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The Jehoshua Novels


Popping the Factual Bubble

Here’s Rachel Maddow on her show the day after the election, commenting on the Romney team’s initial refusal to believe that Barack Obama really had won Ohio:

MADDOW: Ohio really did go to President Obama last night. And he really did win. And he really was born in Hawaii. And he really is legitimately president of the United States, again.

And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month. And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy. And the polls were not skewed to oversample Democrats. And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math.

And climate change is real. And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes. And evolution is a thing.

And Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us. And nobody is taking away anyone`s guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the deficit is dropping, actually.

And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. And the moon landing was real. And FEMA is not building concentration camps. And U.N. election observers are not taking over Texas. And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as communism.

Listen, last night was a good night for liberals and for Democrats for very obvious reasons, but it was also, possibly, a good night for this country as a whole, because in this country, we have a two-party system in government. And the idea is supposed to be that the two sides, both come up with ways to confront and fix the real problems facing our country. They both propose possible solutions to our real problems. And we debate between those possible solutions.

And by the process of debate, we pick the best idea. That competition between good ideas from both sides about real problems in the real country should result in our country having better choices, better options, than if only one side is really working on the hard stuff.

And if the Republican Party and the conservative movement and the conservative media is [stuck in] a vacuum-sealed door-locked spin cycle of telling each other what makes them feel good and denying the factual, lived truth of the world, then we are all deprived as a nation of the constructive debate about competing feasible ideas about real problems.

Last night the Republicans got shellacked, and they had no idea it was coming. And we saw them in real time, in real humiliating time, not believe it, even as it was happening to them.

And unless they are going to is secede, they are going to have to pop the factual bubble they have been so happy living inside if they do not want to get shellacked again. And that will be a painful process for them, but it will be good for the whole country, left, right, and center. You guys, we`re counting on you. Wake up.

Of course, since Democrats/liberals/progressives are the ones who DO know the difference between reality and fantasy, we’ll have to acknowledge the likelihood that it will take Romney supporters more than just a few days to make their way through the process of turning away from the alternate reality they have constructed over the course of the last decade-plus, and particularly the last four years. We can’t expect it to happen overnight. Even if we did, we would be disabused of our fond notions by even a cursory glance at the responses to Pres. Obama’s reelection on the right.

We can start with Mitt Romney himself, who “[h]ours before the polls closed Tuesday … told reporters on his plane that he’s so confident in a win he’s only prepared a victory speech.”

I was watching MSNBC’s election night coverage when this report came through, and some of the on-air contributors couldn’t believe that Romney’s claim was any more than his campaign’s usual pr bluster. How could Romney possibly NOT have prepared a concession speech? How could he have believed it was literally impossible for him to lose? But it turned out to be true. Hours after the networks announced that Obama was the winner, Romney conceded the results in a phone call to Obama and a “hastily composed” speech, “knowing he had to say something.”

There are lots of articles like this Politico piece about how “shell-shocked” Romney and his staff were and are about the election results. They believed their own wishful thinking about having “enthusiasm” and “intensity” on their side. They were shocked at the fact that Obama got a higher percentage of the African-American and the women’s vote than he did in 2008. They believed their own spin about women having no interest at all in abortion or contraception or pay equity as issues that could influence their votes. They fell hook, line, and sinker for the notion that, since they believed Obamacare was a job-killing, deficit-busting catastrophe; since they believed that the unemployment rate now is higher than it was when Obama first took office; since they believed that the stimulus was an abject failure that didn’t create even one new job; since they believed that Obama had raised taxes on the middle class and increased the deficit when he actually gave middle-class Americans a tax cut and reduced the deficit; since they believed that Obama wanted to destroy Medicare and Republicans wanted to save it; since they believed that tax cuts for the wealthy would create jobs and prosperity, that a majority of American voters believed those things, too. Republicans actually thought that a majority of American voters would believe lies and myths rather than believe the truth and the reality of their own lived experience.

One of the reasons why I wanted Obama to win the election — not the whole reason, but a big part of it — was because I so wanted Romney supporters to crash into the brick wall of their own idiotic, insane set of ironclad convictions about things that were demonstrably, provably wrong. I wanted to feel the sweetness of Republicans and Romney surrogates having to publicly admit that all the polls were NOT wrong, that their own “internal polling” and sites like unskewed.com were NOT accurate, that Nate Silver was NOT a Democratic operative skewing the numbers to produce a partisan result, and that indeed he was right about every goddamned thing he said regarding this election. I wanted all of their smug, illogical, ahistorical, paranoid, and truly demented certainties to blow up in their faces.

