Ted Frier

Ted Frier
April 02
Ted Frier is an author and former political reporter turned speechwriter who at one time served as communications director for the Massachusetts Republican Party, helping Bill Weld become the first Bay State Republican in a generation to be elected Governor. He was Chief Speechwriter for Republican Governor Paul Cellucci and Lt. Governor Jane Swift. Ted is also the author of the hardly-read 1992 history "Time for a Change: The Return of the Republican Party in Massachusetts." So, why the current hostility to the Republican Party and what passes for conservatism today? The Republican Party was once a national governing party that looked out for the interests of the nation as a whole. Now it is the wholly-owned subsidiary of self interest. Conservatism once sought national unity to promote social peace and harmony. Now conservatism has devolved into a right wing mutation that uses divide and conquer tactics to promote the solidarity of certain social sub-groups united against the larger society while preserving the privileges of a few.


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JUNE 5, 2012 2:41PM

Republicans deliberately sabotaging economy? Duh!

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Raise your hands if you think Republicans are deliberately sabotaging the US economy to prevent the re-election of Barack Obama. Me too. Okay, knowing what you do about the Republican Party, raise your hands if you can think of any reason why Republicans wouldn't throw a monkey wrench into the machinery of our economic engine to accomplish Mitch McConnell's stated goal of making Barack Obama a one-term president. Me neither.

I wouldn't have said this earlier, but I have no doubt now that Republicans are deliberately making the economy worse for political gain. I'm trying to picture a Republican consultant advising his clients against such a move on grounds of, say patriotism and propriety, and I just can't. Probably because they would be out of a job. It's amazing what people can convince themselves it is okay to do once they've convinced themselves they are in the right.

The filibustering of every conventional and sensible proposal the Obama Administration has put forward to help stimulate the economy -- up to and including tax cuts that were Republican ideas to begin with -- was only our first clue that Republicans were rooting for America to fail.

But neither does it take a genius to imagine the phone calls being made by Mitt Romney's henchmen or the candidate himself (properly filtered, of course, to provide maximum deniability) to all of those bankers and business types sitting on their $2 trillion in uninvested cash that, if they want access to a future Romney Administration, they'd better keep sitting on that cash until after the November election. Think of this strategy as just an extension of the Republican Party's K Street Project, the one where America's trade associations and lobbyists were informed by partisan mob enforcers like disgraced Majority Leader Tom DeLay that doing business with the new Republican House was on a strictly pay to play basis.

But what I am also sure about is that Greg Sargent of the Washington Post is certainly correct when he says the establishment media will never let Democrats get away with accusing Republicans of deliberately doing harm the country because the establishment media has far too much to lose from allowing such a suggestion to take root.

As an elite establishment itself, whose place and privileges in American politics comes from its having mastered the rituals of our two-party system, the mainstream media is threatened by anyone who challenges the comfortable status quo of two evenly-balanced, sane and sensible, political parties. The media sees its own interests as neutral observer and referee threatened when people begin opening up that Pandora's Box which exposes one of those major parties to be exactly what congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein said about the GOP, that it: "has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

It's been more than a month since Mann and Ornstein dropped that bombshell in the pages of the Washington Post and there is still no discussion of its ominous implications on the Sunday political talk shows, says Sargent.  Indeed, for their troubles as pundits too hot to handle, Mann and Ornstein have been effectively blackballed from Meet the Press, Face the Nation, and State of the Union.

Most of the time the media loves to talk about itself, says Sargent, so you'd think Mann and Ornstein's allegation that "the press's addiction to fake even-handedness has led them not to acknowledge, or at least grapple with, a fact that is absolutely central to understanding what's happening with our politics right now," would have Sunday show producers burning up the phone lines trying to book the duo on their shows.

"But what continues to strike me is the radio silence on these shows about both these themes," Ornstein told Sargent. "The Republicans bear a lot of the onus for rank obstructionism. But there's a false equivalence here, and the press corps has been AWOL in its duty to report the truth."

Ornstein said that judging by the communication he's had with elite reporters, his description of the GOP as a radical party "has generated lots of discussion in the newsrooms. But the shows are making a conscious decision to ignore it."

