Sunday, September 9, 2012

The View From the Other Side: 'Anger and Denial' On the 'Wingnut Right'

Here's my previous entry, "A Two-Point Change in the Polls is Not a 'Bounce' — Especially With the Undercover Media Cognoscenti in the Tank."

I'm sure folks might quibble here and there with the analysis, but the fact is the election's been basically deadlocked for months. And while conservatives would love to see Mitt Romney holding a huge lead in the polls, it just ain't happening. What explains this? The country is nearly evenly divided, of course. Barack Obama remains popular among left-leaning voters (who give him the benefit of the doubt) and by reasonably objective indicators the mainstream press has been harder on Mitt Romney than it has on the incumbent (I could cite numerous media attacks on Romney, and untold numbers of underreported negative stories on Obama, but no need, since partisans will believe what they want to believe).

That said, I don't think the much dreaded "wingnut" right of the Republican coalition is inventing conspiracy theories as to why Obama remains competitive. And thus it's infinitely intriguing to see the left's response to John Hinderaker's piece, cited at my essay above, "Why Is This Election Close?" (at Memeorandum). Read the Hinderaker essay before some of the radical responses below. What amazes me is how dramatically divergent are the two sides. And also interesting is the caricatures that progressives use to describe the reviled "wingnuts," that, and the left's cocoon of psychological displacement and self-delusion.

Here's Mark Kleiman, for example, "From Denial to Anger: wingnuts v. the American people":
I’m always happy to see people dealing with reality, even if they do so badly. So it’s good to see a faction of the right-wing commentariat pivot from pretending that Clint Eastwood gave a great speech and the Democrats had a bad convention – while explaining that the polling results showing otherwise are rigged – to trying to figure out why their guy is losing an election they thought was a tap-in, and still think should by rights be a tap-in. They’ve moved on from Denial to Anger.
There are links to both Power Line and National Review at that entry, but again, it's the perception of reality that's striking. So to clarify: Eastwood didn't give a great speech, although he pushed just enough of the right buttons to have a huge impact; the Democrats didn't have a "bad convention," perhaps, but only if one ignores the completely FUBAR voice vote on God and Religion, the lies DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told to deny her party's failures, and the stream of far-left wing activists and party hacks spouting hateful attacks on Republicans with nary a mention of the administration's failed policies. But again, it's all in the perceptions.

Crazy Obama

But checking further around the horn, what do we find?

Well, Booman Tribune's Martin Longman, who I noted yesterday lives truly in an alternative universe, has this, "Stupid Republicans":
It would be hard to exaggerate Assrocket's stupidity. If he believes anything he's saying, he's an idiot. I wonder whether his readers will punish him for being such a bad prognosticator, or not. Anyone who has predicted that not only would Mitt Romney win this election, but win it in convincing fashion, obviously cannot even figure out how to use an Electoral College calculator. Assrocket should know that the Democrats have a solid 247 Electoral College base. And if the Dems don't totally screw things up, they probably will enter the 2016 cycle with a solid base in excess of the 270 Electoral College majority required to win.

It is possible for Mitt Romney to win, but not by more than 291 votes, and that is not a decisive margin. You can look back at 2004 and see that as pretty much the best the modern Republican Party can do.
Stupid is as stupid does, I guess. It's not like Democrats have been winning landslide presidential elections, in recent decades, and that's if the Democrats even won. (And demography is not necessarily destiny, since people can change voting preferences, especially during an economic depression.) All that matters is 270-to-win, in any case, so this blather about how large an electoral vote is meaningless. All Romney has to do is win a few states that Obama took in 2008, especially Ohio and Florida, and things could be over for the Democrats. While Longman can act like an all-knowing political Solon, dissing Republicans as "stupid," President Obama doesn't have the luxury of hubris, and has in fact been shitting bricks according to some reports. (And for the record, keep Booman Tribune in mind if you're thinking about ramming a Republican victory down progressive throats after November 6.)

