Last week, I appeared on Fox News to discuss the inflammatory comments by Phil Gramm (John McCain's top economic advisor) and how those comments really epitomize the Republican Party's country clubbish, let-them-eat-cake outlook on the economy. Notice about half-way through as the Republican strategist I'm debating actually acknowledges that McCain's major idea for fixing the economy is continuing George W. Bush's tax policies -- and that when she's called out for saying that, she tries to deny what she just said:
The interchange is instructive for two reasons.
First and foremost is the admission: namely, that Republicans still want America to believe that the way to steady the economy is to follow Bush's efforts to slash taxes for millionaires. As I show in the very first chapter of my book, this is a prescription being rejected even in some of the most conservative parts of the country.
Second, there is the denial: When called onto the carpet for wanting to continue the policies of the most unpopular president in history, Republicans start running for cover to the point of claiming they never said what they just said. The denial is a tacit acknowledgment of the power of the populist uprising now boiling throughout the country. The GOP knows the country is very angry at conservatives' free market fundamentalism -- and so will deny and obfuscate to pretend they aren't championing such fundamentalism.
Of course, moments after appearing on Fox, my email in-box was filled with hate mail from conservative viewers. For instance, Dave in Bokeelia, Florida told me "Gramm was abolutely correct" in blaming Americans for the economic downturn, then asked, "Why don't you get and your boyfriend move to Denmark or some other socialist country?" (apparently, he's not aware I'm happily married to my wife, Emily). Then he declared, "Obama has already lost, you moron."
A guy named Charles angrily asked, "When did raising taxes ever stimulate economic growth?" then said "raising taxes will only cause a deeper recession," and added "Do your homework before berating someone on television." Apparently, he forgot that our most recent economic boom during the 1990s came immediately after President Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy.
My favorite was from a guy named Steve who wrote, "hey girlyboy, do you have any idea how pitiful you look to normal folks when you open your sissy moth beging the government to help?" (that is his spelling -- for real).
These comments show how powerful conservative propaganda has been - it has convinced a number (albeit a dwindling one, according to polling data) of people to believe that the real problem in our country is that we have too few royalists running the government - not too many. Though this conservative ideology is clearly on the ropes, the Fox News clip shows that the GOP is going to continue trying to ram it down our throats.