Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Obama Recession?

If there is any doubt as to the intellectual bankruptcy and bad faith of the Right-wing commentariat, let those doubts be laid to rest by the fact that two full months before the 44th President of the United States even takes the oath of office, Rush Limbaugh is already referring to the current economic crisis as the "Barack Obama Recession." The mouth-breathing Right, it seems, is so impatient to begin finding fault with our next president, even where no such fault exists, that such matters as plausibility and causality are of only minor concern. But hold on, you say: Barack Obama has not taken office yet, nor even filled the vast majority of positions in his cabinet, including his team of economic advisors. How can he be at fault? No problem. Clearly the markets, which would otherwise be booming thanks to the wise economic stewarship of the GOP over the past 8 years, have become spooked by Obama's inexplicable decision to don a green tie yesterday, when it's obvious he should have worn yellow. Ergo, this entirely avoidable recession is also, entirely Obama's recession.

That Rush Limbaugh should be so dishonest as to attribute the current economic malaise to Obama is not particularly surprising to anyone who's followed his career for any length of time. That his listeners are stupid enough to accept the argument is, alas, also unsurprising. Remember, this is the party of Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber --Palin, whose vast expertise in climate science has led her to question the human origins of global warming, and who may, or may not, know that Africa is a continent and not a country; and Joe who spends sleepless nights dreaming up implausible scenarios under which Obama's tax plan (a plan that objectively benefits him) might cost him money, who rails against income redistribution while on welfare, and who's entire understanding of socialist doctrine derives from looking up the word "Socialism" in Webster's dictionary. Limbaugh and his listeners remind me of the Monty Python sketch in which a man pays a service to have an argument. The details of the argument are unimportant. He just wants a good argument. Likewise, Limbaugh's listeners tune into his show to hear the man heap abuse upon left of center politicians. The plausibility of Limbaugh's arguments are less important. That's why "the markets have become spooked by Obama's economic plans" works so well for Limbaugh. It's an argument that, no matter how preposterous it seems in context, is not easily disproven. And so it will do. It also has the benefit of fitting neatly into his listeners biases and predispositions, where Democratic policies are always bad for business while Republican policies are always good for business. No further elucidation or proof is necessary.

Limbaugh is an extreme example, of course, but he merely makes plain what other Right-wing commentators are a little better at hiding. He may have jumped the gun by weeks, but rest assured, the remainder of the Right-wing pack will be jumping the gun in short order. They may find the discipline to wait until the innauguration, but as soon as that happens you can bet they'll all be talking about the "Obama recession" and his "failed Iraq and Afghanistan policy." The last 8 years will have vanished from their collective consciousness, and like Pol Pot after a purge, they will declare 2009 to be "year zero" in their new calendar of hatred and lies.

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