So you can imagine the fun I’ve been having reading all the reams of wingnut attempts to understand and explain how this could possibly have happened — how Barack Obama could possibly have been elected to a second term, and Mitt Romney returned to the dusty obscurity of private life.

So here we go:

A senior Romney adviser tells National Review‘s Robert Costa that they “really should have been talking more about Benghazi and Obamacare.” Yeah, because there was some American voter somewhere who thought being able to go to the doctor when needed was a terrible thing, and who agreed that Benghazi was the hugest scandal since Watergate. For sure, that oversight gravely harmed Romney’s chances to become POTUS.

It was Chris Christie’s fault – “He went out of his way to embrace the president during the final week of the campaign. … It wasn’t necessary and it hurt us.” Also, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock “undermined our message.”

Here Team Romney is half right. Todd Akin’s and Richard Mourdock’s public comments about, respectively, “legitimate” rape and God intending for rapists to impregnate their victims DID persuade many women (and I’m sure many men as well) not to vote for Romney — but not because those comments “undermined” Romney’s “message.” Rather, women concluded that Romney’s “message” WAS the Akin/Mourdock message — and indeed that the comments made by Akin and by Mourdock reflected core Republican ideology. That conclusion is amply justified, not only by the “Human Life Amendment” included in the Republican platform, which does not make an exception either for rape or for the health or life of the mother, but also by the fact that Paul Ryan thinks rape is just another “method of conception” AND by Ryan’s support for key legislation that used the term “forcible rape” when naming two exceptions to a complete ban on abortion (the other being the life, but not the health, of the mother).

Several other Republican candidates have also openly identified themselves with Akin’s and Mourdock’s views on abortion. For example, Josh Mandel, who was defeated Tuesday in his bid for Sherrod Brown’s seat in the U.S. Senate, not only declined to disagree with Mourdock’s statement that women who become pregnant as a result of rape should be forced to have their rapists’ babies, but he added that Mourdock was a “gentleman” and a “class act.” And John Koster was caught on audiotape expressing his views on “the rape thing” at a fundraising event:

“On the rape thing, it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s the consequence of this crime, how does that make it better?” Koster said. “You know what I mean?”

John Hinderaker wonders “with the economy the dominant issue in the campaign, why did that consensus not assure a Romney victory?” and concludes that it’s because “a great many people live outside the real, competitive economy:

Over 100 million receive means tested benefits from the federal government, many more from the states. [Actually, it's more like 300 million. And Hinderaker is more than likely one of them.] And, of course, a great many more are public employees. To many millions of Americans, the economy is mostly an abstraction [It might come as a surprise to teachers, firefighters, police officers, librarians, nurses, doctors, employees of the FBI and the CIA, and members of the U.S. Armed Forces, to learn that the U.S. economy is an abstraction to them.]

Then there is the fact that relatively few Americans actually pay for the government they consume. To a greater extent than any other developed nation, we rely on upper-income people to finance our federal government [No, we don't. Only a bit more than a quarter of total government revenue comes from federal income taxes. The remainder of the tax burden falls overwhelmingly on the middle class and the working poor.] When that is combined with the fact that around 40% of our federal spending isn’t paid for at all–it is borrowed–it is small wonder that many self-interested voters are happy to vote themselves more government [Ah, I suppose that explains why folks like Hinderaker voted for Romney/Ryan -- because they are self-interested voters who were happy to vote themselves more government defense contracts.] Mitt Romney proclaimed that Barack Obama was the candidate of “free stuff,” and voters took him at his word.

More Hinderaker, if you can stand it. I’m sorry to inflict him on you at such length, but he really is at the top of the short list of the stupidest morons in the blogosphere and, paradoxically, reading this kind of dreck now, knowing that it reflects the disbelief and rage wingnuts are feeling now that Pres. Obama has earned a second term, just feels so wonderful. In this post, Hinderaker sees “a silver lining and a conundrum” in the election results:

I can see only one good outcome from yesterday’s election: the fact that Barack Obama will be the president who inherits the mess left by Barack Obama. The economy is in awful shape; it won’t get much better given Obama’s policies, and may get worse. Many billions of dollars in capital that have been sitting on the sidelines, awaiting the outcome of this year’s election, will now give up on the United States and go elsewhere. Plants will be built in Korea and Brazil that would have been built here if the election had gone differently. The chronically unemployed–a group that is larger now than at any time since the Great Depression–aren’t going back to work. Nor are the millions who have signed up for permanent disability. Incomes will continue to stagnate. I don’t understand why anyone would vote for four more years of unemployment and poverty, but that is what the American people voted for, and that is what they are going to get.

