Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why the Scandal Outbreak?

A lot of people have been speculating about why the Republicans suddenly decided to ramp up their scream machine about three nonexistent scandals all at once.  I thought at first that this might represent the start of a massive campaign to tar all Democrats as evil, in the run up to the 2014 Congressional races. This may have been in their minds, but I think I now have a better answer.

An examination of Republican behavior the last couple of years tells me that the Republicans were planning to base their entire campaign on the budget deficit, simultaneously doing everything they could to prevent the economy from improving, and screeching continuously that the Democrats were to blame.  This position, of course, was not a serious one, but was intended solely to justify their attempts to force "austerity" on the country; this term actually meaning taking more and more from ordinary people and giving it to the real Republican base- the hyper-rich.

Unfortunately, their great crusade has been dealt two crushing blows lately.  First of all, the "research" on which the push for austerity was based has been shown to be shot full of holes, and particularly in the case of the seminal Reinhardt-Rogoff paper, to likely be just one more deliberate right wing misstatement of the facts.  And far more importantly, even the halting efforts of the Obama administration to deal with the budget deficit left to him by Bush have now succeeded in reducing the deficit by half, and bringing it into acceptable territory. Let's not give Obama too much credit for this- if he had supported Keynesian (translate: "true") economic policies in the manner advocated all along by Krugman, Brad DeLong and others, we would be in far better shape today.  But still, the budget deficit is not at this point a decisive issue to any rational person.

So, the Republicans need something else to stir the cauldrons of outrage.  The truth is that, in five years, they have found virtually nothing to really blame on Obama, so here come the phony scandals:  Benghazi- a meaningless tempest in a teapot based on Republican lies and forgeries; the IRS "scandal," nothing but an attempt to smear the IRS for doing what was its clear job: investigating the applications of political organizations which claimed, in acts of patent perjury, to not be engaging in politics; looking at phone records to discover a very serious leaker of classified information, in a totally legal manner.  Republicans once again count on the corporate press to take their side on all of these scandals, and here we go.  Revising public statements about Benghazi during a time of considerable confusion about what happened becomes a worse crime than Republicans starting a war of aggression and allowing the rich to destroy the economy, just as Clinton's blow job was.  And we are left where we started- frightened, vacillating Democrats, who seem to believe in nothing but staying in office, against feral Republican attack dogs.  And seeing as how the media are totally on the side of the dogs, it's no wonder that so many of our nation's easily soluble problems have become impenetrable morasses, and that meaningless phony scandals push real news out of view.


joseph said...

Why the Scand Outbreak? Anything to distract from the critical economic issue facing the country, wealth inequality. No economy can last when too much wealth goes to too few people. There are three approaches to wealth inequality, seeing it as a problem (the left), seeing it as acceptable (the president and his allies) and seeing it as a good thing (Republicans). Periodically, Americans have turned to populists who, in some sense, try to equalize the economy. Jackson, Bryan and Long come to mind. If I was hoarding a huge stash, I would worry that a rational populist would come along and all the the campaign contributions in the world couldn't stop him (or her).

Green Eagle said...

"There are three approaches to wealth inequality, seeing it as a problem (the left), seeing it as acceptable (the president and his allies) and seeing it as a good thing (Republicans)."

Pretty good summary there. If I were, say, one of the Koch brothers, however, I'd be a lot more worried that their actions will generate not a Huey Long, but a Robespierre.

joseph said...

Mr. Eagle,

Someone once told me that things have to change to stay the same. The Kochs, and their fellow plutocrats want things to stay the same, but are afraid of change.