
DELAY: Well, exactly right. I don’t want this for our nation. That’s for sure.
Mark Levin and Rick Santorum, also at CPAC:
Talk show host Mark Levin and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum added to the chorus when interviewed by Think Progress:
TP: What do you think about what Rush said about, I mean, do you hope, should we hope that President Obama fails?
SANTORUM: If…absolutely we hope that his policies fail. I believe his policies will fail, I don’t know, but I hope they fail.
Mike Pence, on CNN:
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), who is the third-highest member of the House GOP in his role as conference chairman, appeared yesterday on CNN and quite loudly agreed with Rush Limbaugh — he wants President Obama to fail:
Rick Sanchez: Do you want Barack Obama to fail?
Pence: Oh, come on, Rick. Nice try. I know what Rush Limbaugh meant. I actually listened to him about a month ago when he made this point on the air. I heard much of his speech on Saturday.
Look, everybody wants America to succeed. But everyone like me, like Rush Limbaugh and others who believes in limited government, who believes in conservative values, wants the policies that this administration is bringing forward — higher taxes, a massive increase in government spending, a huge increase in the role of government in our daily lives, a departure from traditional values — you bet, we want those policies to fail.
Because, Rick, we know big government, increases in debt, the micromanagement of the economy out of Washington, D.C. is a policy that will fail. It has failed throughout the last century, across the globe…
I’ll also bet that no one talking about this ginned-up controversy told you that he said this on January 16th, before the President was inaugurated. That makes a difference, doesn’t it?
Why, yes, Jimmie, it does. It makes it worse. It means that Limbaugh was rooting for Obama’s policies to fail before Obama had even proposed any. Obama had not even taken office yet, and Limbaugh was rooting for his presidency to fail.
As a matter of fact, it’s pretty darned clear that he was in no way saying that he hopes the President’s policies, when they are enacted, will fail. He was saying that he wants the President to fail to get his policies enacted. That’s hardly a controversial position, unless you take four words completely out of their linguistic and temporal context, which is exactly what the White House’s attack team did.
It just floors me how wingnuts can put up a direct quote, and still lie about what it says. Here is the entire (long) Limbaugh quote that Jimmie, uh, quotes:
I got a request here from a major American print publication. “Dear Rush: For the Obama [Immaculate] Inauguration we are asking a handful of very prominent politicians, statesmen, scholars, businessmen, commentators, and economists to write 400 words on their hope for the Obama presidency. We would love to include you. If you could send us 400 words on your hope for the Obama presidency, we need it by Monday night, that would be ideal.” Now, we’re caught in this trap again. The premise is, what is your “hope.” My hope, and please understand me when I say this. I disagree fervently with the people on our side of the aisle who have caved and who say, “Well, I hope he succeeds. We’ve got to give him a chance.” Why? They didn’t give Bush a chance in 2000. Before he was inaugurated the search-and-destroy mission had begun. I’m not talking about search-and-destroy, but I’ve been listening to Barack Obama for a year-and-a-half. I know what his politics are. I know what his plans are, as he has stated them. I don’t want them to succeed.
If I wanted Obama to succeed, I’d be happy the Republicans have laid down. And I would be encouraging Republicans to lay down and support him. Look, what he’s talking about is the absorption of as much of the private sector by the US government as possible, from the banking business, to the mortgage industry, the automobile business, to health care. I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I don’t want this to work. So I’m thinking of replying to the guy, “Okay, I’ll send you a response, but I don’t need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.” (interruption) What are you laughing at? See, here’s the point. Everybody thinks it’s outrageous to say. Look, even my staff, “Oh, you can’t do that.” Why not? Why is it any different, what’s new, what is unfair about my saying I hope liberalism fails? Liberalism is our problem. Liberalism is what’s gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here. Why do I want more of it? I don’t care what the Drive-By story is. I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: “Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.” Somebody’s gotta say it.
The bolds are Jimmie’s. The italics are mine. And so yes, it IS “pretty darned clear” what Limbaugh was saying. He was saying he hoped Obama failed. In fact, not only is it “clear” that he said he hopes Obama fails — it’s what he said. Read the words, folks: “I hope he fails.” Can’t get any clearer than that.
So now what I want to know is, Which high-profile liberal media pundit said, “I hope he fails,” about George W. Bush? Show me which wildly famous and influential liberal blogger or commentator said that or wrote that. Show me which Democrat in Congress said, of George W. Bush after he was appointed president by the Supreme Court, or after he won a second term in office, “I hope he fails.”
You can’t, because no liberal media pundit or Democratic member of Congress said that, or anything like it.
John Cole asked the same question, on March 4 — and unlike me, he was a Republican when Bush was in his first term:
I remember 2000 and 2001 pretty well. I was a Republican at the time, and we have talked before about how excited I was to vote for Bush. I remember not being able to sleep, waking up early to go vote as soon as the polls open, and I remember going to see a movie during the afternoon to take my mind off the election (I even remember what movie it was- Charlies Angels, which was brand new in the theatres, and I went with my friend’s girlfriend, who was just dying to see it, but he refused to go because he thought it would suck. He was right. They later got married.). I remember coming home and watching the returns until late in the morning, I remember the sinking feeling over Florida, and thinking “We are going to get screwed. The Democrats are going to steal this.” I remember all of that.
But here is what I don’t remember. I don’t remember one single Democrat standing up on national television and loudly proclaiming “I hope George Bush fails.” I simply do not remember it happening at all.
So until Michael Scherer and others can show me the clips or transcripts of Democrats sitting around rooting for Bush and this country to fail, I think he and everyone else defending the Republicans and Limbaugh, who are explicitly stating they want President Obama to fail and stating it at a time of FAR greater consequence than we had in 2001, can quite simply just shut up.
And just so we are clear, until shown otherwise, what I remember is the following:
2001, time of mild economic downturn but with a large budget surplus projected as far as the eyes can see, and Democrats stated the tax cuts are bad policy and should not be adopted.
2009, during two wars, a financial disaster, an economic crisis and massive unemployment and trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, and the Republicans and Limbaugh are rooting for Obama to fail so they can regain some political power.
Until I am shown otherwise, that is how I see things. What is happening right now is nuts, and there simply is no comparison. Show me the tapes. Show me the transcripts. Show me Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid standing in front of a camera saying “I want President Bush to fail” just like we have seen Mike Pence and the parade of other Republican leaders do in the past few days. Bring it on, and I don’t mean some random jackass on the internet or some crazy tenured prof at a community college somewhere. I will admit my memory was wrong if it happened, but I want to see it, because I don’t remember it. And I’m not merely talking about opposition to policy. I mean stating that they wanted the President to fail. And then when you are done, you can show me the video tapes or transcripts of all the Democrats groveling and begging for forgiveness at the feet of Michael Moore (who, by the way, is fat) after dissing him.
And, folks, the above piece of writing is why John Cole is no longer a Republican. He is fair, he is intelligent, and his cognitive, reasoning, and critical thinking skills are fully operational.