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It Was Republican Policies, Stupid

The problem with political reporters is they know so little about politics. Even the smart ones. Ron Brownstein writes:

If Obama is shrewd enough, there's a lesson for the new president in the failure of the old one. Bush and his chief political strategist, Karl Rove, dreamed of cementing a lasting Republican electoral majority. Instead, Bush has left his party in rubble.

The 2008 election represented a final grade on Bush's bruising and polarizing political strategy. . . . His legislative strategy centered on minimizing dissent among congressional Republicans; his electoral strategy revolved around maximizing his vote among Republicans and conservative independents. Through Bush's first term, that approach generated undeniable successes. . . . But through Bush's second term, this insular strategy grew unsustainable. By targeting so many of his policies toward the priorities of his conservative base, Bush ignited volcanic opposition from Democratic voters and steadily alienated independents.

This analysis is simply and undeniably wrong. How Bush got his policies through is not what has caused the Republican electoral debacle. It was the performance of his Republican policies. If Bush's policies had been successful, Republicans would be expanding their majorities TODAY. It is ironic that political reporters never can accept that elections are judgments on the efficacy of the policies of the governing party, not the process by which policies are enacted. More . . .

Bill Clinton explained this very clearly:

Look at the example the Republicans have set: American workers have given us consistently rising productivity. They've worked harder and produced more. What did they get in return? Declining wages, less than as many new jobs as in the previous eight years, smaller health care and pension benefits, rising poverty and the biggest increase in income inequality since the 1920s. American families by the millions are struggling with soaring health care costs and declining coverage. I will never forget the parents of children with autism and other severe conditions who told me on the campaign trail that they couldn't afford health care and couldn't qualify their kids for Medicaid unless they quit work or got a divorce. Are these the family values the Republicans are so proud of? What about the military families pushed to the breaking point by unprecedented multiple deployments? What about the assault on science and the defense of torture? What about the war on unions and the unlimited favors for the well connected? What about Katrina and cronyism?

America can do better than that. And Barack Obama will. But first we have to elect him.

The choice is clear. The Republicans will nominate a good man who served our country heroically and suffered terribly in Vietnam. He loves our country every bit as much as we all do. As a Senator, he has shown his independence on several issues. But on the two great questions of this election, how to rebuild the American Dream and how to restore America's leadership in the world, he still embraces the extreme philosophy which has defined his party for more than 25 years, a philosophy we never had a real chance to see in action until 2001, when the Republicans finally gained control of both the White House and Congress. Then we saw what would happen to America if the policies they had talked about for decades were implemented.

They took us from record surpluses to an exploding national debt; from over 22 million new jobs down to 5 million; from an increase in working family incomes of $7,500 to a decline of more than $2,000; from almost 8 million Americans moving out of poverty to more than 5 and a half million falling into poverty - and millions more losing their health insurance.

Now, in spite of all the evidence, their candidate is promising more of the same: More tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that will swell the deficit, increase inequality, and weaken the economy. More band-aids for health care that will enrich insurance companies, impoverish families and increase the number of uninsured. More going it alone in the world, instead of building the shared responsibilities and shared opportunities necessary to advance our security and restore our influence.

They actually want us to reward them for the last eight years by giving them four more. Let's send them a message that will echo from the Rockies all across America: Thanks, but no thanks. In this case, the third time is not the charm.

Bill Clinton explained in 2 minutes why Democrats took the White House and the Congress in the last 2 elections. Political reporters seem incapable of understanding this most simple point. Let's hope Obama understands that the how is not what matters, it is the what. His policies must succeed if he wants to succeed politically. How he enacts his policies will have no effect on his political success.

By Big Ten Democrat, speaking for me only

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  • Display: Sort:
    Neither process nor policies. . . (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 08:48:15 AM EST
    It is ironic that political reporters never can accept that elections are judgments on the efficacy of the policies of the governing party, not the process by which policies are enacted.

    The key word is "efficacy".  What people really care about are the results of policies and the processes that get them done.

