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June 08, 2009

Palin: If He's So Smart and I'm So Dumb, How Come I'm So Right and He's So Wrong?
Update: Rasmssen Now Shows GOP Ahead by Six on the Economy

On Hannity tonight, Palin tells America I told you so.

PALIN: America is digging a deeper hole and how are we paying for this government largesse. We’re borrowing. We’re borrowing from China and we consider that now we own sixty percent of GENERAL MOTORS – or the U.S. government does… But who is the U.S. government becoming more indebted to? It’s China. So that leads you to have to ask who is really going to own our car industry than in America.

HANNITY: You know but it goes back - It does go back a little to the campaign. I mean, ‘spread the wealth, patriotic duty…’

PALIN: Kind of a ‘we told ya so’.

HANNITY: Well, is that how you feel?

PALIN: That’s how I feel! I feel like… and I think that more and more constituents are going to open their eyes now and open their ears to hear what is really going on and realize ok… Maybe we didn’t have a good way of expressing that, or articulating that message of ‘here is what America could potentially become if we grow government to such a degree that we cannot pay for it and we have to borrow money from other countries, some countries that don’t necessarily like America.

And this many months into the new administration, quite disappointed, quite frustrated with not seeing those actions to rein in spending, slow down the growth of government. Instead Sean it is the complete opposite. It’s expanding at such a large degree that if Americans aren’t paying attention, unfortunately our country could evolve into something that we do not even recognize.

HANNITY: Socialism?

PALIN: Well, that is where we are headed.

A bit more at Drudge.

Palin needs some rehabilitation, and this is pretty much the best kind. All of the people who called her dumb -- including, notably, Obama's cheering section in the media -- seem to have been wrong and she seems to have been right.

And the country is starting to notice, finally, as Gallup reports a bare majority (51%) now disapprove of Obama's handling of spending and the deficit.

Allah notes that those are still good numbers for Obama -- considering the astounding level of his spending, with deficits hitherto undreamed of. Certainly the public has never blessed such levels of spending before with approval; so why the relatively high level of support now?

There are a lot of reasons for that, including the media's hiding of the real story from the public and the public's demand to give the president they voted for every possible chance, but a big factor must be that these numbers are so large the public is only recently beginning to grasp them.

The public is conditioned to assume things about the working of government: Critically, that no matter who's running the government, the pendulum will only swing a small amount between capitalism and a European-style welfare state. That, basically, one party will only go, say, 10% to the right or left.

Because, historically, that has been pretty much the limit of presidential nudging. Reagan went a bit farther, and Bush, arguably, almost as far as Reagan, but as a general matter presidents don't change things that much. They tend to correct for what the public perceives as the excesses of past administrations of the opposing party. Did Reagan and Bush the Elder go too far towards capitalism? Okay, well here comes Clinton to push it a bit back to the left.

This is generally a fair assumption, and probably what the public expected they'd be getting in an Obama administration. Obama presented himself as a moderate, and the media fell over itself to vouch for him on that score -- even going so far as to "vet" private citizens such as Joe the Plumber who dared to suggest otherwise.

And since then the media has continued flacking for Obama.

So the public has been mostly assuming that Obama's policies, while a change in direction, were just a small but needed correction the other way. And they haven't bothered looking at the actual numbers, because they've been comfortable in their assumptions and haven't questioned the tale the media is telling them.

As the Dan Aykroyd character in Tommy Boy says, "What the general public doesn't know is what makes them the general public.'

But it seems that the general public is finally getting savvy to the idea that these budgets aren't just large, aren't just "what Bush did too," and aren't merely "a little worse than Bush." They are entirely unprecedented, except for a brief period during the Second World War.

I am closer to Ed's sanguine take on this than Allah's more cautious one. The public has never before embraced such outsized deficits. It should be noted that when deficits got large (but not nearly this large) in the late eighties and early nineties, deficit-control became a huge issue in the 1992 presidential campaign, inspiring the candidacy of Ross Perot, who secured a huge level of support for a third-party candidate. And Bill Clinton managed to win largely on his promises to control spending and reduce the deficit.

Only the economy, then in recession, was a bigger issue. (Well, the country was recovering from a recession, actually, but the general public didn't know that; which is what makes them the general public.)

And Republicans promised likewise in 1994, as part of the Contract with America, and were swept to a historic victory.

So, in 1992-1994, when the deficits were not nearly as large, the public reacted with such vehemence that they voted out the party controlling the presidency and the party controlling the Congress. They cleaned house. Old-school.

Obama does still have the recession on his side, as he can claim that he didn't have much to do with it. But as has been said again and again, this dispensation is of limited duration.

