Having decided to be against President Obama's $787 stimulus bill more for sheer political mendacity than philosophical reasons, congressional Republicans have dug themselves a hole so deep that they can barely see daylight and their game playing with a nation stricken by a serious case of the recessions is not playing well out on the hustings.
Opinion polls show that a substantial majority of Americans support Obama and the stimulus bill and only a puny minority are with the opposition, and beyond that there is the specter of states with Republican governors, by gosh, facing multi-billion dollar deficits, by golly, with the stimulus money being the only lifeline between here and insolvency.
And so the chest thumping from Republicans on Capitol Hill and intimations from Republican Governors Sanford of South Carolina, Barbour of Mississippi, Jindal of Louisiana and Palin of Alaska, among others, that they won't take any of that dirty stimulus money for their beleaguered citizens have been replaced by mealy mouthed equivocating.
Jindal now says that "We'll have to review each new program. Barbour now says "There may be some things that we'd be better off not to take." Palin now says that she will take stimulus money "on a case-by-case basis."
Senator Lindsay Graham, in a Come to Jesus moment, now says "I think it would be smart for South Carolina to take the money," which may have something to do with the reality that by law most states cannot operate in the red in contrast to the staggering deficit spending binges during the Age of Bush when Republicans ruled the roost.
Meanwhile, many of Graham's colleagues -- yes the selfsame folks who joined in the binging and portrayed the stimulus bill in apocalyptic terms -- are now falling all over themselves to make sure as much dough gets to their states as quickly as possible.
This would all be hilarious if the specter of trillions of dollars lost because of consumer debt, collapsing home prices and weakened capital markets, steadily rising unemployment, millions people losing health insurance and the other effects of the worst recession since the Great Depression wasn't so awful.
The method to the Republicans' madness, of course, has been to bet that by being obstructionist the economy will continue to crap out, the blame eventually will shift from Bush to Obama and the GOP will begin to climb back to power after the 2010 mid-term election.
Not even one week after Obama signed the stimulus bill, it is obvious that the Republicans have lost the opening round of their bet. But this does not mean they won't keep reupping it, and you'd better believe that the obstructionism will continue.
This is because the party and its new national chairman, Michael "Hip Hop" Steele, continue to operation under the delusion that its got a good product but the packaging sucks. Well, I can't speak for the product, but as long as wingnuts are doing the packaging -- and people like the aforementioned governors are considered to represent the future of the party and a token black is leading it -- then the GOP's time in the wilderness is likely to be long indeed.