So, despite all you hear about the so-called "liberal bias" against Republicans, you can see why the mainstream media is predisposed to shoot down the idea that Republicans might be secretly planting Comp-4 explosive around our economy's foundation in order to detonate it while Barack Obama and the Democrats are the ones likely to suffer the collateral damage.

Which is why it's good to see Democrats making the charge anyway.

As Sargent reports, Harry Reid called out Republicans on the Senate floor the other day for their opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act, saying that from the GOP perspective the act to help ensure women get equal pay for equal work already has two strikes against it because "it would be good for women and good for the economy."

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said on Face the Nation this weekend in regard to the disappointing May jobs reports and Republican efforts to obstruct Obama's job creation policies that: "Instead of high-fiving each other on days when there is bad news, they should stop sitting on their hands and work on some of these answers."

And on Friday after the bad jobs numbers were released, Democratic National Committee executive director Patrick Gaspard went on MSNBC to accuse Republicans of "cheerleading for failure," notes Sargent

"There was a time when charges like these were approached with a bit more caution by Democratic leaders," says Sargent. "Now top Obama and Dem officials are going out into every conceivable forum and repeating the claim that Republicans are actively rooting for widespread economic misery and are doing all they can to block solutions designed to alleviate it."

Paul Krugman says Obama has no choice but to make Republicans the issue and to note we'd all be better off were it not for deliberate GOP sabotage. Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly is not so sure. He thinks swing voters will always hold the President and his party accountable for the state of the economy no matter how much the other guys are gumming up the works.

And even those of us who think Democrats need to call out Republicans for their obstruction have to admit that, despite everything Republicans have done to make the jobs situation worse, the Republican counterattack against charges they are sabotaging the economy practically writes itself: "Stop whining, Mr. President, and lead."

Nevertheless, while there are many things I thought the GOP capable of doing, deliberately standing in the way of America's economic recovery with all of the hardship and misery it would entail for millions of their fellow citizens, wasn't one of them. That was actually one of the few outrages I was not willing to impute to these radical Republicans in their heedless pursuit of power.  

But even that low ceiling above my scorn and contempt for the modern GOP was shattered by last summer's debt-ceiling debacle when Republicans showed just how far they were willing to go to achieve their narrow ideological ends.

The subsequent credit rating downgrade that, for good measure, Republicans even blamed on Democrats for not parleying in good faith, was an abject lesson in how quickly and easily even responsible Republican opinion can be herded into line by today's conservative movement. Within a matter of a few short weeks, the initial indignation among sensible conservatives at the suggestion by House Republicans that the full faith and credit of the United States should be put on the table as a bargaining chip to bully Democrats into caving on spending, was converted into accepted conventional wisdom on the right.

Compared to the game of debt-ceiling chicken that threatened what the White House called "economic Armageddon," what's not to believe about Republicans intentionally keeping the economy in the doldrums for another six months if the reward at the end is absolute political power?  

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More sophistry, Baltimore, and willful ignorance about the way the world really works when an ideologically committed wrecking crew is allowed to operate in a rickety 200 year old constitutional system that gives a minority extraordinary leverage against the majority because it is based on the presumption that parties will eventually work together because it is in their interest to. But what if that is not true -- at least for one of our parties that has become a revolutionary outlier -- and has no interest at all of working with the other side.

I'll tell you how Republicans think: Make it virtually impossible for Democrats to engage in the normal pump-priming stimulus the economic circumstances require so that the situation deteriorates for millions of Americans. If Democrats object, accuse Democrats of being whiners playing the blame game but not leading. Then, when the situation does deteriorate, use economic failure as a pretext to try anything -- anything -- different, including adoption of exactly the same radical right wing tax and spending cut policies that got us into this mess in the first place but which Republicans are counting the American people to go for in their desperation to escape the crisis Republicans have created for us.
I wouldn't expect the average citizen to look into these things as thoroughly and deeply as someone like yourself does. That said, it is truly sad that most voters aren't really paying any attention at all to what is happening, how it's happening, who is doing what to whom and why.

This lack of attention on the part of the electorate makes every election an opportunity for disaster. It also scares the sh**t out of those who are up on what's going on.

I'm certainly not going to defend the mainstream media, but I did catch Ornstein -- a true conservative -- discussing his book and the Republican Party aka the New American Independent Party --with Eliot Spitzer on Current TV and on The Daily Show with John Stewart. It's hard out there for a true conservative to see the Party of Eisenhower become more and more the Party of Eichmann, to be as it were a member of a clan without a country.

