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Downward Spiral a Winner for the GOP?

By John Martin - Posted on 08 March 2009

Republicans want Obama’s presidency to fail. They also claim to be certain that it will fail.  But if they’re really confident that things will end up exactly as they want, then why all the bitching and moaning.  Why don’t they just sit tight until 2010 gives them Congress and 2012 the White House.  If the Democrats’ demise is actually right around the corner—as Republicans insist it now is— then they should already be breaking out the scotch and cigars and patting each other on the back.

But they’re not.

Why?  Mostly because nobody knows what’s ahead for the nation over the next week, year or ten years, and nobody knows how our current and impending troubles will play out politically, and what effect they will have on the electorate.  The GOP has already gone to great lengths to tie our faltering economy to Barack’s first seven weeks in office, but so far that’s not taking.  It may not take for a long, long time, especially if Barack comes across as engaged and working to get the nation out of this abyss.

It’s tempting to assume that an even more desperate economy will throw the nation behind the GOP, or at least give them some traction.  What it might instead do is give Barack reasons and room to lurch leftward, as people look towards the government to help them avoid utter despair.  So far Obama has refused to raise taxes on anyone, for instance (something Republicans should obviously be applauding), but that might change.  Here in New York, groups like “Fair Share Tax Reform” are already organizing, calling for steep tax hikes on the wealthy as a way to avoid further cuts in social services.  What will happen to such groups if unemployment hits 10%?  What about 15 or 20%?  You don't think they'll get louder and even more difficult to ignore?  What about the Republican Party line.  Do you think people will all of a sudden throw the GOP their support, when they couldn't even address working people's concerns during the good years?

A depression would further expose the Republicans empty basket of ideas, and cast even more doubts on unfettered, unregulated capitalism.  This would further erode the Republican brand and permanently cast them as unable and unwilling to adapt to reality.  The voters didn’t want what the GOP was offering last November.  I'm not sure that'll change if things get worse.

I think you've hit it right on the nose here, John. The worse the economy gets the more the public will blame the GOP and demand that the government (and the Democrats) do something.

In fact, the more the Republicans stonewall the president's honest overtures to consensus and bipartisanship, the more likely it is that he'll give up the attempt altogether and move even further to the left.  

"For those who plan with audacity and execute with vigor,
progress is the magnificent by product." 

The idea that those who vigorously oppose President Obama’s approach to governing for his failure is not realistic or sane. The Obama taxes come into play in 2011. Hopefully we’ll be out of the worst of this by then. No one knows, of course. But hopefully. So what we have right now is a massive increase in debt, a hefty tax cut for most people that happens right away, and a tax increase down the road to begin cutting some of the debt we’re taking on now as a consequence of previous mismanagement. Over the long term we need a health care solution and we need to cut energy use. And whatever the economic climate Republicans always say “no!” to both. We are in this precisely because no one in American politics ever looks beyond the next election. President Obama is finally trying to do that and avoid the next crisis and the next after that.
I am surprised the GOP has gone full force with the "Obama's plans will hurt, not help the economy" (some even saying they hope Obama fails.) This seems to leave them very little wiggle room if things do improve. In my mind, I felt that the only chance Republicans have for redemption would be a continued downward plunge in the economy over the next few years, allowing them to claim the stimulus failed and they "told us so." But your perspective is interesting. Will people reject the GOP even more if things decline? Your ideas are certainly plausible. I suppose only time will tell but my sense is that the GOP (at least as we know it) is closer and closer to the grace with every passing day.

"Will people reject the GOP even more if things decline?"

I don't know what will happen, nobody does, but the fact that the Republicans are not only saying that Obama will fail, but actually give the impression that they're willing to do anything to make that happen, gives reasons for the people to actually blame them the mess even more. Had they just stayed out the way then they could've reaped the benefits of a failure. 

The thing is, the end of the downturn is really tough to spot. Some economists think we'll be in this for an additional two years, others say 12-18 months. If the economy turns around sooner than 2010, the GOP would be hosed if they went with a "let 'em destroy themselves" strategy. Also, they're desperate for political brownie points like "principled opposition", and Pelosi's and Frank's partisanship give them plenty of cannon fodder.

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

I really think this recent GOP talk of (McCain and others) that Obama should just let the banks fail is an example of trying to help Obama fail. Imagine the result of a huge bank collapse, the chain reaction, the loss of jobs. That is the only reason Obama feels the need to keep bailing them out. I'm sure he hates every second. But do any of these clowns have an alternative? When pressed and asked about the consequence of a bank failure, do they have anything to say, any new ideas? I think we all know the answer. But imagine how gleeful the GOP would be to say something like:

GM failed under Obama

Great Depression Part II took place under Obama's watch

Again, I just can't help being cynical when the GOP leader (Rush) is openly wishing for Obama's failure and nobody is really calling him out on it (sorry, saying you want Obama's policies to fail is the same thing.)

