How the 2012 Election is a Re-play of the 1996 Election

The 2012 Presidential election is a replay of the 1996 presidential election.  In both elections, the Republicans ran to lose.   The Republicans, very simply, wanted to lose in 1996, and want to lose in 2012, because they know that they could and can get more from weak Democrats than they could ever get from a Republican president.  The GOP has too much money, and so much talent to avail itself of, that it just doesn’t make mistakes like Clint Eastwood’s semi-senile performance.

It’s like this.  Immediately after a Democrat gets elected President, the right wing is filled with manic hatred.  They assert, of course, that the President is a Socialist, who will destroy America, who has been hen-pecked by his dominatrix wife.  The allegedly liberal media plays right along.  The same thing happened to both Clinton and Obama and to a large extent JFK as well.  (It didn’t happen to LBJ, but he gave the right the Vietnam War)  Both Clinton and Obama are creamed in the midterm elections.  The right wing becomes more and more outrageous in its demands and, as a result, everything the Democratic President does, no matter how centrist, easy or commonsensical, is characterized as bold, progressive politics by the President’s supporters.  And so when in 2011 the Republicans spoke of slashing the budget by more than a trillion dollars, President Obama offered something less Draconian:  He would only take a few hundred billion from Medicare and Medicaid.  As Margaret Thatcher said of Gorbachev, Obama is someone the Republicans “can do business with.”   While Obama and the GOP seemed to be entangled in intractable fisticuffs, they both are working according to the PLAN, the gradual evisceration of the social welfare state and a regression to the days of William Mc Kinley.

In Clinton, we have a man who presided over the decision not to regulate Wall Street derivatives and to repeal Glass-Steagall.  The list is long.  He did things that Reagan could only dream about.  Wall Street knew a good friend when he came along, and the powers that be (I know it is considered a sign of bad intellectual breeding to believe in conspiracies but to hell with it) decided that Dole would be the GOP’s chump to dump on.  Loyal Republican that he was, Bob Dole played his part.  Although he was known for biting sarcasm (He called George Mc Govern the “Triple A candidate,” allegedly supportive of amnesty, abortion and acid), he evinced the  verbal fluency of an ape in 1996.  Sometimes, because he could think of nothing to say, he simply repeated the same thing four or five times, saying, at campaign rallies, in four consecutive shouts, that he would cut everyone’s taxes by fifteen percent.  Sometimes, he just seemed downright stupid.

Obama, like Clinton, has been a  crypto conservative.  Although he helped save the banks, he never demanded that they lend to businesses and individuals.  In his unwillingness to help homeowners facing eviction, he is a stalwart defender of the old legal order between creditors and lenders.  And he sold the store on Health Care.  Polls show that in March of 2009, over 70 percent of the population favored a health care plan along the lines of Medicare for All.  Nevertheless, ever anxious to please conservatives, Obama immediately took that option off the table.  Furthermore, he agreed that Medicare will not use its power to bargain for lower prescription drug prices.  It’s not for nothing that in 2008 big pharma gave more to Obama than to Clinton or Mc Cain.  And much of the Right seems very much in his corner in 2012.

During the Republican primaries in 2012, the candidates seemed like extras trying to get a part in “One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest.”  Now we find they pal around with folks who think that when a woman is truly, sincerely raped, she just won’t get pregnant.  Of course, I suppose Romney would have us believe that he isn’t a man of the far right because he once held opposing left wing views and that his ideological oscillation all adds up to moderation.    Romney was a man who never had a chance owing to his exceptional proclivity to re-imagine who he is when he competes in a more conservative venue.  All politicians shimmy and sham and change their minds somewhat, but has anyone ever did it as much as Romney.  And if anyone ever had any doubt that Romney wasn’t playing to win, the Clint Eastwood affair seems absolutely dispositive of the matter.  I simply can’t believe that such rich, talented (There’s no doubt that Romney has a talent for organizing, and I’m sure that his inner circle is flush with men exuding competence), powerful people can make such enormous mistakes.

The upshot of all of this is that the Democrats will have the glory of winning the election, but the Republicans will see their policies, slowly but surely, ingrained into the nation’s nature.  Of course, there is political precedent for this, for making a deal in which one party wins the election while the other party’s policies are implemented.

I refer you to the election of 1876.  It was very close.  It wasn’t clear if either the Republican or Democratic candidate had won.  So they made a deal:  The Republican’s got the glory and pleasure of having their guy “elected” President, and the Democrats got the policy they wanted:  The end of reconstruction.

Since 1876, this has been happening all the time.

David Gottfried, Copyright, 2012


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