28 December, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Celebrity Death Match time! And what better way to play than to pit two dead presidents against each other?

What an odd poll from Rasmussen.

It's a showdown between the two most influential presidents of the 20th Century. Franklin D. Roosevelt versus Ronald W. Reagan.

Forty-five percent (45%) of U.S. voters say FDR, the Democratic father of the big government New Deal who led the country to victory in World War II, was the better president of the two.

But 40% say Reagan, the Republican champion of small-government conservatism and the winner of the Cold War, was a better president. Fifteen percent (15%) aren't sure which of the two they like better in a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

As befits the times, there's a gender gap -- men narrowly preferred Reagan, while women overwhelmingly preferred FDR. Whites were split, while African-American voters backed FDR by more than a two-to-one margin. Dems, liberals, the unmarried, and those who attend worship services less often went with Roosevelt, while Republicans, conservatives, married voters, and evangelicals supported Reagan.

I can appreciate the fact that fawning, sycophantic, and generally embarrassing conservative cheerleading has helped bolster Reagan's image in the wake of his presidency. I also realize that Reagan, more than any modern leader, is the only GOP figure who's claimed by every wing of the Republican Party as their own -- from New England moderates to Deep South far-right conservatives.

But up against FDR, how is this even a contest?

How, indeed. Steve mentions a variety of embarrassments from the Reagan presidency, and Crooks and Liars details some of the "benefits" of Reaganomics:

I, too, have fond memories of Reaganomics. Why, until Reagan waved his magic wand, our unemployment checks weren't even taxed! I was absolutely thrilled to be able to make that sacrifice to fund tax cuts for the wealthy:

Another Reagan proposal that came in for criticism was the plan to tax all unemployment compensation.

[...] "What he's doing is taxing something to a person who is under a rough time to begin with," noted Herbert Paul, a New York tax lawyer. "But you don't seem to have a strong lobby group to push to eliminate that, so I think it may well stick."

And stick it did. Why, thanks to Reagan's Tax Reform Act of 1986, I only recently finished paying the taxes (and interest) due on unemployment income from 2001 - and here I am, unemployed again, thanks to yet another Republican-sponsored economic crash.

But I digress. The fact is, facts simply aren't relevant to Republicans, since their economic views and objects of veneration are more appropriate to a religious cult than intellectual rigor. (You might want to get Will Bunch's new book for a look at this phenomena - and why it's so important.)

Cute how the Cons can snow authoritarian types into believing that the man who raped them economically was actually a great president. Sadly for them, their influence is on the wane:

David Broder highlights an increasingly obvious political reality about the regional power of the Republican Party.


The Southern domination of the congressional Republican Party has become more complete with each and every election. This year, Republicans suffered a net loss of two Senate and three House seats in the South, but they lost five Senate seats and 18 House seats in other sections. No Republican House members are left in New England, and they have become ever scarcer in New York and Pennsylvania and across the Midwest.
Kinda hard to be a national party when most of the nation wants nothing to do with you, innit?

And poor Dick Cheney has no idea why he and his party are reviled:

Only 29 percent of Americans approve of the job Dick Cheney is doing as Vice President. In an interview with his hometown Wyoming newspaper, The Caspar Star-Tribune, Cheney expressed his bewilderment over his low approval numbers:

QUESTION: How do you explain your low approval rating?

CHENEY: I don’t have any idea. I don’t follow the polls.

Perhaps we can clue him in:
In addition to his well-documented abuse of power and disregard for the rule of law, Cheney’s public disapproval ratings might be explained in part by his own personal disregard for the public. When told that two-thirds of Americans disapproved of the Iraq war, Cheney responded “so?,” adding that he didn’t care what the American people thought.

That might have a little something to do with it, yes.

Condi's just as clueless:
This morning on CBS, Sunday Morning’s Rita Braver interviewed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In a portion of the interview that does not appear to have aired, Braver noted the results of the recent Pew Global Attitudes survey which found that “the U.S. image abroad is suffering almost everywhere.” Braver prompted Rice saying, “It has to be more than just a perception problem.” Rice dismissed the poll’s results, claiming that the Bush administration has “left a lot of good foundations”:

Q: Looking at the big picture of what’s the whole foreign policy of this Administration – you come out of the academic tradition so I think it’s fair to ask, what kind of grade do you give yourself and this Administration on foreign policy?

RICE: Oh, I don’t know. It depends on the subject. I’m sure that there are some that deserve an A-plus and some that deserve a lot less. … We’ve left a lot of good foundations.

Q: You know, you say that, but the Pew Global Attitudes Project released a new report very recently. On the very first page it says, “The U.S. image abroad is suffering almost everywhere.” … It has to be more than just a perception problem.

RICE: No. Rita, first of all, it depends on where you’re talking about. In two of the most populous countries, China and India, the United States is not just well regarded for its policies, but well regarded.

When pressed further, Rice responded by saying, “It’s not a popularity contest.”

There's this thing about governing, Condi. It's not a popularity contest, no, but a) in a democracy, there's this little "will of the people" thing to contend with because, well, it's government "of the people, for the people, by the people," and b) if the world hates you, good fucking luck getting anything done in it. Just sayin'.

Funny how Cons never seem to learn that.

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