Exactly. That's why anything these obstructionists say goes in one ear and comes out the other. Not worth processing.
Modern Republicanism has gone from William F. Buckley to Rush Limbaugh. But not all is gloomy. After all, Lincoln started his political career as a Whig. You need to split the remains of the GOP into a party of Rush Limbaugh and a party of David Brooks, as the Whigs split themselves. After all, as Pres. Obama has reminded us: a crisis is an opportunity.

Bipartisanship vs. Upyoursianship

Republicans are pursuing a very narrow, but not necessarily unwise, strategy from a political point of view. Were Democrats ever going to give Repubs credit they could cash in on if they behaved in a bi-partisan manner? Hardly.

Did Dems promise Snowe, Collins, and Specter not to run candidates against them in return for their support of the stimulus? No.  Were Dems, who got close to dumping McConnell in 2008, going to promise him no opposition in Kentucky in 2014 if he made nice on the 2009 stimulus? No. 

Bipartisanship as Obama envisioned it benefits Obama politically at the expense of Republicans and Conservatives. Upyoursianship as the Republicans are practicing it gives them a fighting chance in future elections if the economy continues to tank under Obama and the Democratic majority.

I'm cool with it.  The Dems shoved Limbaugh down the Repubs throats for a whole week.  Nice to know they can bust knee caps when it gets down and dirty.

Change has come to Washington.  Democrats actually fought back.

As for whether the stimulus is going to work, who the heck knows? Might as well enjoy the trivial back biting.  I know I do. At least it's good theater.


I'm not sure I understand what you're suggesting the Dems should've offered in return for the support of the stimulus bill. Are you saying the Dems should have just stepped aside and not run in those districts? Is that something that's even done? I agree that Obama would probably have a lot more to gain. But on the other hand, if the Republicans would join him, and we do get out of this mess, in the next elections they'll be able to say that they've "worked in a bipartisan" fashion. Saying this kind of neutralized the Dems from saying "it was all us." 

No they should not have, of course.  But why should Repubs cooperate on an approach they largely disagree with?  For bipartisanship? Your point makes my argument. Did Dems get credit for being pro war in the early years when  voting for Bush's Iraq  war budgets? Nope. They voted for the Iraq allocations so they wouldn't be called unpatriotic. And they got called unpatriotic anyway.

Dems are going to get all credit or blame anyway these 2 years. Repubs are betting economic failure. Not a bad bet so far.

From a purely strategic point of view I see what you're saying and you're probably right. However, that does not help me have any warmer feelings about them. This "my way or the highway" strategy they seem to take is just not productive, and I feel most people at this point are looking for solutions and not necessarily who's right.

I don't like it either, but it neither shocks nor disappoints me.  It's the majority's job to look for solutions and the minority's job to figure out how to deal with what the majority does.

Let's face it, Democrats benefitted big time from the failure of the Iraq war. They never did anything particularly brilliant about the war. One day public approval of the war fell below 50% and, bingo, Democrats had credibility and electability...for doing next to nothing one way or the other.

The economy has at least as much of a chance of stalling out as the Iraq war effort. One day, Obama's approval numbers on the economy may drop below 50% and Repubs are back in business. 

I don't think any less of Repubs for operating this way than I did of Democrats who spent years groping around for an Iraq  strategy that they never really developed on their own.  They owe their success on Iraq to Bush and Rumsfeld.  The same is true of the Republicans on the economy, I suspect.



Are you saying the Dems should have just stepped aside and not run in those districts? Is that something that's even done?

That may have been standard fare for Democrats before 2006; candidates may have run, but they didn't really get the full support of the DNC because the poll numbers were consistently against them.


It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

He still shouldn't have signed Pelosi's version of the bill with all that pork in it. There were some good elements of that bill that were tarnished by its overall profligacy. The price was just too high and he really allowed Pelosi to railroad his original bill.

Pelosi needs to be stopped.

Saw this report today and thought it interesting:

According to Rasmussen: 68% of Republicans say there is no clear GOP leader.