    For instance, Obama needs to work on the issue of jobs.  If he wants the most public support he'll stress his goal -- so-and-so many new jobs, or whatever the goal is.  Don't emphasize exactly what the policy is (direct government hiring as part of a stimulus package, tax credits for new hires in the private sector) just "I am committed to accomplishing the goal of XYZ new jobs".  And don't emphasize the process by which the policies will be passed.  Just the results.

    That said, it is true that Republicans have been very successful at getting people to care more about the abstract policy than the concrete results.  This is at the heart of the "What's The Matter With Kansas" argument -- why do (mostly Republicans) vote against their interests?

    Exuse me, yes policies (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 08:56:35 AM EST
    The efficacy of the POLICIES, not the efficacy (from the Broderite Unity Schtcik view) of the PROCESS that matters.

    No voter gives a flying F--- about the process.

    Parent

    No disagreement. (5.00 / 0) (#5)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 09:05:39 AM EST
    I don't think voters care very much about the process, but I also think they don't care too much about the details of the policies either.  They mostly care about what they're going to get.

    The political result is that the winning party -- especially a big win like this -- gets the "right" to use whatever policies they want in order to accomplish the goals the voters want.  In the next election, if the goals are accomplished, the voters wont care too much about how they were accomplished.

    I don't think voters were deciding directly on Obama's $3,000 new hire business tax credit -- just that they believed there'd be more jobs under Obama.

    Parent

    Which means, by the way. . . (5.00 / 4) (#10)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 09:37:28 AM EST
    that I think an electoral victory means that Obama is entitled to implement even policies he didn't run on (that is, liberal policies) to accomplish the goals he ran on.  The "mandate" is broader than the campaign.

    I'd hate to think we were limited only to the relatively timid policy proposals Obama made during the campaign.  Where would we be if FDR had believed that?

    Parent

    brownie is undeniably right (none / 0) (#17)
    by Salo on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 10:50:43 AM EST
    and you should know bettersir. The press still run this polity and don't you forget it

    Parent
    People define what (none / 0) (#3)
    by Fabian on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 08:56:03 AM EST
    their "interests" are.

    The early feeler polls during election season look for name recognition and which issues are important to voters.  Some people really do think that opposing abortion and gay marriage is more important than a collapsing economy.  

    My favorite question/answer on the FL exit poll was people who thought that terrorism was the most pressing issue that the nation faced.

    Unfortunately, if the economy hadn't had a major crisis or three, it wouldn't have topped most people's lists.  Wonder what the EPs looked like in 2000?

    Parent

    Running on the abstract (none / 0) (#12)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 09:43:10 AM EST
    Man, you absolutely hit the nail right on the head, in a way I hadn't look at it before:

    "Republicans have been very successful at getting people to care more about the abstract policy than the concrete results"

    Parent

    Plato v aristotle (none / 0) (#19)
    by Salo on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 10:54:01 AM EST
    Strauss v Keynes

    Parent
    Did Strauss actually care about the (none / 0) (#32)
    by ThatOneVoter on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 12:06:15 PM EST
    abstract, though? I thought that his interest was in how you would fool the masses.

    Parent
    that would be my point (none / 0) (#33)
    by Salo on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 12:09:33 PM EST
    LOL

    Parent
    I figured. (none / 0) (#34)
    by ThatOneVoter on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 12:10:55 PM EST
    Political reporters, like Brownstien ... (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by Robot Porter on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 10:59:22 AM EST
    aren't only stupid.  (They are that.)  But in comments like the one you quoted above it's clear that their selling their agenda.

    A center right agenda is the one that they feel serves them most effectively.

    The MSM has just become another special interest group with all the failings of such groups.

    They want us to believe that they are champions of the realpolitik, but they're really just fighting for their own piece of the pie.


    It was BECAUSE it was explained by Bill (5.00 / 4) (#46)
    by blogtopus on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 04:11:22 PM EST
    that they choose to ignore it. Bill could save a hundred orphans from a burning building and the CDS idiots would credit the GOP who called the police to complain about a bunch of noisy kids screaming in the building next door.