The public just doesn't comprehend -- yet -- the enormity of Obama's deficits. They don't yet get that this isn't like Reagan's deficits, or Clinton's early deficits, or Bush the Younger's relatively tiny deficits. These are an order of magnitude bigger then anyone's seen before (or at least since the middle of a World War against the Nazi and Japanese empires), and that's only slowly beginning to sink in.

People don't like admitting they were wrong, and Obama can count on at least that 52% who voted for him for a while. But at some point people are going to decide that admitting they were wrong is less objectionable than supporting this unprecedented -- radical -- level in spending, and they're going to turn on him.

And they're not going to say "I was wrong." There's a more psychologically-palatable way to admit error: I was lied to. And so when they turn, they're going to turn hard, and with emotion.

Incidentally: It occurs to me now that this fact -- that people would rather say "I was lied to" than "I was wrong" -- helped destroy Bush's popularity rating and doomed McCain.

The public supported the Iraq War. And then they didn't. Rather than admitting that they, like Bush and his advisers, were simply wrong about the costs and duration of the war, they preferred to imagine they'd been deceived. If you're tricked or lied to, it's better than just admitting you were wrong.

Note that the most unhinged and emotional supporter of Bush and the War became Bush's and the War's most unhinged and emotional detractor. And Andrew Sullivan got there, got to that level of self-righteous rage, not by admitting his own assumptions about the difficulties of war were wrong, but by convincing himself that he had been lied to.

See, Andrew Sullivan didn't make an intellectual or moral error. Bush is to blame. He lied to Sullivan.

At least in St. Andrew of the Sacred Heart-Ache's narrative, he did.

And I think the public was willing to entertain the Democrats' claims of "twisted intelligence" and "he lied us into war" because that version of the facts appeals to them. It lets them off the hook, intellectually and morally, for what they came to consider a mistake. It lets them remain intellectually and morally untainted... merely the victim of a malefactor's con.

I expect to see this same dynamic playing out with Obama's economic policies. Except, in this case, Obama and the media really did lie to them. He didn't just make a mistake; he lied. He always knew he'd have to jack up tax rates or inflate the hell out of the currency to support his enormous spending. He just lied about it, getting the country a little bit pregnant, as they say.

When that shoe drops, there's going to be a palpable and well-deserved sense of anger in the country.

Cracking: GOP takes lead on the economy according to Rasmussen.

Allah says he wants to believe. Believe. Unless Americans have truly had a sea-change in their thinking on enormous deficits and a huge change of heart on whether their taxes should go up, Obama's in trouble.

I don't believe either of those things are true. I think people like to deceive themselves, or allow themselves to be easily deceived, when someone cons them. They want to believe they can have more stuff without paying for it. They want to believe that. That's what makes every single con work -- seriously, that is the psychological lever that every con man pulls.

You can have this pile of money you didn't earn and don't deserve and all you have to do is trust me a little bit. And people fall for it every day, because they strongly desire that it's the truth.

But it's not.

There is no free lunch, and there is no such thing as a smooth-talking stranger or Nigerian prince willing to give you a stack of money if you just give them a tiny bit of money first.

And when people find out they're conned, they get very angry. They do not tend to blame themselves for being so greedy that avarice overwhelmed basic common sense. They get angry at the con man only.

And have no doubt-- the public was conned. They were told we could have all this free crap and we only had to raise taxes on the rich to the levels under Clinton.

Note that Clinton had much higher tax rates than Obama said we would have -- because Bush had since then reduced taxes on the poor and middle-class. And Obama was only proposing, supposedly, to raise the tax rates on one group, the rich, and only to the Clinton levels.

So here's the thing: If Clinton couldn't afford universal health care and vastly expanded federal spending of all types with his higher and deeper (i.e., broader based, extending to the poor and middle class) tax rates, how on earth could Obama afford all of this new spending supported by a lower and narrower tax structure?

It never made sense. Ever. Clinton is widely held, even by conservatives, as being a basically fiscally-prudent manager; if Clinton could not afford universal health care and huge new spending levels with his smaller pile of tax revenues, how on earth could Obama?

Is Obama, as is sometimes earnestly suggested, truly divine and magical, possessed of the ability to create wealth and suspend the normal laws of mathematics according to his deific will?

And that was the con. He told the public something that ought to have set their bullshit detectors ringing. But every good con relies on wish fulfillment to make it work. They wanted to believe the flat-out ridiculous -- more free stuff with lower tax rates than we've ever managed in all of history! -- and so they did.

But now comes the exposure of the swindle, this bait-and-switch. And it's going to dawn on them that this notion -- more free stuff and lower taxes too! -- never made a damn lick of sense, and someone is at fault for this swindle.

And they ain't going to be blaming themselves. They're not going to blame themselves for having been so stupid. Not when there's a more culpable party at had.

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posted by Ace at 03:25 PM

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