David Frum tries to pass for reasonable, but he’s got no solutions either. The question he should be trying to answer is not how to defeat Donald Trump, but why any of the other candidates are less crazy, or why their policies and conspiracies are any less snake-oily. It’s not just Tim Pawlenty who has gone off the deep end. And if we allow the supposition that Mitt Romney has kept at least one foot in the world of here and now, he’s got the whole RomneyCare issue to carry around like an albatross. Maybe it’s true that the Republicans are just pandering to a group of fever-mad lunatics. Less than one in three Republicans know that the president was born in this country.
A plurality of Republican voters, 47 percent, said they believed Mr. Obama, who was born in Hawaii, was born in another country; 22 percent said they did not know where he was born, and 32 percent said they believed he was born in the United States.
This is the equivalent of half the country thinking 9/11 was carried out by Peruvians. It has zero basis in fact. The O.J. Simpson jury had a better grasp of the facts than the average GOP voter. At least the LAPD had a history of planting evidence on people, and DNA evidence was fairly new. What’s the basis for nearly half of all Republicans thinking the president is ineligible to be president? That he’s black? That he’s got a weird name?
The Republican base wouldn’t be so deluded if they weren’t constantly deluged with lies big and small. The people they trust to tell them the truth almost never tell them the truth about anything. Look how quickly the party was convinced that climate change is a hoax. It was an almost overnight flip-flop. Who does that particular lie protect?
Even in good times, the Republicans struggle to come up with any positive agenda. Bush was successful with “compassionate conservatism,” which really amounted to supporting federal funding for education and a prescription drug benefit under Medicare. There were at least two things aside from making war that Bush thought the government should do. I don’t think you can say that about Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty or any of the other candidates. Newt Gingrich is supposed to be overflowing with innovative ideas. Oh, yeah? Like what? What does Gingrich think the government should do more of? Even if he comes up with something, he better not mention it aloud because the GOP base isn’t going to want to hear anything about anything (unless the word “voucher” is attached).
The problem is not the one David Frum identifies. The problem isn’t that the Republican candidates are responding to middle class anxiety with spending cuts and tax relief for bajillionaires. The problem is that that is their response to everything, in every situation. When we had a surplus, they told us it was proof that the government was taxing us too much and that we all deserved a tax cut. When the economy tanked they told us it was because we were overtaxed and over-regulated. It’s the same old story every single time in every single situation. Less for ordinary folks and more for those who are already loaded. That’s the Republican ideology. You take that, you wrap it up in an American flag and hang it on a cross, and you’ve got a political party. They don’t have any solutions because they don’t believe in the federal government. The government is the problem. So, why would anyone put them in charge of it?
Maybe because we’re so damn uninformed.