    And Bill would be called (none / 0) (#47)
    by Cream City on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 04:17:42 PM EST
    a child molester.  Gotta have the prurient angle -- it's part of the roolz re the Clintons.

    Parent
    oddly enough, (5.00 / 2) (#48)
    by cpinva on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 04:53:45 PM EST
    he got results, in his 8 years in the white house, in spite of an adversarial congress for most of it.

    Dims need results other than clintonesque gasbag conferences for the really really really crowd, AND
    we need message like we've never had.

    i'll take a clinton gasbag over bush/mccain, etc. any day of the week, and twice on sunday. that "gasbag" reduced the national debt, had a net increase in jobs, didn't start any wars, produced budget surpluses and, oh yeah, got a bj.

    that bj turned out to be the single most important event of his two terms in office, according to those insightful whizbangs of the MSM. of course, they don't have to worry about health care costs, they have great insurance, and get paid millions. none of them are in the military, getting shot at for a pittance in afghanistan or iraq.

    not to put too fine a point on this... (1.00 / 1) (#15)
    by mw on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 10:23:51 AM EST
    but I recall thinking this the first time I heard Clinton give this speech and wondered about it. Since you brought it up again - this is the quote I wonder about:

    "American workers have given us consistently rising productivity. They've worked harder and produced more. What did they get in return? Declining wages, less than ¼ as many new jobs as in the previous eight years" - Bill

    Is not "productivity" simply a formula measuring work or output divided by number of workers or wages? So, "declining wages and fewer new jobs" while work output increases or stays the same, is basically the definition of productivity increases. It is saying exactly the same thing - a tautology.

    It is like saying" "Sure we are getting more miles/gallon in the car, but look - the problem is now we are not using as much gasoline!"

    Just sayin...

    It may be tautology (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by airwon on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 10:46:09 AM EST
    but Bill puts in human and real life terms.  He is asking, who is the increase in productivity helping in the real world?

    Parent
    Not a tautology . . . (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by wurman on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:18:53 AM EST
    . . . if fewer workers manage to produce as much stuff, then that requires more production from each worker.  In actuality, fewer workers produced more stuff over the past 8 years.  The productivity gains were quite real.

    Some Bu$hInc kewl-ade drinkers assert that the greater productivity, even in a declining jobs environment, resulted from better or wiser management that grew out of automation, new or improved tooling, more efficient methods, etc.  None of this is supported by evidence of greater capitalization or reportedly improved management processes--but the storyline fits their economic & financial pre-conceived notions.

    A good example is transportation.  The infrastructures of roads, bridges, railroad trackage, seaports, & rolling stock have been ignored & let deteriorate to an astonishing all-time low (not just lack of new capital, but even a lack of routine maintenance).  Even so, the ports handle more containers, the trucks & trains move more goods (with fewer accidents & incidents) far more quickly than ever.  FedEx, UPS, & DHL make amazing gains.  Yet real income per worker actually declines.

    One of the major elements of this has been to change employees from hourly wages to either piecework (i.e., mileage, tonnage, or item count) or to weekly / bi-weekly / monthly salaries.  In a way, I guess, that is "smarter" managment--especially when the workers know they can't win a hearing from Bu$hInc's NLRB.

    Parent

    Productivity is simply the measurement of (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by ding7777 on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:46:33 AM EST
    "output per man-hour" (increase and/or decrease)

    Think of Henry Ford.  Ford increased productivity and still increased wages and shortened the work week and increased number of workers employed.

    Parent

    Bill is not necassarily saying (none / 0) (#20)
    by airwon on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 10:56:52 AM EST
    lets have less productivity.  He is saying how do we increase productivity while also increasing the quality of life for the producers.

    Parent
    I think BC also saying (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 01:58:14 PM EST
    that if a worker produces more per hour, is he/she not entitled to some reasonable increase in wages -- or should the profits go only to the executives?

