A friend was explaining to me the easy thing Republicans in Congress had to do to guarantee they'd win the 2012 elections. "If they simply focus on jobs," he said, "if they just pass a jobs bill, then Democrats will be in a lot of trouble."
It was an excellent point. Except for one huge flaw with his scenario:
Republicans in Congress don't care about jobs. They not only don't care, they don't want to see the job situation improve. After all, if unemployment drops, credit rises to the president, Barack Obama. Not only don't Republicans in Congress want to see jobs improve, it's the very last thing they want.
This isn't some random theory, but an observation of reality. If Republicans in Congress actually cared about jobs, they wouldn't have spent the past two years campaigning against the jobs stimulus bill. If they actually cared about creating jobs, they wouldn't have blocked the president's proposal to unfreeze credit to struggling small businesses. They wouldn't have voted near-unanimously against the president's aid bill to the states, designed to save 140,000 teaching jobs. If Republicans in Congress actually cared about unemployment, they wouldn't have voted against extending unemployment benefits.
To be clear, many people can articulately defend these Republican actions. The one thing they can't do, though, is defend them and also claim that they care about creating jobs.
Further, it's not that Republicans in Congress don't care about jobs -- it's that they only care about accomplishing three things: lowering taxes for the wealthiest 2% of the country, getting rid of Social Security and Medicare, and gutting health care and Wall Street banking reform.
When I explained this to my friend, something ruminated in the back of my mind. I'll get to that in a moment.
In the meantime, though, I got into another conversation with a different friend, this one on Saturday. I had been describing an email exchange with someone whose fury at All Things Liberal is so over-the-top outraged that even he describes it as "insane and irrational." He periodically passes along vitriolic articles he receives from his far-right circle that stir up red-hot, sputtering wrath at the White House.
After describing these emails, my friend commented, "I am truly shocked by the visceral hatred of President Obama." (This wasn't a reaction to there being hatred, that's politics, but rather the convulsive, feverish depth of it.)
I'm sure that psychologists are having a field day explaining the reasons. Honestly, I don't believe for a second that the far-right hatred of President Obama is actually a hatred of President Obama. The intensity doesn't match the facts. It's so many other things all ratcheted up by a long-existent, right-wing, hate-and-fear-building machine that churns out an end-product, "Must HATE Obama." A hate-and-fear-building machine that dates back to painting Bill Clinton as a murderer, his wife a lesbian, through creating a "Terror Alert" to keep Americans petrified, to warning that the next smoking gun could be a "mushroom cloud," onto portraying the Democratic presidential candidate as a foreign-born black Muslim who pals around with terrorists while making terrorist fist-bumps with his wife who hates America.
After a decade of this, and more, how could fear and hatred not finally ooze out of the pores of those anxious to be frightened, looking for an excuse to blame for troubles in their own lives? Shaken at losing power at the White House. Disoriented at having a White House that for the first time wasn't white.
And after explaining this to my friend, that same something as before once again ruminated in my mind.
It is something that has, in fact, been there for several years.
What keeps returning is a memorable speech written by Aaron Sorkin in his movie, The American President. It comes when President Andrew Shepard has finally heard enough hate-filled demagoguery from his opponent and finally breaks his silence. The long speech is eloquent, but what stands out is one passage, words that today have become eerily recognizable.
"And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections."
The Republican Party of many years, dating back to Joseph McCarthy, but turned into high gear the last decade, has been Bob Rumson.
They don't care about your problems. They don't care about jobs. They care only about terrifying you and pointing fingers of blame at the scary liberals and frightening black man.
And to return this full circle, it is because of that that Republicans stand on the precipice of being crushed in 2012. Because, once again, It's the Economy, Stupid. It's Jobs, Stupid. And Republicans in Congress won't do anything about any of that because if the economy improves, if unemployment lessens, it's bad for them. And they caused the problem in the first place. But more to the point, Republicans in Congress won't do anything about any of that because -- in the end -- They...Don't...Care.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how, in 2012, you lose elections.