Yes, yes, yes, John! We know you don’t and can’t understand why anyone would vote for four more years of assured health care for tens of millions of Americans who did not have it and could not afford it before. We know you don’t and can’t understand why anyone would be happy that their Medicare and their Social Security will not be privatized. We know you don’t and can’t understand why anyone in Ohio or Pennsylvania or Michigan or Wisconsin would vote for four more years of the President who saved hundreds of thousands of auto industry jobs, the President who does not hold public workers in contempt, the President who created millions of new jobs. We know you don’t and can’t understand why any American would NOT want to vote for a presidential candidate who lied — blatantly, outrageously, shamelessly — about the auto industry, about Pres. Obama’s jobs creation record, about welfare to work requirements, about almost everything that came out of his mouth; and who could not be trusted to adhere to any position on any issue for longer than a day, and sometimes not even a day. We know that you don’t understand and can’t understand why anyone would vote for four more years of Barack Obama when his reelection will have the horrible, horrible consequences so eloquently laid out by Rachel Maddow the day after the election (and re-transcribed in list form at Addicting Info):

(1) “We are not going to have a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe vs. Wade. There will be no more Antonin Scalias and Samuel Alitos added to this court.”

(2) “We’re not going to repeal health reform. Nobody’s going to kill Medicare and make old people in this generation — or any other generation — fight it out on the open market to try to get themselves health insurance. We’re not going to do that.”

(3) “We’re not going to give the 20% tax cut to millionaires and billionaires, and expect [cutting] programs like food stamps and kids’ health insurance to cover that tax cut.”

(4) “We’re not going to make you clear it with your boss if you want to get birth control with the insurance plan that you’re on.”

(5) “We are not going to redefine rape.”

(6) “We are not going to amend the constitution to stop gay people from getting married.”

(7) We’re not going to double down on Guantanamo.

(8) “We’re not eliminating the Department of Energy, the Department of Education, or Housing at the Federal level.”

(9) “We are not going to spend two trillion dollars on the military, that the military does not want.”

(10) “We are not scaling back on student loans because the country’s NEW plan is that you should borrow money from your parents.”

(11) “We are not vetoing the Dream Act, we are not ‘self-deporting.’”

(12) “We are not letting Detroit go bankrupt.”

(13) “We are not starting a trade war with China on Inauguration Day in January.”

(14) “We are not going to have — as a president — a man who once led a mob of friends to run down a scared gay kid to hold him down and forcibly cut his hair off with a pair of scissors while that kid cried and screamed for help. (And there was NO apology, not EVER.)”

(15) “We are not going to have a Secretary of State John Bolton. We are not going to bring Dick Cheney back. We are not going to have a foreign policy shop stocked with architects of the Iraqi war, we are not going to do it … We had the choice to do that if we wanted to do that, as a country, and we said no, last night, loudly.”

And I, for one, am so looking forward, John Hinderaker, to the next four years of you and your fellow right-wing lunatics not understanding, no matter how hard you try, why anyone would vote for such appalling outcomes.

2 comments to Popping the Factual Bubble

  • yogi-one

    Yep.

    Appealing to hate and stupidity will get you a certain percentage of the votes. The old Southern Strategy was meant to exploit this segment of the voters. However, it is not a strategy that will carry the majority. If we had a coalition govt of three parties or more, it is possible that a political entity such as the Tea Party could be the third party, but they would have to beat out the Green Party. America has also had a socialist worker’s party for along time, but it has never caught on in a big way.

    If a hypothetical Tea Party was actually formed, then all the moderate conservatives would feel safe to vote Republican again and herd the wackos over to the Tea Party. This would have worked to the benefit of the GOP, but against the Tea Party, because wackos alone would also not be a big enough percentage of the vote to get any real power. The Tea party’s power now comes from it’s ability to to coerce moderates, but that trend is on the wane, because the moderate Conservatives have seen, in this election, that kowtowing down to the Tea Party’s brand of self-inconsistent, purely emotional based policy, will not guarantee them a win in a general election.

    I think you are going to see a trend back towards more moderate Republicanism. And actually, that will be a greater threat to the Democrats than the wackos ever were. The Dems can now paint the choice as sanity (Dem) vs insanity (Repub), but with the re-establishment of a moderate GOP, they won’t be able to do that anymore.

    That would, of course, benefit the country as a whole, because it might result in future Congresses that can actually work out some agreements, because the stigma of being a pussy if you agree to ANYTHING with the other side will be removed.

    The GOP will have to re-learn that the true purpose of the two-party system is to move the country forward with checks and balances intact, NOT a UFC Championship style blowout with no rules of engagement, where the goal is simply to wipe out everybody else.

    It will come as a hard lesson to them, but I know there are already some conservatives that get it, and see the need to re-establish a more moderate conservatism – which is the kind of conservatism that Americans actually want, and would be successful at garnering votes in a general election.

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