I heard on NPR that the GOP "base" is now fewer in number than Independents, and wayyyy fewer than Democrats.  The Republicans need to take a good look at these numbers, and decide if they really think it is wise to embrace this strategy. 
Newt and Rush is now going at each other throats. I can't see Newt amerging once again as the leader of the Republican party. I am not sure about this claim, so I will ask you if Newt did  or did not cheat on his wife. If that was the case, I can't see how he could come on top, considering what they did to Bill clinton for haveing an affair on his wife. They already threw Jindal to the wolfs, and going to kick steele out. no matter who they choose to lead the GOP in that compasity is tainted. They threw Palin under the bus when she refused to show at the CPAC meeting with Rush/ann c.! Mccain is trying to reincert himself, but can't see that happeing either. So who does that leave Us? Lost, I would say!
Yeah, Newt is definitely angling for a prominent role, but he's one of the architects of the GOP's current woes. If no one remembers this or prefers to remember how he "gave Bill Clinton the smackdown", he just might get it. It seems that he's going to try to appeal to the more reasoned minds in the GOP by rejecting Rush's rhetoric.

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Tomgny, I don't think anyone benifited from the war! To be relivent as a party, you have to have a good leader with good idea's! Do you see any of those right now in the GOP party? Even if Obama's popularity falls, doesn't mean the GOP's popularity will grow. You also have to remember this mess was inherited by Obama and the Demacrates , and they won't let americans forget that none to soon! No matter how they pound away saying this recession is Obama's no one truely would or will believe that.

Well, for starters, I said that Democrats benefitted from the "failure" of the war, which is hardly the same thing as benefitting from the war.

And frankly we disagree on the Americans' short and long term memories with respect to a bad economy.  Alas, we may have a chance to test our respective theories in the days ahead.


"the GOP "base" is now fewer in number than Independents"

Only 27% of registered voters consider themselves republican and the consensus is that they have to be from"right wing" of the party...

Not good news at all.


 I will not throw the first punch but I wil certainly throw the last.....President Barack Obama.

The last news I read was that only 26% of Americans consider themselves "Republicans."

We got wiped out in last Fall's election and instead of trying to rebuild the party it just gets more bizarre.

1.  We have the new GOP chairman having to apologize to a radio entertainer for a mild rebuke.    

2.  My man Bobby Jindal gave a strange sounding rebuttal to the president's speech.

3.  Some are actually saying Newt Gingrich, a man who should be disgraced, is the best hope to save the party.

4.  Sarah Palin has an 85% approval rating among core Republicans?????????

5.  The hit at the latest gathering of conservatives was a 13 year old home schooled kid. 

This isn't a serious political party, this is turning into a carnival sideshow. I read today that the Republican Party is mainly appealing to less-educated white males in southern and mountainous regions i.e. me and Blakey.

Right now my only solace is that things never stay the same.  Life under total Democrat rule will likely turn unpleasant to most Americans at some point and voters will be looking again for change.  I only hope we still have a party at that point to offer them an alternative. 


Brandon, I can't believe I'm saying this, but you just expressed my sentiments exactly!!!

Do you ever wonder just how long you will be able to remain a part of this bizarre sideshow?  I do.......

Moderate Republicans actually have more options than conservatives like me.  You guys could just switch to being Democrats with the idea that it might be easier to move the Democrats to the center than the Republicans to the center.

But what is a conservative to do?  The modern Democratic Party is way TOO LIBERAL for me and I don't believe the business and media establishment will let a real third party come to power anytime soon.

All I can do is hope that the Republican freak show will end at some point and the party finds a way back from this nonsense. 


If Louisiana's primary system were different, I would probably become an Independent.  For now though, I'll stick with my R label, vote my conscience, and at least be able to use my primary vote to vote against the hard right R candidate.  It's not perfect, but at least it's a plan I can live with while we try to reclaim the party.  If everyone with a brain leaves, we are handing the party to the looney tunes!!


When I switched to Independent last week, I found out that I can, still, vote in the Congressional and Senatorial Primaries in Nebraska.  I simply need to request a Republican, or Democratic ballot on Primary Day.   However, I can't vote in the Presidential, or Gubernatorial Primaries.  Yes, my state confuses me too.      

I hope and pray that the party turns the ship and heads back in the direction it needs to head.  I'll probably never label myself a Republican again, but I'll always check for reasoned debate from both sides. 

I am thrilled when a rational, intelligent Rep and a rational, intelligent Dem discuss issues.  I hope that the yelling and screaming of today's "journalism" (I use the term lightly) isn't indicative of how politics works behind Congressional doors.  I'd like to think that it's the smart people having smart discussions, but I don't hold my breath. 

Thanks for the great posts, Brandon. Well said.


Thats what I'm talking about a less educated white mountain man here. Animated Hunter Hunting With A RiflePink Bunny Rabbit
Every day it gets worse out there with republicans! We had Rush/ann Colter as our main speaker at CPAC, an the craziness with with steele is just irratateing. Tom I truely believe we will see what steele,Jindal,Rush and others said in the upcomeing elections in 2010 and 2012. Much like a rewind over an over again. This sideshow as Suzi puts it so alligantly will not be so easy to forget sense it will appear on instant replay. Also I'm interested on knowing if you have seen any republicans tom that might be a promiseing leader for us in the future? If you have I would like to hear it, an debate it here if we could.

