Republicans Are Still the Stupid Party! - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Republicans Are Still the Stupid Party!
From the first Trump-Biden debate, Sept. 29, 2020 (C-SPAN)

Is the Republican Party ready for a nerd?

When it comes to anti-woke, announced Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy (AI created?) is as forceful as, but curiously more passionate than, the soon-to-announce, eminently viable Ron DeSantis. Both men have a high IQ, yet so does Mike Pompeo, who last month said he’s not running. (And dismal president Jimmy Carter had a high IQ.)

What about political IQ?

Republicans remain the stupid party!

The longer Republicans can keep Biden in the race, the more divisive the Democrats will be in selecting his replacement.

Ramaswamy’s recent nuanced, excellent critique of the Federal Reserve is apparently above the heads of many Republicans in Congress. Graduating from nerd to policy wonk, Ramaswamy does get in the weeds; the essence continues, as legendary Democratic Party strategist James Carville famously opined a generation ago to be, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

It’s too early to discount Ramaswamy or any other Republican running and definitely wrong to assume another  Biden-Trump match-up. And though voters are starting to follow the Hunter Biden saga, we don’t know if his wrongdoings have political traction, unless the implicate “the Big Guy.”

Until closure, Hunter Biden is just noise. And Republicans talk about impeachment, as if it’s their plot, rather than let it be organic. As with the other hearings. It’s as if an impaneled jury publicized its verdict before deliberations, or even opening arguments. And 15-minutes-of-fame Republican committee chairs don’t get it: the “jury” for the various hearings is not Fox News Hannity viewers, but independent voters increasingly disenchanted with both political parties. (The amateurish hearings can still be salvaged with choreographed substance.)

As I noted earlier this year, Republican leaders should stay focused on the economy, notably the nexus of inflation/high interest rates. Republicans underperformed in the midterms because they failed to hold Democrats accountable for inflation, and that’s still the case.

Increasing the debt ceiling? We’ve seen this movie before. A “shutdown”: stocks tumble antagonizing the saver class, no Social Security checks to voting retirees, government employees stay home and then will be paid anyway, Republicans get blamed for the chaos, and … back to business as usual. Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s noble effort to reform and limit federal spending comes across instead as a partisan scheme, to hold the “full faith and credit” of the United States hostage to what is perceived as an irresponsible tantrum.

That’s because the debt-hike battle is a non sequitur: there is no predicate. Republicans should have for months attacked the Federal Reserve Board’s monetary policy of drastic hikes in interest rates as destructive, hurting people struggling with credit card debt, or trying to buy or lease a car, or buy a home and making it more costly for businesses to borrow to expand capacity and thus lower prices, and more recently, major bank failures. And educate voters on how much federal, state, and local governments spend on debt service, and the impact of higher interest rates on government budgets.

And, also, highlighting high interest rates as complicitly providing cover for President Biden’s disastrous fiscal policy of runaway federal spending, which should be depicted repeatedly as the proximate cause of inflation. In other words, Biden and Democrats should own inflation and high interest rates. Yet, A.D.D. Republicans, who are all over the map, let Biden and the Democrats skate.

Republicans would be wise to keep expressing a willingness to negotiate on the debt limit, and depict Biden as recalcitrant. But they need to get back on message, that the debt limit is about inflation.

If you’re going for confrontation on the debt limit, then link the spending reforms you want in the deal as necessary to curb inflation. (Remember Biden’s discredited “Inflation Reduction Act” that is, in fact, inflationary.) But you can’t do that if you haven’t made the case that Biden’s fiscal policies led to double-digit inflation, resulting in a profound sabotage of not only those in need, but the middle class. And the damage is permanent lasting, and generational. Inflation goes against the ethos of stability and belief in the future. The calculus is despair, and we will not return to affordability without an upheaval in Washington.

What havoc inflation has wrought — if Republicans remind voters of their newfound pessimism and concern for whether their children will have a better life, or even an equally secure life: — the enduring increase in the cost of living is now a cultural issue!

Just as artificially low interest rates distorted the economy, the artificially high interest rates are now distorting it. Politically, conflating high interest rates and inflation with Biden and the Democrats is the key, not playing defense on alleged Social Security cuts or implausibly and inartfully fighting an increase in the debt ceiling.

We don’t know if and when there will be a recession or how long overall prices will increase by a certain percentage, but the rate of increase likely will go down. However, the farther away we get from high inflation, and the closer we get to November 2024, the more difficult it will be to hold Biden accountable, or for that matter, the Democrats, because —as I’ve repeated often — Biden, like Trump, will not be his party’s nominee. Biden’s campaign assumes Trump; Trump’s campaign assumes Biden. Ironically, neither man can win without the other. (Hint: the longer Republicans can keep Biden in the race, the more divisive the Democrats will be in selecting a successor.)

As for Trump, he has a near infinite capacity for self-destruction.

