Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Making sense of stupid

I have a feeling that sometimes politicians make utterly stupid remarks intentionally. I think they know that stupid remarks don't really come back to hurt them and that by saying such things, they distract attention from other, more important, and more complex issues because it's just so easy to attack stupid. A great example of this is the ongoing bruhaha about House Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-Ohio) claim that no stimulus funds have gone to help Ohio. You can read about the embruglio here.

The short version is that Boehner claimed over the weekend that no stimulus infrastructure dollars have been spent/contracted in Ohio and thus the stimulus is no good. This claim was kind of like dropping a pocketfull of change at a political fundraiser - it got everyone scrambling. In fact, the DNC has gone nuts over trying to capitilize on stupid. Never mind that one stupid claim from Boehner masks the fact that he's an utter buffoon, it's just a lot easier to show that he doesn't know what he's talking about on a relatively substanceless gaffe than it is to show that he doesn't know what he's talking about on health care, foreign policy, et al.

I think strategically, the Dems kind of fall into this trap of pointing out stupid when they should be rolling the GOP on the issues. At the end of the day, 90% of the people paying attention aren't going to remember or care that Boehner said something factually inaccurate and stupid. And the 10% that do care are hardened partisans who can't be wooed either way. I suspect the DNC capitalizes on these types of gaffes for short term funding more than anything but I think they're making a colossal error.

We face two significant domestic issues which need urgent attention and to which the GOP is playing an obstructionist role: the economy and health care. I wonder how much mileage the DNC could make by attacking the GOP on their foolish, obstructionist, and utterly awful arguments that we don't need stimulus, that the economy is fine, and that we have the best health care system in the world.

Now, you may say, but the DNC is attacking Boehner because he tried to argue that the stimulus failed. True, but only reactively. We obviously need more stimulus to avert a jobless recovery that leaves the US with over 10% unemployment for a half decade. In politics, as in life, it's not so much about what you did, it's about what you're going to do. The DNC should be proactively attacking the GOP and their ideas and proposing their own solutions. There is an entire war to be fought over Health Care and yet the DNC doesn't seem to realize that and are doing as little as possible, all the while the Dems in Congress talk about bipartisanship.

Here it is: F*ck bipartisanship. We won, remember. We got to 60 (sort of). We got the Presidency. The GOP lost both chambers of Congress and the White House because their ideas failed. Is it really time, when we have huge majorities and the public is behind us, to turn around and give creedence to failed ideas? I think not.

As a final note, it's so galling to see politicians not realize the simple reasons why Obama won and Kerry didn't. There's the microanalysis which suggests that Kerry got killed by attack ads, etc. And then there's the macroanalysis which should come as a slap in the face to all those overpriced political consultants: Obama won because he proposed change (whatever the hell that means) and Kerry lost because he spent most of his time criticizing Bush. I still don't know what Kerry stood for and I was a supporter.

This same dynamic, a dynamic we've seen repeated over and over again (Reagan, Clinton, Bush II, Obama) is, for some reason, only replicated at the presidential election. It shouldn't be so limited. Obama's big argument, his explanations for change, of the liberal philosophy, those are the types of things that need to be used to push the US into a much more effective and economical health care system. Yet instead, we're left with, "Haha, John Boehner said something stupid! He has no ideas! Nanananabooboo!" These ads, of course, raise the question: What are your ideas then, DNC?



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