I don't see anyone yet emerging out of the first phase of Obama's presidency.   It is still his show as it ought to be, and there is nothing yet for any Republican to seize on until Obama has problems that are convincingly of his own making. Then maybe somebody will step in...but now there is nothing to step into but political cow pies -- as, in fact, some leading party figures have managed to do.

At some point the far right wing of the party is going to have to let up enough on its "core principles" (and its anger, anger, anger) to get some of the center back into the camp. George Will is pushing Republicans to, basically, STFU on bashing gays and lesbians  because the generation under 30 simply doesn't care one way or the other.  Michael Steele -- for the ten minutes that he had any credibility as chair -- was cautioning Republicans to stop being COMPLETLY  stupid on immigration, having managed to turn the Hispanic/Latino vote from a winner to a loser for the party in the last four years.

Always up for a debate but, for now, we don't have any cards to play and no real players.  But it may well come in time.

How about moderates reclaiming the honorable title of Republican, and giving the wingnuts the term "Rushlicans"?
The art of the insult is to get the insultee to grin and agree while everyone else snickers (and educated Brits are really good at this).

The trick is to do this within 5 or 6 words... "Limbaugh's Majority"? "Ditto-head Caucus"? "Ultimate Right-Wing"?


It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

So chance your from my home state of Nebraska? I live down in Alma,Ne. alomost on top of the Kansas boarder. We had a good caucus here, and almost split down the middle with Clinton, Obama votes! My girl friend told me I had to go Demacrate to vote the way I planed to. So I went Demacrate listing for the first time in my life. Were all confused here in Neb. over the laws of voteing. It's as bad as doing your tax's, and just as confuseing.

So chance your from my home state of Nebraska? I live down in Alma,Ne. 

I am indeed from Nebraska, jupitor.  I've been to Alma back in 2000 to visit the Harlan County Reservoir when I was helping my grandparents plan a family reunion.  My aunt and uncle live near you in Curtis.  I didn't participate in the Caucas last year, because I wasn't for Obama at that point.  Plus, I didn't want to change parties at that point in time.    

I did caucus for the first time an enjoyed it. Everyone was surprised we had this many Demacrates in the county. but some of us was republicans who already had jumped ship, as we called it. Sense 2000 Harlen co. reservoir has come up from a drought, and is absolutley beautiful. Tourist are back, and it's cheap camping an good fishing down here now. It's a cheap vacation now gas went down again. The water is right up to the town of Alma again as it was in the 90's. You have a good day, chance and maybe we can talk about the troubles of neb. economy one of these days.

People are just plan mad about the economy and the fact that they have lost jobs, the value of their investments, their homes, yada, yada, yada..... I'm not being blase',.... no, I'm speaking from real, personal experience.  Whenever there's a problem, you'll always see the part of the crowd who has to complain, whine, moan - kind of like needy, buzzing nats that you just can't ever seem to get rid of in a hot, amazon humid climate.  

Whenever a Republican president is elected, anything that goes wrong in this country, whether it be political, economical, whatever in nature - it MUST be the fault of the Democratic Party.... AND vice versa.

And these "Tea Parties"... I mean, gimme a freakin' break!  OK, we have the right to free speech.  We all have been "T"axed "E"nough "A"lready.  What does re-enacting a "Tea Party" get us - hmm - say - NO WHERE!  Face it - TAXES ARE NOT GOING AWAY - THEY ARE NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER GOING TO GO AWAY, no matter how much tea we dump!!!!  And, those who were ever so willing and eager participants at these curious events, are you even going to fall into the annual $$ income bracket that would be affected by Obama's plan?  

What's the alternative....?  Another 8 years (like 2001-2008)....  I don't know about you, but I think I would like my life to start moving on again, rather than being "on hold" or "in the middle of nowhere" (kind of the way the movie "W." ended!!!).

Thanks... Gene 

Hi Gene, and welcome to RFO.  I hope you will be back to share more of your thoughts with us.  I too am ready to move on....

Good post. Welcome to RFO. I think most of us feel the way you do and even those who disagree with some parts understand how the party is very lost right now. This place is made up of I would say mostly moderates of both parties, but there are a few dems, independents, and several people stuck in the middle for now. I'm not a republican but we need the sane opposition to go against some of the idiots that make up the democrats too. For now the wackos of the GOP are drowning out and outnumbering everyone else. Not good for the country or politics in general. I hope you come back and share your opinion more...

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