Sure, the latest polls show Trump leading Biden, but Biden is more weak than Trump strong. Even the less known and undeclared DeSantis leads Biden and by slightly more. No wonder, there is a generic rejection of Biden: his job approval is 36 percent approve, 56 percent disapprove. And Trump is seen as doing a better job on the economy by a similar margin. Even the mainstream media’s coverage of the current civil case against Trump for alleged rape is subordinate to its negative coverage of Biden’s reelection announcement, and recent growing coverage of the border crisis. Unlike the announcement of past presidents to run for a second term, Biden’s announcement triggered a fall in support. The reality of a Biden second term scares voters.

Media focus on Biden’s age is reinforced. Voters see Senate leaders and Senate committee chairs who are old. The AWOL Sen. Dianne Feinstein will be 90 next month. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who now speaks for Biden on the debt ceiling, is 75 (and doesn’t look a day over 77); and she talks in slow motion. We don’t need Don Lemon to say these women, like their male colleagues, are “past their prime.”

Meanwhile, Trump will “age” in image and demeanor more than chronologically. In debates, he will come across as shrill and bitter; if he does not debate, his absence will be conspicuous. Presumably, his opponents will not be stupid enough to attack him in absentia.

Republicans will eventually understand the main danger of a Trump candidacy: if Biden does not end up running and Trump does: independent voters are volatile: they went for Biden in 2020 and now suddenly (but not reliably) favor Trump; but I predict they would favor almost any other Democrat over Trump.

Republicans must plan the end game. They must reiterate to voters that Biden and the Democrats presided over a permanent and substantial increase in the overall price level. We may see a reduced rate of inflation. But unless we have a major and lasting recession, we won’t see major cuts in the prices of goods and services. Therefore, Republicans must remind voters of the good old days when goods and services were affordable. Continued strikes and substantial wage hikes are baking continued higher prices of the status quo permanently into the system.

Instead of focusing on the economy, notably inflation and high interest rates, and the enduring shift in the price level of goods and services, Republicans obsess about who’s on first. Gullible Republicans took their cue from the media and misinterpreted Trump’s polling ascendancy over DeSantis as conclusive, rather than more likely transitory. Yes, Trump benefited among the base when the New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg overreached with his absurd indictment of Trump that was widely seen as political. But Congressional Republicans, days before the indictment, appeared political with a ridiculous attempt to investigate and subpoena Bragg, as if to intimidate a local prosecutor. Not exactly federalism.

We see among Republicans, as presidential candidate Larry Elder has warned, the perennial circular firing squad. For example, demagogic Trump ads attack DeSantis for wanting to cut Social Security, thus validating the Democrat narrative about Republicans. Trump’s vendors know better — that serious reform proposals do not cut benefits for current retirees or those near retirement age.

And DeSantis himself, not yet a nominee, imprudently lowered himself to attacking Trump: though ignoring him would embolden Trump into bully mode. If trying to out-negative Trump is DeSantis’s campaign, a third “positive” candidate will emerge. DeSantis also has presided over a series of unforced errors, such as characterizing Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as a “territorial dispute.” And moving beyond his K-to-grade 3 victory on sexual indoctrination of little kids to a prohibition in higher grades was problematic. Or the quixotic battle against Disney that has legal problems that could have been anticipated. And then there’s the 6-week limit on abortion, which places DeSantis alienating independent voters at the epicenter. And DeSantis is seen as not the master of his own house, with assorted Republican elected officials in Florida endorsing Trump.

DeSantis has a superb record as Florida governor. Will he run on it?

DeSantis and the other Republican candidates must not attack each other, especially in debates. They must cast Biden as a failed presidency, emphasizing — but also beyond — the economy, to include secondary issues such as border crisis, fentanyl, crime, national security, public schools, COVID origins and mishandling, Woke. They don’t have to tell voters that Biden is unfit. Voters know and see it. But Republican candidates must link the failed presidency inextricably lo the Democratic Party’s policies and, by association, any Biden successor — Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, et al. Independent voters and moderate Democrats need to believe the Democratic Party has gone rogue.

While each party needs to turn out its base in the presidential election next year, the growing independent vote will be dispositive. And the irony is that the less partisan Republicans are, the more likely Republicans will do well among independent voters. It means not attacking Democrats, but depicting the Democratic Party elite as having gone mad, crazy, off its rocker. Appeal properly to independents and you also get disaffected Democrats.

But what has the Stupid Party been doing instead?

More examples: We have Tennessee Republican legislators expelling two black Republicans from the State Legislature, both claiming they are being silenced because they favor gun control after the Tennessee shootings and, of course, the visual narrative … because they are black. And they are headed back to the Legislature, anyway. And to top that, we have Montana Republican legislators blocking a transgender lawmaker from the remainder of the legislative session, he/she then claiming intimidation. This is how the Stupid Party uses a veto-proof state legislative super majority.

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