"What Republicans Must Do"
"Professional football is in its pre-season and so is
politics. Coaches are trying out plays and players to see what might bring them
victory when the season starts next month. Politicians are experimenting with
themes they think will bring them victory.
"The political playbook of the Democrats is familiar: class warfare in which the poor and middle class think "the rich" are stealing from them and blaming Republicans for the few CEO's who are crooks. Republicans seem mostly content playing defense. They must learn to score or risk losing the House and allowing Democrats to pad their one-vote lead in the Senate.
"A large turnout of angry Republicans elected the GOP class of 1994, the one that put the party in control of the House for the first time in 40 years. After cutting taxes and reforming welfare, Republicans slipped back into try9ing to prove they were not "mean-spirited" or anti-elderly.
"Who is angrier in 2002? Clearly, it's the Democrats. They're angry over the presidential loss of 2000. They're angry that they've been stripped of what they regard as their entitlement to run the House. And they're at least feigning anger over the corporate scandals.
" I asked Paul Weydrich about Republican prospects in the coming election. Weyrich, President of the Free Congress Foundation, has one of the best political minds in Washington. He was an architect of the 1980 Republican blowout that put Ronald Reagan in the White House and Republicans in control of the Senate.
"Weyrich believes Republicans are doomed if they don't motivate their base, and that they could easily lose their House majority and fail to win back the Senate. To avoid such a catastrophe, he says President Bush and every Republican must start raising red meat issues that will get the conservative base to the polls.
" Immigration is first on Weyrich's list. 'Republicans have not been tackling the immigration issue,' says Weyrich, 'because President Bush is in favor of amnesty for illegal aliens and wants to let them into the country. Yet there is no evidence he is getting any of their votes.'
" Issue two, he says, is the Boy Scouts. 'Republican emotions are weak on the gay issue,' says Weyrich, referring to the continuing controversy over whether homosexual men should be allowed to be scoutmasters.
"Issue three for Weyrich is the San Francisco Appeals Court ruling which said the phrase 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. Though the decision was written by an appointee of Richard Nixon, Weyrich says the political issue should be activist judges and what they've done to hurt our country.
"Assuming Bush and his party won't suddenly reverse course and start angering Republican voters, motivating them to go to the polls in November, how does the GOP make political gains this fall? Weyrich says that in such a case, only a war of liberation in Iraq can reverse Republican fortunes.
"'An 'October surprise' will completely change the dynamic of the election," he says. "The public will rally around the president and Republicans If it is well thought out and Saddam is ousted. We can't have a situation like we do with Osama bin Laden where he hasn't been located and victory in Afghanistan is not clear.'"
"President Bush has been playing Mr. Nice Guy, which he is. But there is a time for anger, and that time is now. If he wants a governing majority that he can use to advance his beliefs and policies, it's better to get his base angry than to to be angry after Democrats win a congressional majority."
So a successful war in Iraq will rally Americans around
the President, and will help insure Republican dominance in Congress. You may
argue that attacking an unprovoked third-world country in a "pre-emptive
strike", like Hitler's pre-emptive strikes on Poland, and then on Belgium,
Holland, Denmark, and France, is morally wrong. But we do what we have to do to
maintain our power base.
I have to admit: I can't quite picture George Washington or Thomas Jefferson identifying themselves with such a policy.
These aren't the Democrats accusing the Republicans of wrapping themselves in the flag to help them carry the November election. These are the Republicans telling you that this is what they plan to do. They plan to attack Iraq to generate patriotic fervor among those who aren't astute enough to see through their manipulations..
After World War II, at the Nuremburg war crimes trials, Air Marshal
Hermann Goering, late of the Luftwaffe and the Third Reich, was asked by a
journalist how he got German boys to go to war when they were opposed to it.
"Of course they're opposed to it! Why should some young farm boy want to go off and risk getting his head blown off? But you tell everyone the country may be invaded, and you denounce the pacifists as cowards, and they'll go to war."
Waging Class Warfare?
Another article in tonight's paper is by Molly Ivins. She
explains that the administration's latest proposal to prevent future Enrons is
to cut the capital gains tax. That way, Ken Lay won't have to pay capital gains
taxes on his stock sales. She also mentions the 1987 change in the accounting
rules that allowed corporations to treat anticipated pension income as a part of
anticipated earnings, and the 1994 loosening that allowed executives to hide
their stock options from their investors. (Basically, what happened was that
some managements decided to quit working for their owners, and loot their
companies---all legally. Why should they slave naively for the benefit of the
owners when they could line their own pockets, and then leave their collapsing
companies to the wolves?) (One young Texan Republican I knew back in 1957 told me that
his goal in life was to loot a company, and then "leave its carcass for the
crows to pick over".)
Ms. Ivins observes that in 1999, the average after-tax income of the middle 60 percent of Americans was lower than in 1977. The 400 richest Americans between 1982 and 1999 increased their average net worth from $230 million to $2.6 billion, or a little over 500% in constant dollars.
She mentions that less than half of all Americans have any pension and health coverage as well as the Industrial West's least amount of vacation time, shortest maternity leaves, and shortest average notice of termination.
From 1980 to 1999, the 500 largest U. S. corporations tripled their assets while eliminating 5 million American jobs.
"If Bush has his way we're going to fight an unprovoked war with Iraq without financial help. The health care system is falling apart, school teachers should be paid at least twice what they make now, lack of low-income housing is making life hell for the working class and now the right-wing wants to cut taxes for the rich yet again? That's class warfare."
So there it is, on both sides.
The Stock Market
The stock market posted new highs today, with the Dow
reaching 8,743, the NASDAQ rebounding to 1,334, and the S&P 500 closing at
920. That means the S&P 500 is up more than 15% from its low of 798, and the
Dow has risen 13.5% from its low of 7,700..The good news is that these are
substantial gains. The bad news is that this is a substantial part of the gains
that we might see between now and the 2004 election. Of course, most of us are
still heavily invested in the stock market and won't be distraught if our
portfolios go back up.
Interest on 10-year Treasuries has moved back up to 4.63%, which is about where it was when the stock market began falling four weeks ago.
If the administration is planning to invade Iraq in October, then it would be advisable to sell stock between now and then. The stock market would almost surely dive when that happened.