    Parent
    Ok. (none / 0) (#25)
    by mw on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:18:25 AM EST
    I accept that.

    But the way he said it makes no sense.

    More to the point - when BTD holds that up as an example of clear policy explanation in contrast to "stupid" msm reportage of Republican policies...

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Parent

    BTD is not the only (5.00 / 5) (#35)
    by airwon on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 12:12:31 PM EST
    person who, imho, fairly recognizes Bill Clinton's ability to identify and communicate to the electorate the differences in policy.  Here Krugman's response to Bill's convention speech:
    My first reaction to Bill Clinton's convention speech was sheer professional jealousy: nobody, but nobody, has his ability to translate economic wonkery into plain, forceful English. In effect, Mr. Clinton provided an executive summary of the new Census report on income, poverty and health insurance -- but he did it so eloquently, so seamlessly, that there was no sense that he was giving his audience a lecture.

    Krugman

    Parent
    perhaps he should write (none / 0) (#36)
    by Salo on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 01:13:47 PM EST
    speecches on the economy for Obama...

    Parent
    He did. That was it. (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by oldpro on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 03:12:02 PM EST
    NeoClassical Economics (none / 0) (#49)
    by DaleA on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 07:11:43 PM EST
    In the received and accepted version of NeoClassical Economics, the idea is that an efficient market sorts and assigns gains in productivity in a fair fashion. Any increase in labor productivity will have a corresponding increase in wages. If that does not happen, labor is 'exploited' in the technical sense. Even if the increase is the result of new machinary, labor still earns a part of the increase. When the oligarchs can rig things so that workers do not share in the results of productivity increase, they earn a 'rent'. J S Mill wrote about this extensively. Seems like the whole free market shtick is simply a way of rent seeking.

    Parent
    yup. Personality over Policies. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Fabian on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 08:50:22 AM EST
    Darn it, BTD, do you actually expect them to do real work analyzing policy decisions and making all that wonkery interesting to the average reader?

    Much easier to go the Paris Hilton/Sarah Palin route and talk about personalities instead.  Plus that way your readers won't expect you to dissect the next administration's policies either.

    Except at FOX (none / 0) (#6)
    by Xclusionary Rule 4ever on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 09:08:50 AM EST
    political reporters never can accept that elections are judgments on the efficacy of the policies of the governing party,

    I don't know, man, FOX News has not shut up about how the 2000 and 2004 elections were judgments on the efficacy of Bush's policies.  

    Commercial media goes where the ratings are. If they reported on actual policy, not enough of us would watch.  This is why we got Palin-palooza the day after Obama's cogent, serious acceptance speech.

    my only quibble (none / 0) (#7)
    by english teacher on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 09:12:16 AM EST
    is that you seem to expect "even the smart ones" to tell the truth.  they never will.

    So...do we have to redefine (none / 0) (#44)
    by oldpro on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 03:13:39 PM EST
    the word 'smart?'

    Parent
    You are so right BTD (none / 0) (#8)
    by airwon on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 09:20:29 AM EST
    Does anyone think that Obama would have gotten the convincing win if we were having success in Iraq/Afghanistan and if the economy was flourishing?

    It was McCain's burden to convince the American people that a conservative policy approach would succeed despite the apparent failure of Bush's conservative approach. McCain wasn't creative enough to offer a conservative policy choice that people could believe would solve America's problems.

    Let's not make the mistake (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 09:40:41 AM EST
    of pronouncing on what "the American people" as a whole want on the basis of an election won by 6 percentage points.  IOW, we forget at our peril the fact that almost half the voters did buy McCain's line and rejected Obama's, despite the obvious failure of conservative policies in action.

    That's a problem.

    In our winner-take-all elections, a swing of just few percentage points decides who gets power, but it's a mistake to think any more than that relatively small number of people actually changed their minds about much of anything.

