As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

There's No Way To Make "I Hope He Fails" Sound Good

Mike Pence is trying his best, but it's just not possible.

SANCHEZ: Did you hear what Rush Limbaugh said, “the dirty little secret is all Republicans want Barack Obama to fail?” Very direct question to you, Sir. Do you want Barack Obama to fail?

PENCE: Come on, Rick. Nice try. I know what Rush Limbaugh meant. … Everyone like me, Rush Limbaugh and others who believe in limited government, who believes in conservative values, wants the policies that this administration is bringing forward, higher taxes, massive increase in government spending, a huge increase in the role of government, in our daily lives, 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, DC is a policy that will fail.

The leader of the Republican Party himself, in an email exchange with Greg Sargent, couldn't say that a successful economic recovery would be good for the country.

I asked:

I understand that you don’t think Obama’s policies are destined to succeed. Reasonable people can disagree about that. However, putting aside the question of what the policies are destined to do, is it true that if they succeed in their stated goal of righting the economy — however far-fetched that may be to you and others — then would that be good for the country?

Or, alternatively put, putting aside the question of what the policies are in your view destined to do, is it true that if they fail in their stated goal of righting the economy, won’t the country suffer further as a result?

Rush answered:

I reject your premise, especially since you are rejecting my answers. I will not put aside the question of what the policies are destined to do because that IS THE POINT.

This is actually better than the "I hope he fails" terminology, but not by much. The idea conservatives are trying to say is that they feel Obama's policies would move the country in the wrong direction. It's laughable given the direction we're in as a result of the last Republican President's policies, but it's at least an argument. But with the initial phrasing on the table, it's impossible for them to wind themselves out of this mess. They can't divorce themselves from almighty Rushbo, so they have to say "yes, I hope he fails" and then fill in the blanks with an alternative language where hoping the President fails doesn't mean that they hope the country goes into ruin.

It seems to me that conservatives are guilty of what they accused Democrats of doing for many years - wanting the war in Iraq to fail, wanting the economy to fail, etc. But of course, Democrats never put it in those terms. They argued that Bush's policies wouldn't succeed, and they were RIGHT. That's a far different construction.

Some on the progressive side like Peter Daou doesn't think that elevating Rush Limbaugh makes a lot of sense. I don't think Democrats have a lot of power in this equation. Rush is perfectly capable of elevating himself within the Republican ranks - the Big Money Boyz are offering Michael Steele a fat cup of STFU on the issue. The point is that Rush is entirely unpopular with the vast majority of the country, who don't listen to his show. Limbaugh cost the Republicans the US Senate in 2006 when his Michael J. Fox bashing elevated Claire McCaskill. It's a proven strategy, and Republicans talking about Limbaugh means they're not talking about anything appealing to the country at large. I fully agree that Obama and the Democrats will be assessed on whether or not they can bring the country out of this economic death spiral; we're always judged on cleaning up the mess, they're never judged on making it. But there's no reason that Republicans shouldn't have to run in circles and be forced to reconcile the hateful extremism of their de facto leader in the meantime. "I hope he fails" is a great tombstone for these guys.

...This is both amusing and useful. It's an automatic Limbaugh apology generator! Give to the conservative politician who criticizes Limbaugh only to have to retract it in your family.

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