Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Sunday, December 17, 2017

The guy your aunt met on ChristianMingle.com is going to be in such a good mood.

His third “Make America Great Again” hat just came in the mail. He’s certain that his prolific Internet commenting as “RINOHUNTz69” has singlehandedly dismantled the candidacy of Jeb Bush. And the last two years of off-year elections have helped Republicans gain more power at the state and local level than at any time since the Republicans led us into the Great Depression.

So what if some choice refugee scaremongering wasn’t enough to overcome a prostitution scandal and eight years of Bobby Jindal?

A Democratic governor in a red state doesn’t change the fact that the Paris attacks represent a “positive development” for the GOP presidential candidates, who got a boost in the polls from their competition to see who can act the most terrified of the Islamic State, while focusing on issues that have nothing to do with the actual attacks.

So there’s not much you can say to bum out your uncle-to-be. And no matter what you say, he won’t hear you.

More than half of Republicans believe that the unemployment rate has risen under president Obama — even though it’s been sliced in half. The other half of the GOP has been trained to shout about the labor participation rate — a “last refuge for scoundrels” that mostly indicates Baby Boomers are retiring at an appropriate age.

No, Republicans need to believe that Barack Obama is a failure on par with George W. Bush and nothing you say will change that. But if politics come up, either put on some Adele or make these points for the benefit of any relatives who are not immune to facts.

1. We’re experiencing the best job growth of the century.
Last year — 2014, the first year Obamacare went into effect, the year when the American economy was supposed to shatter into a catastrophe of job killing — was the best year of job creation since 1999. This year, 2015, could be the second best year — if the last two reports aren’t revised down and we average 220,000 new jobs for November and December, which seems possible given that we’ve averaged 234,000 new jobs a month since January 2014. Average jobs created per month under George W. Bush? A mere 65,000 if you don’t count his disastrous final year — and if you do, 20,000 a month. So things aren’t perfect. But they’re better than they’ve been so far in this century.

2. We have the lowest uninsured rate in American history.
Another piece of news cheering up conservatives is that United Healthcare , the nation’s largest insurance company, says it’s not making enough money from Obamacare. They hope this will lead to the demise of the health care law, which has helped more than 17 million Americans gain health insurance. What the United Health announcement actually shows is that premiums have been lower than expected and fewer employers have dumped their employees into the exchanges. More affluent, middle-class people are needed in the exchanges, but major insurers aren’t echoing United Health’s concerns. Regardless, America has never had so few uninsured people — ever. And that trend promises to get even better as red states like West Virginia and possibly Louisiana finally expand Obamacare.

3. We survived Ebola and we’ll survive a few thousand refugees.
The scaremongering led by the right against destitute refugees is so offensive that the United States Holocaust Museum felt the need to object publicly. The opportunistic attempt to feed off people’s fears is nearly a doppelgänger of the GOP’s highly effective freakout over Ebola — a disease that killed exactly zero Americans who contracted the disease in this country. Accepting refugees is safe and makes us safer. And getting tough on the victims of ISIS is the exact opposite of getting tough on ISIS. In fact, it’s exactly what ISIS wants us to do.

4. The U.S. has led the fight against ISIS. But without local ground troops, we’ll just get a new ISIS.
Every time a new country begins bombing ISIS, conservatives immediately praise them and suggest that Obama should do the same. For some reason the right wants to ignore the fact that the U.S. has launched nearly 3,000 air strikes against Daesh — more than any other country by a factor of 10.

Image via @Walldo
Image via @Walldo

This military campaign clearly hasn’t defeated ISIS. And even though the group has lost ground this year, you can argue that the attacks in Paris show it’s not contained. What you can’t argue is that the U.S. can do much more than it’s doing. “From the American intervention in Somalia, in 1992, through the French intervention in Mali, in 2013, industrialized countries have been able to deploy ground forces to take guerrilla-held territory in about 60 days or less,” Steve Coll writes in The New Yorker. Marines could take the ground ISIS holds and unless there’s a local force to hold it, we’ll be back there to fight ISIS or worse again, and soon. Trying to defeat ISIS using the methods that created it is so insane that the only people proposing to use U.S. ground troops are the same people who still back the Iraq War. We’re paying the costs of ignoring reality in the Middle East. And the costs get higher each time a new Bush decides on a new war there.

5. The deficit is too low — and Republicans want it to be way higher.
If you love cutting the deficit, Barack Obama must be your hero. Spending that exceeds revenues we take in as a nation is now lower than it has been since 2007. Given that we’re still recovering from the Bush Recession and our infrastructure is tragically decaying, we should be borrowing at record low rates to rebuild roads and bridges while investing in high-speed trains and other prudent, necessary expenditures. Republicans won’t do that now, however, because they know it would boost the economy. But the GOP candidates for president have proven they could not care less about fiscal discipline by proposing tax breaks mostly for the rich that are “basically insane.”

Republicans have reasons to be happy. If they win the most important election of our lifetime, they’ll add the most conservative Supreme Court in the modern era to their control of the House, Senate, and state capitols. But their insistence on ignoring reality while alienating precisely the voters they need to win over, could result in a shattering defeat.

Then we’ll see who’s smiling next Thanksgiving.

Illustration: DonkeyHotey via Flickr

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 The National Memo