Kiss of Death
During these mean-spirited political times,
Republicans have no qualms about calling up such images about President Barack
“That’s what Obama’s visits and support really have
been—the kiss of death,” said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican Party
of Wisconsin, about Obama’s Milwaukee
campaign fund-raising appearance.
Of course, if that were the case, why were Milwaukee
Mayor Tom Barrett, running for governor, and Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold,
running for re-election, so eager to share the spotlight with the incumbent
Perhaps because this is the president who won an
overwhelming election victory in Wisconsin,
achieving victory in 59 of the state’s 72 counties—rural, suburban and urban
Not only that, but Obama was arriving at a perfect
time to tout $365 million for Wisconsin to rehire laid-off teachers and
maintain health care he finally managed to get through Congress over the
opposition of Republicans.
That was in addition to the recent windfall of $810
million in economic stimulus funds to make Wisconsin the centerpiece of a
national high-speed rail system connecting Milwaukee
and Madison to St. Louis,
and other major cities.
Still, you can’t blame Priebus and state Republicans
for deluding themselves into thinking there’s something negative about a
personally popular president showing up bearing more than a billion dollars
during hard times to campaign for state Democrats.
Republicans and the media have been brainwashing
The media narrative for weeks has been that Obama
and the Democrats are in trouble in the November election because jobs are
still not being created fast enough as the nation struggles to recover from one
of the worst economic disasters in American history.
That’s a pretty bad story for the Democrats, all
right. But sometime before November, the media is going to have to get around
to telling the rest of the story.
It is that Republicans have consistently voted
against every effort to improve the economy under Obama because Republicans
would prefer to have millions of Americans remain out of work rather than have
Democrats benefit politically from an economic recovery.
To needlessly compound the injury, Republicans also
voted against extending unemployment compensation for millions of people
without jobs at a time when there are five applicants for every opening.
That’s why when you look closely at most of the
polls that say people are unhappy with Obama and the Democrats because of the
economy, you find that the only politicians people hold in lower esteem than
the Democrats are the Republicans.
But that’s not the part of the story that makes the
headlines. The headlines keep repeating the same tired line—More Bad News for
Democrats: People Unhappy about Economy.
The conventional wisdom in political reporting is
that the party that wins the presidential election always loses seats in
Congress in the off-year election two years later.
And when people are unhappy about the economy, the
party in power loses even more seats.
Of course, conventional wisdom also said Obama would
never be elected president in the first place. The economic circumstances
surrounding November’s election have never existed before. Naturally, voters
are distressed about the economy. Who wouldn’t be? But here is the choice for
voters to register their unhappiness in November:
They can vote for the Democrats who have passed bill
after bill to save millions of jobs and to create new jobs rebuilding roads,
bridges and infrastructure and—on the depressed North Side of
Milwaukee—building high-tech, high-speed trains for a new national
Or, if voters are really angry that all those
hard-fought Democratic efforts to pull the economy back from the brink of a
depression are not creating jobs fast enough, their other choice is to vote to
shut down the economic recovery.
That’s because Republicans have opposed every single
bill to save or create American jobs.
Republicans would have let the American car
companies go out of business, devastating local manufacturers such as Johnson
Controls. They would have let the banks collapse. They would have laid off
hundreds of thousands of teachers. They even oppose a $30 billion loan fund to
assist small businesses.
Wisconsin Republicans have joined their national
leaders in opposing actual dollars coming into the state to create jobs and
promote economic development.
Incredibly, both Republican gubernatorial candidates
have pledged to reject the federal gift of $810 million to build the national
high-speed rail system in Wisconsin
and all the resulting employment and economic development.
When the economy is the primary voter concern, the cynical Republican decision to try to prevent economic recovery under Obama should be the real political kiss of death.