    Parent

    Yes, your point is taken (none / 0) (#13)
    by airwon on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 09:48:28 AM EST
    I was using the phrase "American people" as a figure of speech.  Maybe I should be more accurate and say "enough American people"

    Parent
    Nevertheless (none / 0) (#38)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 01:54:53 PM EST
    more than the 52._% of Americans who voted for Obama want:
    •   Economy fixed, i.e., stock, credit and real estate markets stablizied,
    •   More jobs
    •   Affordable healthcare
    •   Out of Iraq

    etc.

    Parent
    Thug Policies WERE VERY Successful. (none / 0) (#9)
    by seabos84 on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 09:28:17 AM EST
    The thugs NEVER gave a crap about us peee-ons, their policies are MEANT to enslave, enserf and impoverish all of us

    except for their buddies in the top 1/4 %,
    AND
    except for the crumbs the have to sacrifice to bribe their head lackeys and their foot soldiers.

    And the current post-debacle lies? They're just fine tuning the narrative.

    IF the Dim-O-Crats do their typical, decades long, pathetic message incompetence
    AND
    don't make stuff work for us working stiffs,

    the thugs will be successfully blaming Dims for everything wrong, and the thugs will be re-gaining seats in 2010.

    the thugs have provided people with a narrative for decades which is a bunch of lies ... YAWN ... and the Dim-O-Crat response is to trot out really smart people with really big credentials from really important universities with REALLY big Tomes of Truth!! yawn.

    tomes of truth don't work - is that good? or right? or nice? what should be? or what could be?

    NO. but, that is what it is.

    Dims need results other than clintonesque gasbag conferences for the really really really crowd, AND
    we need message like we've never had.

    rmm.

    OK. We need results. (none / 0) (#45)
    by oldpro on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 03:17:29 PM EST
    Follow the numbers and the dollars.  They always tell the tale.

    Parent
    It seems that implementation mattered, too (none / 0) (#14)
    by wurman on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 10:08:25 AM EST
    There was often a sense that people who may have agreed that the "policy" (if you will) of invading Afghanistan to capture or kill Osama bin Laden & destroy al Quaeda, & then the corollary of deposing the Taliban, were so stupidly & foolishly & incompetently attempted that the GOP became the party of repetitive failures.  The lack of capabilities continuously stacked up.

    Another feature seemed to be the sudden & stupid reversal of stated policies.  For example, the comments about Bu$hInc not being interested in "nation building" & then immediately trying to prop up both Afghanistan & Iraq (again, with arrogant incompetence), the procedural whiplash became obvious to independents & non-party voters.

    In those 2 senses (& there are multiple examples of failures & reversals), the "how" may have become somewhat important to voters.  The lame stream media seem to focus on the day-to-day process because that's the way events are reported, almost as if they sequentially "unfold."

    Commenters should be able to back away & describe the policies & help evaluate the effects, the successes & failures, but (as Somerby steadily describes) they're in the tank for Bu$hInc & their corporate masters.

    At least the financial meltdown, stock market collapse, & job loss statistics were sudden enough & so clearly obvious that a significant number of voters actually noticed that "stuff" wasn't really going very well.

    It still ticks me off & disturbs me that John McCain picked up any more than about 35 percent of the vote.  It flummoxes me that citizens of the USA can't figure out what a total fraud the GOP has become, both in stupid policy positions & in disastrous outcomes.

    It's Not Just Stupidity... (none / 0) (#18)
    by santarita on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 10:51:54 AM EST
    Some voted for McCain despite knowing (or at least suspecting) that Republican ideology failed in theory and in practice.  Why the race was as close as it was has to do with stupidity, yes, but also single issue voters who didn't care about ideological failure, people who bought Rush Limbaugh branding of Democrats as weak-kneed, tax and spend "librals".  

    Parent
    Implementation (none / 0) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:11:24 AM EST
    is different from enactment.

    Parent
    Agreed, mostly. (none / 0) (#28)
    by wurman on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:31:52 AM EST
    More often than not, the implementation affects subsequent enactment.  I.e., the law says "here's $80 billion, spend it in Iraq," which may leave other places seriously lacking in funds because congress doesn't approve, agree, or care.

