The political gods have been good to Democrats lately.
Republicans nominated several absolute loons to run for Congress; they painted themselves as protectors and apologists of BP; and in the course of punishing the unemployed, they seriously upset both doctors and governors.
These are weapons that liberal lions like LBJ would have swung to great advantage. LBJ knew how to get Republican votes, but he was unencumbered by any urge to validate Republican talking points.
Now, not so much. Nobody could imagine President Obama pushing around a senator the way LBJ bullied Sen. Theodore F. Green in a famous series of photographs, or backhanding Republicans like FDR did in 1936, when he said, "They are unanimous in their hate for me--and I welcome their hatred."
Truth be told, many Americans are in the mood for a speech like that. They'd welcome a declaration of war against a Republican Party that resorts to twisted half-facts and outright lies; half-facts and lies they've grown so fond of that they actually believe that...what's the word...Garbage.
To be fair to the President, he was born in 1961, came of age during the Reagan Administration, and, while he's an intelligent, educated, and well-read man, probably takes for granted an organized, well-financed right wing that needs to be accommodated.
He's just too young to remember when both parties lived on the same planet, were friends after business hours, and were even -- when the stars were right -- willing to put country above party.
Thing is, that's what it's going to take to solve the enormous problems that George W. Bush and the Republicans left behind in the Oval office -- a willingness to abandon the rancid partisanship that people the President's age and younger think is business as usual, but that the American people are sick of.
The paradox here is that probably the only way to do that is to utterly defeat the right wing, which, whether they like it or not, has been the source of so much of that angry, bitter rhetoric. Then Democrats can re-claim their rightful, historic place -- the political center.
The good news here is that the right wing is doing a wonderful job of destroying itself. Not only did it invent a phony grass roots "rebellion" called the Tea Party and use it to drive Republicans even farther to the right; it threw up extremists like Rand Paul in Kentucky, and Sharron Angle in Nevada. Angle is so extreme she's threatening armed revolution.
But if the right wing seems bent on meeting its Maker, it's the responsibility of Democrats to arrange the meeting. And to do that they have to bring their internal divisions under control.
The party's left wing, especially, needs to forget about being proud of not belonging to any organized political party because they're Democrats. They smell blood and want blood, and considering the 30-year beating the right gave them for urging civilized government, they deserve blood.
Progressives are so angry at the right that they'd happily send a few tank divisions to take out the Club for Growth. At a minimum, I can think of plenty of progressives who'd like to tar and feather the GOP leadership.
Like Bill Clinton used to say, I feel your pain. But I have a better idea: Win in November. Win big. Beat the right wing like a drum, and win the American people peace from lies, threats, and, especially, from supply-side economics.
And do this with the right wing's own ideas. Ridicule those ideas and show the country what they really are--empty as an old tin can, based on no facts, and leading in only one direction--disaster.
And to do this Democrats don't have to drone on about economic theory; All they have to do is hammer away at the fact that it was Republicans who drove up the national debt and created today's huge deficits.
And bring up 1937.
That was the year Republicans forced FDR to raise taxes, cut government spending, and balance the budget, just like they want to do today. The result? Disaster. Industrial production collapsed, unemployment soared, and a recovering economy went into a tailspin. It took world rearmament in the run-up to World War II to pull us out of that one.
Since there's no reason to believe anything else would happen this time, and since it's almost impossible to believe the GOP leadership doesn't know the economic history, we're left to conclude they don't care -- that they believe screaming for debt reduction is a winning issue, and that they can blame the disaster that follows on the Democrats.
In other words, make it clear that in the midst of a terrible recession they caused, Republicans are putting party over country and hoping to change the topic when people start asking questions, just like they started yelling "socialism" the minute Obama walked into the Oval.
This is nothing they should be allowed to get away with; but luckily, the facts are against them. All Democrats need do is use them, bring up Republicans' voting records during the Bush years, and remind voters that Republicans suddenly finding fiscal religion are cold-blooded hypocrites.
And one more thing. Democrats of all stripes -- most Americans, really -- are hungry to believe. And they want to feel the country is moving. It was that hunger, and President Obama's superb skills at the podium, that got him elected.
But lately, all we're getting is measured, reasonable speeches. My impression is the West Wing is trying to tamp down opposition by not sounding too strident. But that isn't what the country wants; it wants the sort of speech that FDR gave in Madison Square Garden those many years ago. Barack Obama can give speeches like that. Speeches like that elected him. He should give FDR's speech a listen.
And so, dear reader, should you.