Now, how about over at No More Mr. Nice Blog, a colleague of Booman, "WHAT REPUBLICANS THINK OF AMERICA":
Verbatim John Hinderaker, from a Power Line post titled "Why Is This Election Close?":
I am afraid the problem in this year's race is economic self-interest: we are perilously close to the point where 50% of our population cares more about the money it gets (or expects to get) from government than about the well-being of the nation as a whole. Throw in a few confused students, pro-abortion fanatics, etc., and you have a Democratic majority.
Shorter Hinderaker:
Hey, American people, we think you're a bunch of leeches, bomb-throwers, and morons. Vote for us!
The mask is really off here: If you look forward to getting Social Security and Medicare benefits, or unemployment benefits if you lose your job, or Pell grants if you want to go to college, you're contemptible. You're not American. Sink-or-swim is the American way.
Oh boy!

Yeah, the mask is really off --- the welfare entitlement state! Steve M. practices the simple caricature I mentioned above. Now we could quibble with Hinderaker's phrasing, but the fact remains that, yes, 50 percent of Americans are receiving income from some kind of federal transfer program, and that fact weighs on the historic tradition of individualism and self-sufficiency in American politics. The question is whether all of those receiving benefits of some sort, especially among those who aren't Social Security retirees, consider this a lifelong dole with little care about returning to gainful employment of some sort. There's certainly no lack of evidence that large numbers of the Democrat base expect long-term welfare handouts, and these slackers in fact lovingly refer to the handouts as "Obama bucks." Other examples abound (remember Peggy Joseph upon the election of "The One"). So let's be honest: The average working wage-earner paying substantial portions of his or her income in taxes has all the right to be concerned about the basic moral "well-being of the nation as a whole" when it comes to hard work and personal responsibility. That's the kind of sweat that built this country, not the ever growing welfare state entitlement dole that Democrats will defend to the death.

Okay, how about over at Barbara "Mahablog" O'Brien, "Obama Pulling Away?":
The Right is genuinely baffled as to why their guy isn’t winning by a mile. Those of you with a morbid fascination with psycho-political pathology might get a kick out of some of their arguments today — see Power Tool John and Andrew McCarthy, for example. It’s beginning to dawn on them that they could lose. They are still hopeful that some reservoir of undecided voters will break to Romney at the last minute, but now they are entering the second-guessing phase. Have they been too “conservative,” or not “conservative” enough?

Although we may never solve the mystery of why Mitt Romney wants to be President, I am getting the impression that he, and much of the rest of the Right, thought this election would be easily winnable. All they had to do was present a candidate who looks like he could play a President on teevee, and all those folks disappointed in President Obama would flock to him. And it isn’t happening. And they are so lost inside their own echo chamber they have no idea why.

What I think is that the Democratic convention reflected what the electorate actually thinks and feels right now, and the Republicans missed that by a mile. The cut taxes/deregulate to create prosperity gag is old, and tired, and no one outside the rightie echo chamber believes it any more. And every local, state, and national candidate for office for the past several election cycles has been promising jobs, jobs, jobs, and the promises don’t cut it. Without a credible, clearly articulated plan, they might as well promise fairy dust and unicorns.
While I can't speak for "every local, state, and national candidate" running for office this year, the fact is that it was President Obama's speech that was hammered by people on the left for being extremely short on specifics and vision. Indeed, far-left blogger Kevin Drum dissed Obama for "phoning it in." And Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker, clearly no friend of the GOP ticket, hammered Obama's speech, noting that "There’s still plenty of time left for Obama to live up to his promise to tell us the truth. Let’s hope we hear a lot more detail in the weeks ahead about what he really means when he implores us 'forward'." So again, it's all about perception, and if Barbara O'Brien wants to attack conservatives as stuck in the echo chamber bubble, she might first step outside herself and draw a deep breath of reality.

