Memo to Conservatives: You failed and are now irrelevant.
OK, I expect you'll ignore this memo like our previous ones. Nate Silver is right: Republicans are caught in a death spiral, and it's going to be awhile yet before they hit bottom.
Nowhere is it more self-evident than in the broad acknowledgment this week that the GOP is being led by a bilious radio talk-show host, and the ongoing fact that its most popular politician is a wingnutty, malinformed Alaska governor.
The unanimous refusal of House Republicans to vote in favor of Obama's stimulus plan may have given the Malkinites a stiffy, but all it really demonstrated was the utter impotence of Conservatives to have any say in how we proceed with fixing the economy.
And there's one real reason for that: They broke it. Their philosophy of governance, especially their feverish laissez-faire demolition of regulatory oversight, and their obscene enrich-the-rich approach to taxation, were the two overarching reasons for our current economic debacle. Of course they still want to blame minority lending for the plunge, but no one with serious money is bothering to listen any longer, because they know what the story is. And so do most Americans.
So Rush Limbaugh can pen all the worthless split-the-baby-in-two proposals for economic stimulus he likes, and House Republicans can toss out all the tax-cut-heavy alternatives they like. And no one will take them seriously, because we've heard these proposals before -- for the past eight years, in fact. They've been nothing but a recipe for failure and disaster. Why would anyone want to take that course now?
What's worse for Republicans is that not only have they not yet figured out how irrelevant they've become, they are even further from understanding the reasons for their irrelevance. They're in deep denial about the direct relationship between their philosophy and the current economic debacle, and even more so the extent to which the public is finding their pugnacious, vicious, attacking style of politics increasingly repellent.
So Neil Cavuto is right when he defends Limbaugh by saying that of course, ideologically speaking, conservatives will naturally as a matter of principle oppose Obama's policies. We understand that Limbaugh and other conservatives believes that Obama's policies will fail and will vote and speak accordingly.
But he completely overlooks the problem with Limbaugh when he openly hopes Obama will fail: It's one thing to believe a policy will fail and oppose it accordingly. It's quite another to openly hope for it.
Most liberals, by way of contrast, believed George W. Bush would fail, and many predicted it; but it's hard to find any of them, particularly leading Democrats, who were out there saying that they hoped he -- and by extension, the nation -- would fail after 9/11 because his policies were "fascist." They opposed these policies in principle. Anyone who openly hoped for our military failure in Iraq, for instance, was in a tiny minority; but there were millions of us who opposed the war because we believed it was not only wrongheaded but doomed to fail. And we were proved right.
In fact, all this shouting is just cover for Republicans' greatest and deepest fear: That Obama in fact will succeed. That progressive "socialism" (as they call it) actually will make people's lives better, heal the economy, and get the nation back on its feet. That the nation's working people will finally get a clear view of which side is on their side. That the public will finally see that not only is Conservatism an abject failure, it's a fraud.
In the end, they are such deeply invested ideologues that they would rather see the nation fail than see that reality reach fruition.