Bill Moyers has a great show last night. His first guest was Thomas Frank. Frank’s last two books should be required reading for the whole country. They remind us of how bad the GOP really is. Their hatred of government has caused by far more problems than it solves.
Bill Moyers talks to Thomas Frank about whether the Republicans are headed for some victories this coming election due to our collective memory loss about how horrid the Republicans are at governing, sadly enabled by the Democratic leadership which looks clueless as how to counter it all too often. From Moyers’ report:
Will Rogers once said, “The short memories of American voters is what keeps our politicians in office.” But as Democrats face what many believe will be a tough mid-term election, historian Thomas Frank argues that it might just be the other way around for incumbent Democrats. The Republican Party, which lost Congress and the White House in the last four years, may be poised for a comeback. A comeback Frank believes is only possible because Americans have forgotten what their country looked like under conservative rule, “That’s the disease of our time…that sort of instant forgetting.”
On BILL MOYERS JOURNAL, Frank looks into the not-so-distant past to describe what America looked like before the time of President Obama, focusing on the last ten years, which he’s called “A Low, Dishonest Decade” in a recent column for the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Frank believes that many of the crises that afflicted America during the oughts should be laid at the feet of the conservative movement. Frank’s list is long: the inadequate response to Katrina; the Enron, Abramoff and Madoff scandals; the mismanaged Iraqi reconstruction; two mismanaged and unpopular wars; and the 2008 financial disaster. Frank argues that it can all be traced back to an intentional dismantling of the government’s oversight infrastructure, driven by a belief that government is always bad: “This is why the wreckage that I’ve described can’t be separated from the conservative ideology and the conservative movement, generally: Because of their hatred of big government and their disdain and contempt for the federal workforce.” But according to Frank, the financial disaster has wiped clean Americans’ memories. They are mad at the bankers and mad about the economy, and conservatives may ride a wave of populist outrage back into power.
Full transcript below the fold.
BILL MOYERS: How is it that the people who are responsible for the mess that Obama inherited are getting away with demonizing him when he’s only had less than a year to clean it up. Let me show you just a sample of commentators railing against the President.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: President Obama and the Democrats are destroying the US economy. They are purposefully doing it, I believe.
GLENN BECK: This is a well-thought out plan to collapse the economy as we know it.
JONATHAN HOENIG: The president has, I think if you listen to what he says, a hatred for capitalism. Where do jobs come from? They don’t come from the government, they come from the profit seeking self-interest, from what I hear and see, the President never misses an opportunity to smear and [no audio] slap!
RUSH LIMBAUGH: This guy is a coward. He does not have the gonads or the spine to even stand up and accept what he’s doing! All of this is his doing. He cannot even probably say, you should like this — you may not like this, but I’m telling you it’s the best thing for you, it’s the best thing for me. No! He knows it’s a disaster, he has to slough this off, on his previous– or his predecessor, the previous administration.
SEAN HANNITY: It’s his stimulus. It’s his record deficit spending. He quadrupled the debt in a year. You know, how many more are the Democrats going to say, “Well, it’s George Bush’s fault”? This is Obama’s economy now.
BILL MOYERS: What goes through your mind as a historian when you watch that?
THOMAS FRANK: Well, that is America for you. I mean, that is the, sort of the demented logic of our politics. Is that now– Obama’s been President for a year. And he will come before the public in the fall, you know, having to defend all of these terrible things. That’s how our politics works in this country.
BILL MOYERS: But you called it demented. I mean, you know, demented means crazy, mad. Mad and crazy enough to cause us to forget the world before Obama?
THOMAS FRANK: I’ll give you an example what I mean. So, I was on a radio show the other day with a tea party leader, you know, one of these protest leaders. And he seemed like a good guy. But what he did say that struck me was he said he was really against monopoly, you know? And we’re laboring under all these monopolies, all these concentrated powers here in America. And what we need to do is get back to free markets. And then we can do away with that. And it was mind-blowing.
Because if you look back any further than the Obama Administration, since, I mean, 1980 in this country, we have been in the grip of, you know, of this pursuit of ever-purer free markets. That’s what American politics has been about. That’s what has delivered this, you know, the awful circumstances that we find ourselves in today. And to think that that’s what’s missing, that’s what we need to get back to, is–
BILL MOYERS: That’s more than nostalgia. What is that?
THOMAS FRANK: Well, that’s the disease of our time. You know, that sort of instant forgetting.