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It’s All About Principles

January 24th, 2009 by Myrhaf · 4 Comments · Politics

Bloggers on the right are considering the meaning and importance of Obama’s comment to Republicans last week, “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done”.

First, the left makes a bit too much of Rush Limbaugh. They think he is part of a “Republican attack machine.” There is no such machine. Talk radio hosts do not coordinate their message with the Republican Party. Limbaugh, although he is Republican homer, is a conservative speaking his mind, not someone following orders. Dismissing conservative criticism as merely the “Republican attack machine” gives the left an excuse not to address any criticism toward them.

(Limbaugh, of course, could not be more delighted that Obama attacks him. Who would not want that kind of publicity? Now Rush can sit back, light up a cigar and watch his ratings rise.)

Second, I think Obama’s statement is about a deeper issue than any single radio personality. Rush Limbaugh is a symbol here for holding principles. Granted, Obama is overestimating the Republicans by implying they might have principles any more, but that is what he is truly attacking in his statement.

If the Republicans had free market principles, they would be fighting for separation of economy and state. Any compromise they make with Obama on a stimulus bill helps only the side that wants more big government. Freedom is not advanced by any compromise any more than a man’s health is advanced if he only takes half a dose of poison instead of a full dose.

Obama is telling the Republicans they must be pragmatic. He is also telling them, you must accept our principles. Any compromise worked out in the stimulus bill will be about how much spending to increase and what pressure groups get the booty. The idea of a massive increase in government spending will not be questioned.

Kos is actually right — a sign of the apocalypse? — about what Republicans should do:

Why does Obama keep thinking that “appealing for bipartisanship” will move a single Republican vote?

For Republicans, the calculus is simple:

  1. If the stimulus plan succeeds, Obama and the Democratic Congress will get all the credit.
  1. If the stimulus plan fails, everyone who supported it will get blamed for blowing it.

Look at Iraq. Sure, Bush gets the lion’s share of the blame, but Hillary Clinton isn’t president specifically because of her war vote. And the Democratic Congress is still largely unpopular in huge part to its inability to force change on Iraq policy. Republicans are already unpopular enough. If they won’t benefit from success, and will get hurt more by failure, they might as well sit this one out.

Republican are smart enough to shrug their shoulders and wipe their hands clean of this. The big mistake would be to try and stop this stimulus. The smart play is to avoid obstruction and simply cast a “no” vote, then start looking for other places to highlight contrasts between them and their Democratic foes.

Obama should focus on crafting the best stimulus plan possible, rather than watering or compromising anything to try and get elusive GOP support.

Obama is more careful than Kos. If the stimulus plan should fail, he wants bipartisan sharing of the blame. Given the weakness and confusion of the Republicans he should certainly see what support he can get from them.

I hope the Republicans follow Kos’s advice and vote against the stimulus plan, which is nothing more than a collection of spending projects the Democrats want in order to funnel money to their pressure groups so they will be reelected in 2010. They call $1 trillion in more spending a “stimulus package” to help get the bill passed. As Rahm Emanuel said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

The Republicans should stay away from the stimulus package so that everyone understands with the clarity of a ringing bell that the bill is Democrat. More important, people will understand that big government is not the answer.

If the bill should succeed and economic growth should soar and happiness should bloom throughout the land, then the Democrats will get the credit and will hold power for the next generation at least. I think Republicans will be safe taking that risk.

4 Comments so far ↓

  • Ted

    WTF, at least El Rushbo is constitutionally qualified to be President!

  • David A McBride

    Isn’t POTUS simply reacting to what Rush Limbaugh has said earlier “I hope Obama fails”. see

  • Myrhaf

    Obama is making a broader point, David, than merely reacting to that statement. He is saying Republicans can’t listen to Limbaugh in general. In other words, they have to reject any free market principles and accept the premise of a massive spending bill and hammer out a compromise within that premise.

  • Jim May

    It would have been fun if he’d said “You can’t just read Ayn Rand”…. hoo boy.

    In light of the earlier reference to the “virtue of selfishness”, I wonder if that may yet happen.