March 4, 2009

Hoping for failure

Limbaugh seems to have succeeded in making it ok for Republicans (well, not elected officials) to openly hope for Obama's failure. They are doing so based on a tricky little bit of rhetorical fakery as David Neiwert points out here. Liberals did not wish for failure in Iraq. I, for one, remember very clearly how I felt when it was clear that Bush was invading. I hated it with every fiber of my being, but hoped that it would work. I was glad when the surge (or the Sunni Awakening, whichever) led to reduced violence in Iraq, and think that Petraeus deserves a lot of respect for getting to the villages and homes in a positive way. I hoped, I must say, that the lessons learned out of Iraq not be that we should do this again, but I certainly never hoped that we would lose.

The analogy is actually very interesting, in that it would make more sense for Republicans to have said that they hoped the stimulus bill would fail in Congress. But now that it has passed, they are hoping that it fails to help the economy? They are much closer to wishing economic disaster on the country for political purposes than liberals ever came close to wishing for failure in war.

And, btw, just so we don't lose sight of the facts, when Democrats criticized the Bush plan, they were called traitors and unamerican by the same idiots who got up at CPAC to wish for failure and insurgency.

I keep saying this, but it is still true. There are a lot of grownup Republicans out there, and it is time for them to wrest their party back from the racists, hatemongers, and frankly stupid people who now run it. Those grownup Republicans watched in horror as a racist drug addict forced the newly elected African American head of the RNC to bow and scrape. It is sickening to watch.


steves said...

I heard Limbaugh trying to explain that his desire for failure was based on that he thought the programs were harmful. If he would have said this from the beginning, I would have thought it was reasonable. I don't see anything wrong with disagreeing with a specific program or policy, but I also heard his original comments and it sounds more like he is just trying to dig himself out of a hole. It just seems too little too late.

The comparison to liberals and the Iraq War is a good one that I am sure will be lost on some conservatives. I think there are some really bad aspects to the Stimulus Plan (such as a lack of banking oversight), but it would seem to be more productive to point those out, then to just offer blanket opposition.

Streak said...

Well, when you also hear other conservatives say that it is their duty to make sure that Obama's economic plan fails, it makes you wonder. Switch Obama with Bush, conservative with liberal, and economic with war. Liberals comparing themselves to the Taliban to stop Bush, for example, and you would have seen Conservative talking heads explode, and conservatives in Congress pushing for some kind of investigation and possible incarceration. I think we all remember the flood of books by the idiots calling us Traitors, Treason, or other ways calling us bad for America.

LB said...

Streak, undoubtedly some conservatives went off the deep end declaring that people wo were against the war were unamerican.

I have to disagree when you say that liberals did not hope the war in Iraq would fail.

The reality of the 2004 presidential election is that it was basically a referendum on the war in Iraq. Success meant re-election for Bush. Failure meant Kerry would win. I think we are kidding ourselves if we didn't think that at least some on the left didn't wish for failure.

Perhaps the language used was different than failure. However, a desire to simply withdraw without stabilizing the country would have constituted failure in Iraq. That was certainly what many liberals called for from roughly 2004-2006.

As for Limbaugh, I don't understand why everyone is making such a big deal about him wanting Obama to fail. Limbaugh obviously disagrees almost across the board with Obama. Would we want Limbaugh to say that we hope Obama suceeds? Wouldn't that mean Limbaugh is betraying his own values and beliefs?

For the above reasons, I haven't paid much attention to this Limbaugh wants Obama to fail story, so I haven't followed it from the beginning. But I never thought he meant anything other than wanting Obama's policies to fail. So I would disagree with those who say that Limbaugh is backtracking. Again, I haven't followed the story, so I don't know all the full quotes.

That said Limbaugh annoys me. He's really immature on his show and no one can ever get a reasonable word in with him.

Streak said...

I understand your point, LB, but I just don't agree. Not only did many Liberals support the war in the beginning (certainly not me) but after the war started, not only was there no hint of "we hope this fails" but there was concern that Bush was going to let it fail by not sending enough troops. Liberals beseeched Bush to send enough to secure the country, and then called on him to fire Rumsfeld. Not because they wanted the Iraq war to fail, but because they believed (and with good reason) that Bush was stubbornly sticking with Rumsfeld out of spite, regardless of how many Americans (and Iraqis) died. In fact that was the very reason that Bush refused to fire Rumsfeld until 2006.

With all due respect, I think you have the referendum reversed. It was not--if the Iraq war succeeds, Bush wins. It could not have been, because the war was going horrible in 2004 and only got worse until 2006-2007. Liberals believed that we had to get some better leadership in there. Those who called for withdrawal (I certainly can't speak for every one) did so because they thought he war was already lost, and each successive month there meant more people dying on either side for a failure.

And even those criticisms of policy brought out claims that liberals were Unamerican and even traitorous. When we raised bloody hell over the treatment of returning wounded at Walter Reed, or protested plans to reduce funding for research into the type of brain injuries common in this war, we were still "against the troops."

Set Rush aside. I don't necessarily disagree with you, though his claim that Republicans shouldn't even try to come up with better ideas reflects the kind of anti-intellectualism in the conservative camp right now. But consider Pete Sessions comparing his opposition to the Taliban, or Sean Hannity calling for a resistance, or people saying not that they think the stimulus will fail, but that they should work hard to Make it fail.

Reverse any of those to Bush's war policy, and tell me that we are not called traitors from the Senate floor.

steves said...

