When You’ve Got Nothing to Offer – Punt


A recent Ross Douthat’s column entitled “The Party of Julia” provides yet another example of how conservatives will play out this election to win votes for their candidate, Mitt Romney.  It is similar to a legal defense an attorney would take with a client that could possibly do more damage to his cause by taking the witness stand so is instead prevented from testifying on their own behalf.  It’s often a gamble that hope’s the prosecution’s case can be demoralized enough to weaken the presumption of guilt for the defense’s client and thus look for a dismissal because the accused can’t be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Clearly the Republicans have nothing to offer that could convince enough people with short memories that trickle down economics this time around will somehow work, despite it poor track record.  The data is so convincing that such economic policies are a failure that the GOP’s only hope of regaining both Houses of Congress along with the White House is to make Obama and the Democrats look worse than this retread alternative.  Douthat would have his readers believe that the Obama campaign theme of FORWARD  “is a none-too-subtle admission that a look backward at the Obama economic record might be bad news for the president’s re-election prospects.”  In actually it’s contrasting the direction Obama will continue with as opposed to the opposite direction the Romney campaign will take the country


The thrust of Douthat’s efforts however, in line with conservative bloggers and pundits across the nation, is currently focused on the the Obama/Biden campaign slide show, The Life Of Julia.   This animated narrative shows how federal funded programs can help people who either cannot engage in the free markets, like children and many of the elderly, or who can but the free markets have not provided adequate jobs or compensation for services to take advantage of the system that opens opportunities up to those who have the financial means.

“All propaganda invites snark and parody, and the story of Julia is ripe for it” Douthat tells us.

 She’s an everywoman only by the standards of the liberal upper middle class: She works as a Web designer, has her first child in her early 30s (the average first-time American mother is in her mid-20s), and spends her golden years as a “volunteer at a community garden.” (It will not surprise you to learn that the cartoon Julia looks Caucasian.)

Based on that last comment in parenthesis it’s not clear here if Douthat is trying to suggest that Obama’s revealing something the GOP has overlooked – that white, professional, thirty something single moms are also in need of some assistance from the failed promises of free markets – or, if he is suggesting that only minorities with dark skin fit the profile portrayed in this slide show.  The latter perspective would go against the radical conservative argument that the Democrats and liberals are all too willing to use the race card.  It seems Douthat is doing the race-baiting here.

Poor divorced mothers need help to survive the end of a marriage


Douthat then seems surprised that the imaginary Julia has “no meaningful relationships apart from her bond with the Obama White House: no friends or siblings or extended family, no husband”, even though she has given birth to a child.  Only a conservative would presume that such a demographic is either unlikely or not significant in numbers.  A quick look at the stats show that more women are remaining single rather than getting married,  that half of all marriages wound up in divorce these days with better than 85% of women still under the age of 30 and that the birth rate for unmarried women is 50.5 births per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15-44 years.

These numbers are staggering even when you realize that a lot of the women with children will either get married or remarry.  But that period of time may be too long to subsist for a woman who either has no family to help her get by or whose family also falls below the poverty level and can offer her no real relief from her plight.  Yes Ross, such a demographic does exist.


Douthat goes on like this a bit and then tries to defend a notion that omits modern day realities.

The liberalism of “the Life of Julia” doesn’t envision government spending the way an older liberalism did — as a backstop for otherwise self-sufficient working families, providing insurance against job loss, decrepitude and catastrophic illness. It offers a more sweeping vision of government’s place in society, in which the individual depends on the state at every stage of life, and no decision — personal, educational, entrepreneurial, sexual — can be contemplated without the promise that it will be somehow subsidized by Washington.

To my knowledge I don’t think there has been a change in how liberals view federally funded social programs from what they did 30-40 years ago.  Douthat’s premise is a red-herring, but it does expose an element that appears to go completely over the head of the conservative columnist.  If it appears to conservatives that there is an attempt by liberals to establish a government “in which the individual depends on the state at every stage of life”  they might want to reflect on the economic realties of today that could possibly explain why this may have some merit.

