Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why The Republicans' Class Warfare Tactics Will Come Back To Haunt Them

There is something comical, even farcical, to the reaction of the oligarchs and their congressional and news media helpmates to the growing Occupy Wall Street protests, which have laid bare the reality that our so-called democratic system is rigged to benefit the wealthiest 1 percent at the sacrifice of the other 99 percent.

The protests will be a failure as a means of ironing out the perversities in the system, which is much too powerful to be pushed back by a bunch of smelly protesters, but they are a huge consciousness raising tool that have begun to drawn in more and more ordinary Americans (as opposed to out of work college graduates) and perhaps the start of a counter-balance to the Tea Party movement and a belated national conservation about how the power elites have come to rule our lives.

The reaction of Washington Post columnist George Will and House majority leader Eric Cantor to the protests is sadly typical.

Will, while not addressing the protests directly, goes off on Elizabeth Warren, the consumer champion and U.S. Senate candidate for Massachusetts, for having the temerity to state that nobody in the U.S. got rich on their own.

Strong stuff, but Warren makes that case by noting that thriving entrepreneurs move their goods on the roads the rest of us paid for, they hire workers that the rest of us paid to educate, and whose factories are protected by police and firefighters also paid for by the rest of us. To which I would add whose financial institutions were bailed out by the rest of us.

Warren has obviously touched a raw nerve and Will yet again finds himself out of touch with contemporary realities -- like an aging pitcher who won't admit that he's lost his stuff and go quietly in the night -- by accusing her of being "a pyromaniac in a field of straw men."

Cantor has joined the chorus in denouncing the Occupy Wall Street "mobs" that have taken over Zuccotti Park in Manhattan and city halls and malls elsewhere, accusing them of . . . are you ready for this? Class warfare.

The House majority leader symbolizes more than any other Republican the moral rot at the heart of today's GOP, and as the Occupy Wall Street protests have spread leading Democratic figures, although not the president himself, are embracing the movement as a way to draw voters angry over a political system that rewards the rich to the party. (Oh, and Ben & Jerry's has announced its support for the protests but it's unclear what flavor that solidarity should come in.)

President Obama has sent up to Capitol Hill a jobs creation bill that by any measure is modest but at least begins to address the major reason that the aftereffects of the Bush Recession linger, but Cantor says he won't even allow the bill to come up for a vote.

Main Street is in deep distress, Wall Street is sipping the champagne of record profits and it still is more important to Cantor and his ilk to be obstructionist than actually help the president govern, a tactical decision that they will come to regret next November 6 when the votes are counted.

This is because while there is anger out there toward Obama, the contrast between the party's stances on helping the middle class, not to mention the poor, elderly and infirm, could not be more striking, and while a lot of us are pissed off even more of us have retained some perspective. And compassion.

At this point Mitt Romney would seem to be the only Republican presidential wannabe capable of taking on Obama and he has crafted a clever stump speech blaming him for the nation's economic woes.

Romney of course fails to mention that it was during the Bush-Cheney interregnum that the wheels came off the cart with tax cuts for the rich while two expensive wars were being fought and the regulation of Wall Street became virtually nonexistent.

Expect Obama to set the record straight early and often, and while avoiding a lurch to the left will endlessly point out the morally indefensible hypocrisy of the Cantors who value economic inequality and profits over people.

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