I don't know what constitutes the mainstream media anymore, but the fact that The Daily Show is the most honest news program on television suggests that we've met and exceeded the far from lofty expectations of the movie "Network".

And the fact that outrageous lies are routinely coughed-up -- and not just on a propaganda arm like Fux News -- and that those lies go unchallenged by corporate "journalists", suggests we are headed for something far worse -- Thirtie's Germany.

Isn't it funny how history repeats itself. Back in the middle ages it used to be that only the Court Jester could speak truth to power because they it was done with humor which could always be dismissed as satire not commentary. Stewart is the modern day Court Jester, who speaks the truth and is funny.
But Obama's budget was rejected by an overwhelming number of Democrats as well as Republicans. However, I do agree with your major premise that the Republicans want the economy to fail for their own political gain. Not only the economy, but world peace too...see my post 'Israel, The US, And the Conservatives' Mistress Plan.'
kinda agree with some of your analysis but not other parts. the problem is that our govt has been bicameral for centuries. if one entire party is messed up [with hundreds of members considering house+senate combined], it basically is not merely an indictment of that party, but of our basic democratic system as currently dysfunctional. now, I happen to agree with this somewhat. and am in favor of a 3rd party. but the public just cant seem to think out of the box, which it equates with stepping on the 3rd rail so to speak.
the other basic flaw with this analysis is that it somehow assumes or asserts that voters are kind of dumb and that even though the republicans are sabotaging the works behind the scenes, the voters cannot actually detect this, and that the voters will actually reward intransigence/[sabotage?] at worst and inaction at best. now I do have some agreement with this but again its a sort of fundamentally "inside baseball" argument. you just cant imagine that a significant block of voters agree with the republican strategy .. but maybe that is exactly the case, dude.
actually, this ties in with arguments that republican voters tend to vote against their own actual rational interests. counterintuitive, but dems have to focus on this to understand the phenomenon. its apparently quite real. dems have to get inside the mind of the enemy so to speak, not the mind of the choir.
It wouldn't be the first time that the Repubs have behaved treasonously Ted. In 1980 wasn't Reagan back-channeling with Iran to delay the release of the hostages until after the election? And it sure wouldn't surprise me a bit to know that some potential big spenders are holding back to help Romney, with the encouragement of the back room black art alchemists.

I wouldn't say voters are stupid, just unsophisticated and so vulnerable to cunning manipulation. Way back in 1922, journalist/philosopher Walter Lippmann wrote a book called Public Opinion to explain why it was so easy for him as a progagandist hired by Woodrow Wilson to bamboozle the American public into supporting going into World War I. His conclusion was that democracy is a very fragile form of government because it's predicated on "informed" voters making the right decisions at critical times when such voters simply do not exist in the numbers the system demands. The rest of the book was spent describing how people arrive at the decisions they do and how they are ripe for the taking by folks like Roger Ailes whose copy of Public Opinion no doubt has underlines and notes in the margin all over the place.

As for Republicans, I've no doubt they'd be willing to cause America harm if it would serve their interests because they wouldn't see it as harm at all but merely the short term pain the country had to go through for the long term gain of electing far right conservative governments that in their view are the only ones able to take this country in the direction it needs to go.

There is an example of this dynamic in Robert Draper's new book about the the Republican House of Representatives after the Tea Party election of 2010. Veteran Republican congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson asked one of the Tea Party freshman at the height of last summer's debt ceiling debacle to explain to her the thinking of those who wanted to invite economic Armageddon by allowing it to default on its debt.

"I can't have this conversation with my constituents becaue I'll yell at them and they'll yell at me. So you tell me," she said.

The Tea Party guys says: "We've spent way too much money. If this is the price we pay, so be it."

Emerson told Draper she wanted to reply: "You asshole! Do you really not understand what could happen here?"

When she got home she ordered her husband: "Just pour me a big glass of wine. I cannot believe that I had this conversation with someone who was elected to Congress."

Ideology is a wonderful thing. It really does allow us to create our own reality, or to excuse our actions when the destroy the only one we have.
Thanks for saying this. It seems like the penguins on the edge of the ice shoving each other around to see who goes into the water first. Now that this is out we can all talk about it.