    Or "you screwed up Katrina relief so no more money, and by-the-way don't fix St. Bernard parish," etc.  "Here's $6 billion for Israel, instead of $8 billion, because Bu$h xliii can't get anything done in the Middle East."

    In some ways, it's a feedback loop.  And I think it definitely affects voters & the messages that congress gets from constituents.  My mental hocky puck of a representative flipped position on Iraq after the implementation of the surge.  So, perhaps, it's not an either-or, but more likely a both-and series of situations.

    Parent

    If only life were so simple (none / 0) (#22)
    by SomewhatChunky on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:01:32 AM EST
    It's so easy in the glow of victory to blame the Republicans for everything.

    I'm always amazed by the ability of political pundits (both sides) to explain everything that happens in an economy by the policies of the other side if the results are bad or the policies of their own side if the results are good.  It's naive to think good political analysts are blessed with wonderful ability to both explain the economic past and predict the economic future.  I'd put Clinton in that camp along with all other politicians.  Heck, most studies show even the best economists cannot do that on an ongoing basis!

    I simply don't agree that much of what BTD talks about above is a direct result of Republican policies.  It gives a handful of people in Washington far more credit than they deserve.

    Clinton talks about how the middle class hasn't benefited from increases in productivity.  That conveniently ignores a huge change in the last 15 years - globalization.  We live in a competitive global economy which is not a political policy.  Communications, transportation and computers have dramatically changed the world in which we live.    Both manufacturing and service jobs have and will continue to migrate overseas.   It's a far more competitive world when your architectural plans can be drafted by someone in Poland and sent back via email than it was 10 years ago.   In a high wage country, you need current and ongoing productivity increases simply to stay even.  Will unions be good for that?  In some cases, yes.  Unchecked - I think not.

    My experience dealing with the government bureacracy on a personal level has never changed, no matter who is in charge.   Efficiency is not a word that comes to mind.   I just don't belive the Katrina response would have been that different if it had happened several years earlier under Bill's watch.  The govt learned -- so the next one - yes.  The first one -- no.

    Certainly some if not many policies have been bad. I think it's absurd that a tiny group of financial executives and CEOs have been able to skim so much off the top.  But even if those numbers went to zero, it won't have much affect.  It's a drop in the bucket in our economy.

    BTD says "If Bush's policies had been successful, Republicans would be expanding their majorities TODAY."  I'd agree that if the economy was strong that might be true, though I'd temper that statement with BTD's very insightful analysis of America's changing demographics over the last few days.  But I  don't think Bush, Clinton or Obama has some magic lever which controls the economy hidden in the back of the White House.   I do think Americans in the middle have been disgusted with the PROCESS of the Bush process for some time.  Democrats certainly have and that point has been made repeatedly.  People get that.  People are willing to follow great leaders through tough times and they know things don't always work out.  Poor leaders lose followers.

    I think Brownstein's analysis above is spot on.  If Obama governs like Bush did from the left, it will be bad for the party in the long term.  He's not "the one" and no matter what he does he's not going to be able to fix all of our problems in the next six months.  Americans know that and I think he'll be given lots of slack if he's seen as the President of the US and not the President of the Democrats.  Which doesn't mean he shouldn't be implementing a Democratic agenda - that's what he said he would do and he won.  A center-left government with a strong leader is far more enduring than a polarizing far left one.

    Silly (5.00 / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:10:33 AM EST
    It does not matter what you or I think was the cause - voters hold the governing party responsible.

    that's the way it goes.

    Parent

    I disagree with your statement about (4.66 / 3) (#40)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 02:13:58 PM EST
    government efficiency.  I worked for a federal agency under Clinton; we took on lots of work that would otherwise have been sent out to contractors for lots more money, and when we hired contractors to do work, the hiring was based on competency and usually competitive bidding; and, we held the winning contractors' feet to the fire.  

    One of the many ways Clinton-Gore was able to balance the budget was to identify and get rid of government waste.  Gore was put in charge of this and did a great job -- a fact Clinton has acknowledged many times.  

