Saturday, May 14, 2011

Limbaugh Scores 50%

I come not to bury Limbaugh, but to praise him.

In part, anyway- the part where he outlined, albeit a day late, presumably by design- the slick strategy Mitt Romney should have taken in his speech on the Affordable Care Act. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed into law a bill providing health care reform eerily similar to the signature piece of legislation of the Obama presidency. That doesn't enhance his popularity among GOP primary voters. In what the 's Charles Babington termed a "talk and slide show" Thursday to college Republicans, Romney had stated

A lot of pundits around the nation are saying that I should just stand up and say this whole thing was a mistake, that it was just a bone-headed idea and I should just admit it. There's only one problem with that: It wouldn't be honest. I, in fact, did what I believe was right for the people of my state.

That seems like a reasonably honest statement and (no but about it) Republican opinion-makers were not pleased. Rush Limbaugh, himself an ardent opponent of almost anything designed to help the middle class or the poor, remarked on Friday

Why doesn't he say, "Look, I was a governor of a liberal state. The people of that state were clamoring for health care reform. I believe in the states being laboratories, trying different things and after all these various experiments, we come up with the best way to do it for the country." That's what he's saying that he would do as president.

Open it up, here. States, do what you want to do here and we'll come up with the best system we can.

That's actually brilliant analysis- no, really it is. And it would have allowed Romney, if asked afterward if he's conceding that he made a mistake in supporting the legislation, to deny that he had. (And politicians are loathe to admit to a "mistake.") He acted, he could have said, in view of popular demand. Now that it is clear it's not the best option for expanding coverage and lowering costs, he might have argued, Massachusetts is free to rescind the program and try something else. He could have had it both ways- opposing what the incumbent president, whom he hopes to face in November of 2012, has enacted while defending his course of action in the "laboratory of democracy," as the traditional media previously called the states.

But that doesn't give Rush license to make things up. (He already has that license.) On the same program, he slammed the Administration's denial of emergency aid for the state of Texas, claiming

This is punishment. The state of Texas also happens to be where Bush lives. The state of Texas did not vote for Obama. There are plenty of other states that did, and they're gonna get the money first. It's no more complicated than that. Obama is president of Obama! I'm surprised anyone would have this question.

Obama was walloped in Texas- just as he was in Mississippi, where

Gov. Haley Barbour announced residents and business owners in four additional counties can access federal emergency assistance programs after President Obama approved and expanded Mississippi’s federal disaster declaration for severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that affected the state....

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced HUD would speed federal disaster assistance to Mississippi and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes following severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding.

Last Friday, President Obama issued a disaster declaration for Clarke, Greene, Hinds, Jasper, Kemper, Lafayette and Monroe county in Mississippi. The President’s declaration allows HUD to offer foreclosure relief and other assistance to certain families living in these counties.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has made immediately available $6 million in Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program aid for disaster recovery projects in 10 states affected by storms and floods. These states are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

A majority of the voters in 7 of those 10 states cast their lot in 2008 with the McCain-Palin ticket, with only 3 voting for Obama. Obama lost Mississippi by a whopping 13.7% and will not carry it in 2012 unless he wins by a landslide's landslide, in which case Mississippi won't matter. There hardly was any political incentive for the Obama administration to aid Mississippi or Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, or Tennessee, none of which he'll carry next year; or Illinois, which he will win unless he comes out for the carpet-bombing of Joliet.

Rush could have modified his argument slightly and made it believable by noting that Texas Governor Perry in February, heralding the GOP electoral victory in November, gloated

Ladies and gentlemen who championed that big government idea of bailouts, those so-called stimulus programs, supported government giveaways — they got a pink slip. It was awesome.

Two months later, Governor Perry had a more charitable view of the "giveaways" big government specializes in. President Obama could have seen to it that Texas get its requested aid in time of need and then subtly suggested that the Texas Republican had an abrupt change of mind when convenient. Instead,

Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, wrote in a letter to the governor Friday that the storm's "severity and magnitude" did not exceed the capabilities of state and local government.

"Accordingly, we have determined that supplemental federal assistance is not necessary," Fugate wrote.

It would have been much simpler, as well as more honest and probably more accurate, to have reported that the federal government concluded that Texas could solve this problem on its own and that a bunch of states which rejected Senator Obama in 2008 and will reject President Obama in 2012 did in fact receive aid. But that would have required the presentation of facts and in the conservative fact-free zone, that is simply not allowed.

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