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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Republicans have exactly one message — and they’re losing the argument over it

Chris Cillizza, The Fix:

For the past several years, congressional Republicans have focused relentlessly on a single message: Washington — led by President Obama — is spending too much money, and it needs to stop.

But according to new Washington Post-ABC News polling, that laser-like focus isn’t helping Republicans win the argument over federal spending — with 67 percent of those tested disapproving of the “way Republicans in Congress are handling federal spending.”

While Obama’s numbers aren’t stellar on that same spending question — 52 percent disapproval — he is in considerably stronger shape than his Republican adversaries as Washington braces for the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts known as the sequester to take effect on Friday. In fact, Obama’s 43 percent overall approval on his handling of federal spending is the same number as those who strongly disapprove of how congressional Republicans are handling it.

And it turns out that the biggest hit GOP numbers take is not from indies, but from their own party’s internal divisions.

“Forty-four percent of self-identified Republicans approve of how their side is handling spending issues, while 51 percent disapprove,” according to the report. “Even the base of the party is less than enthusiastic about how the congressional GOP has approached the issue — with 50 percent of conservative Republicans approving and 49 percent disapproving. Compare that to the nearly nine in ten (87 percent) of liberal Democrats who approve of how Obama has handled federal spending.”

I think what might be happening there is that the GOP’s message runs counter to reality. They argue over and over that spending can be slashed  pretty much without consequence, so the base demands these painless cuts. Then reality sets in, Republicans propose cuts that aren’t painless at all, and the base is up in arms. “Where are these painless spending cuts? You were supposed to cut the ‘freeloaders’ benefits and programs, not mine!”

So Republicans can’t get anything done, after years and years of warning that The End is Near and that we need to repent our spending ways. The base bought the BS, hook, line, and sinker, and now they’re terrified that the US is about to go all Greek economy on them and the Republicans — who promised to save them — are doing nothing.

Republicans are like characters from Joyce’s Dubliners, except their paralysis comes without any epiphany at all. They’re just as dumb as they were before, but they can’t do anything about it.

[photo via Voices Empower with Alice Linahan]

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