The policies of the GOP over the last thirty years have hurt the vibrant middle class in this country.  They have supported the outsourcing of jobs, shifted the tax burden away from the wealthiest 1% and they have done nothing to stymie the increasing cost of health care.  Under these extraordinary dire economic circumstances they have fought against extending unemployment benefits and worked to kill legislation aimed at creating the type of jobs that will address our future energy problems.  They have removed the regulatory safeguards that are intended to prevent the great recession we fell victim to in 2008 and are still unwilling to implement these necessary safeguards in the face of this deficiency.

To pour salt into the wound the GOP House recently took action that would renege on their promise last year as part of a resolution to the debt-ceiling crisis.

Republicans had already agreed to $109 billion a year in automatic spending cuts — half from defense, half from the domestic side — if lawmakers failed to agree to lower the deficit in more reasonable ways such as mixing targeted cuts with tax increases on the rich. Even Democrats who supported big defense cuts wanted them chosen carefully, not with the sequester’s cleaver. But Republicans refused to take that path when the supercommittee deliberated and now are trying to make all of the cuts on the domestic side.

In just one particularly destructive example, the bill would eliminate the social services block grant, a $1.7 billion fund that is given to the states to help people struggling the hardest. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the fund provides services to 23 million people, including Meals on Wheels and other programs that help older Americans. It also helps pay for child care assistance, foster care and juvenile justice at a time when states are cutting back these programs.  SOURCE  

They have no plan other than “to make Obama a one-term president” and continue to hope that the voter will be distracted by their demonization of Obama’s policies enough to forget that it was their policies that created a world wide economic catastrophe.  What does that say about the conservative message when all of their hopes for regaining power focuses on their negative images of Obama with little to nothing to say in a positive fashion for their own candidate?


8 responses to “When You’ve Got Nothing to Offer – Punt

  1. This is why I hate politics. Such much deception to protect the people from what is wrong for them as decided by a few people who say they know so much better.

    • It’s worse than it perhaps has ever been Donna and so say Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein in their book It’s Even Worse Than it Looks

      From the book:

      “In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

      The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

      When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.”

  2. More and more the Republican party seems to flaunt it’s Randian philosophy that the fittest shall control all, and the rest shall toil in the factories or simply die. I cannot understand how anyone cannot see the flaws in the theories when we have seen just how much damage is done when these theories are implemented: ie bush tax cuts. They continue to believe we are in some early American landscape where if you can’t make it in Boston, just go west young man and make your own success. I fear that we are on the brink of destruction if the middle and working classes do not wake up and throw the bums out and recapture this country.

    • ” I cannot understand how anyone cannot see the flaws in the theories when we have seen just how much damage is done when these theories are implemented”

      This persist I think Sherry because the GOP has been so affective with their misinformation and messaging that Democrats and liberals are aligned with “socialist, Muslims and Satan”; a message that prevents most people to even consider what the reality is. Doesn’t speak well to our electorate does it?

  3. Larry, as usual a great post. I keep watching the GOP and its crap and I think it is doomed as a party and they can blame no one but themselves…….

    On a side note….the graph about unwed mothers…..well my state leads the nation especially among teens and abstinence is the favored teaching….some one is not listening, huh?

    • Poor Mississippi, in both financial and mental conditions. You’re like me in Texas Dr. Chuq. We’re pitted against an insurmountable wall but it’s better than lying down and doing nothing

      • So true….but my attempts at bring knowledge to the voter has been at best an exercise in futility…..can’t fix stupid!

  4. This is expected in a two party system. More and more, all you have to do to win is not be the Other Guy.

    Democrats say, “We ain’t done jack for you, Progressives. But stick with us because the other guy is worse.”

    Republicans say, “Our policies hurt you, but at least we’re not Muslim, socialist, anti-American, Negroes!”

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