At the insistence of some, I listened to more sections of Limbaugh's speech. I won't say I am that impressed, but I do think some of his comments are being taken out of context. Many bloggers are focusing in his comments in regards to "ideas." I watched a longer excerpt and I don't think his point was that conservatives should ignore policy, but rather if they wanted to win, they had to focus on ideology and broader concepts.

In this specific area, he is right (and I am not happy to admit this). Obama had some great policy ideas, but his campaign spent a great deal of time talking about ideology and broader concepts, like change, justice and peace. I think it helped him win and get to the place where he could implement his policies.

I still don't think that Rush is what conservatives need right now, but I also think that we need to be honest in our critiques.

Streak said...

you are not going to find much sympathy from me regarding Rush. I recall feeling bad for him when I heard he was going deaf. SOF and I both expressed that about him. Then we find out it was due to his Oxycontin addiction--and what is more, he has proven himself completely incapable of anything approaching compassion for anyone. Mocking a Parkinson's victim, saying that feminism was created for unattractive women, and now openly hoping that the President fails.

And let's not forget the use of homophobic and racist language on a regular basis. I believe he just referred to one of the White House reporters as a "butt boy," because he is somehow not as critical of Obama as Rush wants.

Rush is a smarter version of JTP--or as Leighton called him, a media whore. I am not going to take him or his ideas seriously, and as long as the Republican party kisses up to him, I will not take them seriously either.

I still don't think that Rush is what conservatives need right now

But just now? Has Rush ever made us better? Has he elevated our discourse? Has he contributed to a better polity?

I think not.

LB said...

Streak, I think you are in part right about the 2004 election, but not totally right.

I'll rephrase what I think the referendum was. The referendum was on whether or not to continue the war in Iraq or withdraw.

I contend the liberal hope was that if the war went badly enough, then public opinion on the war would sour enough to want to elect someone who wanted to withdraw. Thus, I think liberals wanted the war to continue to go badly.

Also, I did not mean to imply that liberals wanted the war to fail in 2003. You are correct that many liberals supported it and correctly identified failings in the invasion strategy. I think most Americans wanted a quick victory in 2003 and hoped for success.

leighton said...

LB, who are these phantom liberals you're talking about? I didn't see any such hope on sites I read regularly, and I certainly don't know anyone in person who is obsessed with domestic politics to the extent that they would hope for extra carnage abroad just to tip an election.

Mr. Fudderman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
steves said...

I don't wish him bad things, but I will admit that I don't have much sympathy for him either. I wasn't really trying to defend him, but just trying to keep the criticisms (and there are plenty) in the realm of what he is saying (or trying to say).

My grandfather had Parkinsons, so I found his mocking of Michael J Fox to be disgusting and without any merit.

I think early on in his career he was more interesting, but I don't think he has anything to offer in a very long time and I don't expect that to change any time soon.

Streak said...

LB, I think I understand your point and can understand the fine distinction about the war. I personally hoped like hell that Bush and the Republicans not learn the wrong lesson from this war and leave with a sense that they had done the right thing. But that is a far cry from hoping that the war would fail, and that people would die. Republicans are hoping this economic recovery will fail, and are trying to make sure it does.

One more thing, the comment about wanting a quick war is true, but that is generally true. Liberals, at least those I read and spoke to were appalled at the war, but once we went in, wanted it to be fought smartly and humanely. We called for more troops and better management, and well beyond the first year. With each year, personally, I just watched in horror as Bush strutted and acted like the cowboy frat boy.

LB said...

I thought this was an interesting tid bit:

Streak said...

It is interesting, LB, but incomplete. Not only is it a Fox poll, but we have no idea how the question was framed. Was it about his policies? Or about him as a person?

I would also say, btw, that there is a huge difference between hoping for failure 30 days out of the gate and the level of antagonism that liberals felt by 2006. That may not make it right, but those are not the same kind of situations.

leighton said...

Here's the poll in question. A couple hundred Democrats affirming that they didn't want Bush to succeed is a very different animal than liberals, in general, wanting the war to go badly. To make that leap means you need to assume that Democrats are liberals (not a reasonable assumption, any more than assuming that all Republicans are conservative, for your favorite definition of "conservative"), and that Bush's primary goal as understood by those Democrat/liberals was to successfully run the Iraq war.

steves said...

While incomplete, it is still interesting to some degree. From my perspective, dissatisfaction ranged from mild disapproval to a seemingly sincere desire to see total failure and all that entails. Obviously, you can't say this about all Democrats or all liberals, but it was still there on forums, blogs, and other places.

leighton said...


I think you're right that you can find people on all sides who are more interested in being right and having their rightness demonstrated for the world than in finding constructive solutions to problems. But this is irrelevant to the meta-argument of "Rush, despite his national platform, gets a pass on whatever he says because some liberals who nobody has ever heard of say similar things." As you've pointed out in the past, there is nobody on the left comparable to Limbaugh in stature, and I think this is why "Oh, it's not so bad" arguments coming from conservatives have to generalize somehow to "liberals" as a whole. There's just no comparison.

steves said...

Leighton, you make a good point and I would never suggest that it is ok to engage in asinine dialog just because the opposition did it at one point in time. The data is only relevant to counter the argument that liberals never said they wanted failure in the Iraq War.

I don't think Rush is getting much of a pass. The dittoheads obviously don't care what drivel spews forth, but the media has given a decent amount of coverage to the things that Rush spoke about. I have seen some negative comments from the conservative blogs, but not much from Republicans in power, though to be pragmatic, if I were a Republican in power it would make the most sense to ignore Rush.