Watchdog Blog

Carolyn Lewis: The Ones Who Lost

Posted at 1:22 pm, February 7th, 2009
Carolyn Lewis Mug

No wonder President Obama is showing signs of frustration. He’s tried everything – kindness, cookies, sweet reason – and the Republicans, the ones who lost the last election, refuse to play the game. They refuse even to acknowledge that the game, courtesy of a majority of the voters and the economic crisis, has changed at all.

So what to do? Bend a little here and there, as necessary to ensnare the handful of GOP Senators needed to pass the stimulus bill. But at the same time recognize that most of the opposition is incorrigible. Beyond reason. Beyond even good sense.

As Mark Slouka notes in a fine essay in this month’s Harper’s magazine, the voters who sent these chaps to Washington on the whole represent the great irrational, ill-educated folks who “given the almost embarrassing superiority of the winning ticket and the parade of catastrophes visited on the nation by the outgoing party” still managed to marshal a “relatively close” popular vote.

“Here’s the mirror – look and wince,” he writes. “One out of every four of us believes we’ve been reincarnated; 44 percent of us believe in ghosts; 71 percent in angels.”Forty percent of Americans are functionally illiterate. “Wherever it may have resided before, the brain in Americans has migrated to the region of the belt” Increasingly it’s where politics is done, mindlessly, ignorantly, through the gut. Gut-thinking is valued over expertise. Logic, argument, thoughfulness are dismissed as “elite.”

Consequently we have in Congress representatives who reflect this hard reality. . Most of them know little if anything about economics or the history of market failures, yet they will rant about legislation most economists agree is needed to rescue the nation from a deep depression. They don’t care if we all go down the rabbit hole. Rush Limbaugh represents their mindset: they want the Obama administration to fail.

In Washington, it’s called playing politics. But with millions out of work, losing pensions and houses and healthcare, it’s hardly a time for playing. Maybe it’s not too soon for the President to use some of Lyndon Johnson’s tactics, twist a few arms, make a few threats where necessary, bully the bastards for the sake of getting the work done. It may not work, either, but it’s worth a try.

3 Responses to “The Ones Who Lost”

  1. Kevin B. O'Reilly says:

    Wow. This post is utterly useless. In addition to saying nothing relevant about journalism — the purported subject of this Web site and blog — Ms. Lewis seems to misunderstand the role of the Congress, or of the minority party in Congress. It is *not* to blindly endorse whatever the president proposes.

  2. Thomas says:

    I’ve done a fair amount of reading, and professional economists–experts, if you will–haven’t expressed anything like a consensus in favor of the stimulus bill. Ms Lewis shows no evidence that she’s familiar with their arguments, much less that she’s grappled with them. Logic, argument, thoughtfulness–those are labels she applies to people who agree with her. Those guys teaching macroeconomics at Harvard and Chicago–what do they know?

  3. stephen namkoong says:

    I’m no fan of the current stimulus package, nor am I convinced that President Obama is steering us in the right direction, but judging by the three posts above, I’d say Carolyn Lewis hit the nail on the head. If these comments are any indication of the state of our affairs (which I hope is not the case), the minority party, the doubting Thomas, the ill-informed, and the religious wing always seem to prioritize their own self-serving interests over the nation’s. Perception or reality?

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