Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Cognitive Dissonance Strikes Back

Largely unnoticed outside of progressive blogs there was a fairly tempting opportunity to assail the Bush tax cuts last year on the basis of national public opinion polling.  But the Obama administration and Congress let it pass.  Why?

Perhaps they understand the Republican coalition better than Republicans do.  This is a cohort which can not only hold two opposing thoughts but remain oblivious to the contradiction.  Congressional Republicans walked straight into a minefield with their deficit reducing “entitlements” roll-back:

The problem was underscored last week when Republicans bowed to political realities on their signature issue of entitlement reform, acknowledging that a plan to overhaul and eventually privatize Medicare would not advance anytime soon, and would not be part of a deal with the White House to raise the government’s borrowing limit.

Democrats have attacked the Medicare proposal, and polls have shown formidable public disapproval of it. Many Republican lawmakers ran into a wall of voter opposition during a congressional spring recess.

Kathleen Hennessey and Lisa Mascaro – GOP finding it hard to make progress LAT 7 May 11

That was an unforced political error of significant proportions.  We understand their constituency; when they complain about “entitlements” they are complaining about other people receiving them; seems they are something like a VA benefit for patriotic, God-fearing Republicans.  Who knew?

Well, every Republican administration and legislature of the last forty years, for a start.  The Republicans have always had an awkward coalition between corporate and values influences.  

For the last eighteen months a feedback loop has been active between the grass-roots “activists” and ideological radicals like Santorum, the Koch brothers, Fox News producers and talk-back radio.  But there has clearly been no real communication or thoughtful exchange of ideas.  Legislative Republicans, some of them quite inexperienced, misread their constituencies badly and have failed to correct it in any meaningful way.  

There is an election coming up and most Republicans in their newly minted House majority are on permanent record as having voted for “privitising” Medicare, and we all know what that means.  And most indepedents would probably be thinking that with a veto-proof majority Republicans would still do it:

“Why keep pushing something if it’s political kryptonite and it’s not going anywhere anyway?” said one GOP strategist, who asked not to be named in order to speak freely.

But not all Republicans are eager to turn down the volume on entitlement reform. Many freshman legislators were elected on promises to cut the deficit and reduce the debt, widely considered all but impossible without entitlement reform.

Kathleen Hennessey and Lisa Mascaro – GOP finding it hard to make progress LAT 7 May 11

If you were a Republican strategist preparing a national presidential campaign how would you fix that?


  1. IL JimP

    instead they’ll double down.  Like you said, they only know how to do 2 things cut taxes and talk about cutting Medicare and Social Security.  Why should we expect anything differently?

  2. DeniseVelez

    the “anti-big gov” Republicans try to sell their message in states in the South recently hit by the tornadoes.  

    Wonder if all those folks who will be getting rebuilding loans will be interested in giving the money back?

    I hope that Democrats will be better at pointing to all the potholes and craters in the Republican platform.

    Of course the propensity for poorer and middle class Republicans to vote against their own self-interest still manages to get people to go out and elect candidates who will turn around and give them the shaft – but I’m hoping that a few people have paid attention to the lesson of Wisconsin.

    We shall see.

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