    And I don't think that the Clinton Administration would have sat by idly on vacation while Katrina drowned; everyone would have been expected to work round the clock until the crisis was addressed.  Polls show that the public now expects government to do things, and there is every indication that the new adaministration under Obama, like the last Dem administration, believes that government should get things done for the country at large, and will apply themselves to doing so.  There will not only be new policies, but a new work ethic as well.    

    This isn't to say that the danger of inefficiency is always present with a large bureaucracy, but if you hire people based on competency and hold them accountable for performance, the bureaucracy can accomplish many things it otherwise does not.

    Sorry if this sounds preachy; take it as passionate.  

    Parent

    Not Silly (none / 0) (#27)
    by SomewhatChunky on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:23:39 AM EST
    I agree with what you said about results.

    But I think Republicans have damaged the "brand" by the way they've governed even more than the results. It takes a long time to fix a brand.  They have lost independents for now.   I grew up in New England.  Use to be lots of moderate Republicans.  The way the party governs is despised there now.

    Democrats have a choice in how they govern.  Process does matter.  I think hard-core partisans miss that.

    Parent

    not so (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by Salo on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:40:08 AM EST
    they gained seats and the whitehouse rather steadily as outlandishly nasty Moros.Katrina broke their streak and only then were their policy failures fully exposed--leading to electoral defeat in 2006

    Parent
    Katrina Was A Real Turning Point... (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by santarita on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:54:56 AM EST
    wasn't it?  That was the end of  the 9/11 - Iraq War "honeymoon" as far as the media was concerned.  After that it became ok for the media to question Bush policies (although they didn't do enough of it, as far as I am concerned.)  And then the floundering on Iraq and the Mark Foley incident made it abundantly apparent that the powers that be needed our attention.  And once our attention got focussed, then the failure of the policies and the arrogant, dictatorial behavior of the ruling party became obvious.

    Parent
    You lost your argument (5.00 / 5) (#37)
    by jar137 on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 01:52:57 PM EST
    when you argue that Clinton would not have responded more effectively to Katrina.  That simply defies belief.  Average Americans would have responded better.  As you watched the coverage on TV the second day with no change, didn't you think you should just get to NOLA to help get those people out of there?  This is not rocket science.  

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    Right - not rocket science (5.00 / 3) (#41)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 02:18:48 PM EST
    to send in government helicopters to airlift people out so they wouldn't drown.  And, why wasn't the Coastguard called in immediately?  Why were civilian and other state volunteers and provisions turned away.  

    Katrina was so poorly handled, that, in my opinion, it was the beginning of the end of public support for the Bush administration.  The MSM, for all else we can say about them, was horrified at what they saw, and did not hold back in much of their reporting.  The disaster and non-response was there for all to see.  The Bush admin never recovered after that and, I believe, its approval ratings started sinking during Katrina never to recover.

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    right (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Salo on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 03:05:36 PM EST
    That particular act of God (the weather) exposed the indolence and 'smuggitude' of a bunch of criminals (GOP human nature) who were hired to work 24/7 to lessen the impact of natural disasters.  

    Parent
    Gee... (none / 0) (#50)
    by DancingOpossum on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 01:04:05 PM EST
    Why the race was as close as it was has to do with stupidity, yes, but also single issue voters who didn't care about ideological failure, people who bought Rush Limbaugh branding of Democrats as weak-kneed, tax and spend "librals".  

    Nothing to do with the fact that maybe a lot of these people actually looked at what Obama was selling and didn't like it? That maybe they didn't trust him, didn't think he was qualified for the job, and didn't like his questionable associations and utter lack of accomplishments or experience?

    No. It had to be stupidity, right? Not one single Obama voter was stupid, of course, and not one voted for him because of a single issue (like race), or because they bought the sexist branding of Palin, or because they believed in vague feel-good platitudes? No, they were all enlightened and brilliant, not like those stupid gullible (possibly racist) hicks who voted for McCain. Right?