Alright, I'm just getting started here! Let's see what Zandar the Stupid's got up his sleeves, "Your Insanity Is Exquisite, Sir":
John Hinderaker's clean break with political reality is so snowflake-intricate, so crystalline perfect in its construction, that part of me feels bad stomping all over the thing like a drunken brontosaurus with a restless leg syndrome having a panic attack during an earthquake. I mean, it takes serious and sustained, considerable effort to build a Fortress of Denial like this, each brick lovingly collected from the fetid swamps of internet bullshit that he resides in, much like Yoda's Dagobah home (only without all the personable rustic charm) and held in the hefty walls by the mortar of utter cluelessness...
Zandar is one of those progressives who virtually speaks a foreign language decipherable almost exclusively to the scummiest dirtbag trolls of the progressive fever swamps. Folks can continue reading Zandar the Stupid at the link. He hasn't debunked Hinderaker so much as pissed on him. And as is the case with political blogging, Zandar eschews any self-reflection as to the weaknesses of his side. As mentioned, Team Obama is worried about reelection. The race is tight and things could still go against the Democrats. All this left-wing victory stomping is badly premature at this point, and exceedingly self-absorbed, as if that needed to be pointed out.

Now, last but not least, check out the diarist "Armando" at Daily Kos, "Wingnuts argue conservatism being failed: by the American People." The post is mostly a cut-and-paste from some of the bloggers I've cited here already, but the kicker is the Ayn Rand theme with the picture of the Objectivist philosopher at the entry. I don't actually hear too many folks on the right quoting Ayn Rand to make the case against Obama. There's been a resurgence of her work, no doubt, and we had some buzz a few years back about people "going Galt," but the fact is veep-nominee Paul Ryan has renounced Rand's theories as atheist and I can't think of a single mainstream Republican who wants to abandon the basic outlines of the safety net as we have it today. What folks like Ryan want to do is put that safety net on sure footing. They want to modernize the American welfare state for a society and post-industrial economy that bear little resemblance to the American economy and demographics of the Great Depression and New Deal. It's the Democrats who are stuck in a time warp. It's the denizens of the fevered leftist redoubts who're in denial about what it's going to take to revitalize the country, put our economy on sound footing, and get people back to work (and off the dole). And on that note, and in detail, don't miss Walter Russell Mead, "Noise vs. Knowledge: America’s Longest Presidential Campaign."

The Democrats offered virtually nothing of substance at the convention in Charlotte. And the president in particular was just going through the motions, giving what many panned as a barely warmed-over State-of-the-Union leftover address.

The progressives used to call themselves "the reality-based community." And some still do, I'm sure. The problem is the left's reality is not the objective reality that people usually refer to when they speak of realistic-based, reality-driven thinking. Is Mitt Romney going to win? Who knows? But he's certainly not out of the ball game, not by a long shot. And by implication, President Obama's not pulling away. I laid out how I felt at my earlier essay on Nate Silver and the purported Democrat convention bounce. My hunch at this point is that Obama has a very good chance to win, but it could be a squeaker, cobbling together just enough of his 2008 electoral coalition to go over the top. And to be really accurate here I'd need to go back and look at the state level data, for example, in Florida (where Obama holds a 1.7 percent lead in the RCP average) and Ohio (where Obama holds a 1.5 percent lead in the RCP average); and we'd have to factor in other things like campaign spending, and GOTV efforts, and voter enthusiasm (see Charlie Cook on the latter, "Obama’s Enthusiasm Deficit Could Soon Haunt Him"). Consider it basically a dead heat. Or at least consider the reality that it could be a dead heat and that Team Obama's freaking out that it's a dead heat, and that "The One" could well be packing his bags for a permanent golf vacation come January.

So there you go. Neither side needs to be over-confident at this point, but if I were a concern troll I'd warn the progressives not to get too cocky.

RELATED: See Jennifer Rubin, "Whistling past the graveyard at the Democratic convention."