David Lynch fans may remember the scene in Mulholland Drive where The Cowboy says “Time to wake up” to the Naomi Watts character, whose real life turns out to be a nightmare.
Democrats will wake up in a nightmare, too, if they don’t soon get their act together. It will be Election Day and they’ll find themselves in the minority in the House and with a slimmer majority in the Senate, a turn of events that would ensure even harder times for the poor and so-called middle classes.
As the Washington Post reported Sunday, Republicans in Congress are now convinced they can win big in November by blaming Dems for current high unemployment rates and other grim economic news, even though they are working in unison to block all Dem efforts to create jobs and provide financial help for the unemployed.
The latter tactic didn’t become part of the GOP strategy until this summer, when Republicans fought like Rotweilers to deny a benefits extension to those who are out of work. Until then, only kooks such as Sen. Jim Bunning (R.-KY) claimed that jobs benefits were a significant factor in the ever-growing deficit.
It’s a given that Republicans are stingy and mean-spirited, but if the November elections go badly for the Dems it will largely be because they fell into a typically timid defensive posture as Republicans became progressively bolder in trying to paint Dems as somehow responsible for the economic downturn that happened while Dubya was in office.
Mainstream media will be a factor, of course, because of its tired old “he said/she said” approach to reporting political news. For instance, in stories last week about the benefits extension bill, mainstream reporters repeatedly failed to challenge Republicans who said they opposed the bill because Dems wouldn’t agree to offset its $34 billion cost with spending cuts or unspent stimulus funds. Reporters who were doing their jobs would have pointed out that the benefits extension foes were some of the same people who voted for more than $1 trillion in tax cuts for the rich, a move they still defend.
But Dems could make the news machine work for them if they hammered every day at the liars who created the budget deficit and now use it as an excuse to heap hardships on the poor. They face a tough road, mostly because President Obama didn’t have the gumption or good sense to emulate FDR and come out swinging against the Party of No as soon as he took office.
The message being heard most often these days is that of congressional right-wingers, a cast that includes characters so grotesque — Bunning, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R.-KY), Rep. John Boehner (R.-OH), et al. — that even David Lynch at his weirdest couldn’t have invented them.
Let’s hope the foggy-headed Dems we elected in 2008 will figure out how to fight these freaks. If they don’t, 2011 will be an even worse economic nightmare than 2010.