At a time when the Republicans are beset by Tea Party candidates whose serious behavior overwhelms the most conscious satire efforts constructed by writers of Saturday Night Live, a situation that would traditionally redound in favor of Democrats, we have instead a silly season where some of the most unfit candidates ever foisted on the public are enjoying leads in the polls.
Two recent classic cases, both from the West, jump out for inspection. Meg Whitman, a woman who has unleashed her E-Bay executive millions in a bid to buy the governorship of California, used some of her money to purchase time for an ad where she inadvertently salutes her opponent.
Whitman is seen and heard longing for the past, for that wonderful California of 1980 when she and her husband moved to the Golden State in pursuit of the good life. Wouldn't it be wonderful to restore that period, Whitman wishes. Yes, and who was governor in 1980, the glorious period she wishes to recapture as California's governor?
Actually there was a highly familiar face serving as governor then, Meg. It was Jerry Brown. Remember him? He is that same candidate you are fervently running against, the target of all those mega million bucks your hired guns have been attacking non-stop. [Californians are rolling in the aisles with laughter at this ad.]
In the neighboring state of Nevada we have one of the Tea Party's most celebrated favorites, Sharron Angle, who seeks to unseat Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Angle is emerging as a good candidate running for sprint champion of Nevada. Her sprinting is to avoid contact with a reporter seeking to ask her about her foreign policy views. As the local television reporter seeks to keep pace running after the fleet-footed Angle at McCarran Airport, he persists.
With America currently engaged on two war fronts, he asks her views about Iraq and Afghanistan. Alas, after being long ignored Angle finally responds to the reporter. The candidate that, according to recent polls, Nevadans prefer over Senate Majority Leader Reid concedes that the wars are both "there." In short, Angle concedes that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan actually exist. Such, apparently, is her succinct analysis of two costly wars in which the U.S. is currently engaged. They truly exist, a kernel of wisdom we have gleaned from the pristine foreign policy mind of Tea Party favorite Angle.
There is one more example of another Tea Party celebrity, this time on the East Coast, whose sparkling wit has also been in evidence. Christine O'Donnell in a recent debate with Delaware senatorial opponent Chris Coons knew nothing about the First Amendment and its free exercise clause regarding religion and the state.
Coons was shown patiently explaining to O'Donnell about the First Amendment as he would to a young daughter early in her civics class study. In place of being appreciative for Coons' assistance, O'Donnell put her later spin on the experience for media consumption. O'Donnell had lectured Coons, she insisted. She believes that she had been the informed party. [She thought that the audience was laughing at Coons when it was her ignorance they were laughing at.]
With such ill-suited candidates exhibiting a string of gaffes, we have the results of the New York Times Poll explaining preference of a large segment of the nation's voters for such candidates as those described and others such as senatorial aspirants Rand Paul in Kentucky and Joe Miller in Alaska as embodiments of arguably the silliest national campaign season on record.
One would expect that voters preferring such Tea Party candidates who lock horns with the traditional system would at least share a consistency regarding President Obama. It would be expected that such voters would hold Obama primarily responsible for America's current economic malaise.
But this was not the case. Instead the rebelling voters, a significant number of those seeking fundamental change who have been resonating to the messages of Tea Party candidates, believe that the nation's economic malaise is the fault of George W. Bush! [The problem with Obama is that he did not fix things fast enough to suit them.]
If this is the case then why prefer Republicans? If they, as Obama put it, drove America's economy into the ditch, then why vote for them now? Especially since these voters expressed the belief that the country's economic woes will diminish and prosperity will begin to return during the final two years of Obama's first term. This is NOT the angry message that emanates from Tea Party meetings, with their shouts about lack of confidence in Obama's leadership.
Then why vote Republican? The answer is [drum roll, please] they think that the Republicans will be more likely to create jobs. [Never mind that Obama is on track during his first two years to create more jobs than in Bush’s entire eight years.]
President Bush had only 2.3% job growth his entire eights years in office. Go here to see a chart showing previous presidents' job record.
Following this rocky 'thinking' becomes more cumbersome at each turn. What did the man who will become senate majority leader in the event of Republican victory on Tuesday say about the goal of the next two years should his party take control of Congress? Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky declared that the goal of a Republican congressional majority is to see that Obama is a one term president, in other words a seek and destroy mission rather than one focused on joint action in the interest of building a better America [there will be no focus on building jobs for Americans]. And Rep. John Boehner, Republican leader in the House, says that they will refuse to compromise with Democrats on anything.
As for programs, we know the two-pronged strategy of Republicans:
• One goal involves restoring the Bush tax cuts, putting more money into the hands of those who do not need it as a means of "stimulating" economic activity.
• The second goal is to repeal Obama's healthcare law. This will put the monopolistic healthcare lobby back in charge in the same way that Bush's prescription drug legislation placed power in the hands of the monopolistic prescription drug industry. [Of course, this is all bluster, because they know that Democratic filibuster and the presidential veto will stop any attempt at repeal.]
This is the kind of "consensus" that these voters, according to the New York Times Poll, believe will function to insure the best result for America.
The answer for them, after acknowledging that Bush is to blame for America's current economic ills, is to put the proponents of Bush-o-nomics back in charge to fix our problems by reenacting policies that put America in this mess in the first place. They want to put the fox back in the hen house!
This cannot be called rational reasoning. It’s irrational. It is not reason.
Written by William Hare, Voter Schizophrenia, for Seattle Times (with a few edits, added comments, added charts by me)
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Wall Street Journal