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The Grand Old Party of distractions

The economy is in a deep funk. Private-sector job creation is anemic. The jobless rate is stuck in the mid-9 percent range. As a result, the American people are mad as hell because their unemployment benefits are running out, the prospect of a job is as distant as the horizon, and they’re worried about losing everything. You’d think Republicans would club President Obama and the Democrats like a [fill in cute, endangered species here] on an hourly basis from now until Nov. 2.

Instead, GOP leaders and strategists have put the administration and Democrats on the defensive in the run-up to the midterm elections by exploiting hot-button emotional wedge issues they hope will draw people to the polls and put Republicans in the majority. The “controversy” now is the “mosque” planned for Lower Manhattan. Last week, it was “anchor babies” and repealing the 14th amendment to the Constitution. Back in July, there was the faux-troversy over a voter intimidation case in Philadelphia involving the New Black Panther Party. This was followed by a frenzied week in which Shirley Sherrod, an Agriculture Department official in Georgia, was fired over racially inflammatory remarks, only to be rehired when it was revealed that she was actually delivering an address on race and reconciliation.

In those four instances we have the tried-and-true of hysteria: race, religion and immigration. All that’s missing are the gays. In the old days, Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision last week declaring California's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional would have had conservatives bursting into rhetorical flames. But Prop 8 proponents put up such a limp defense (if you can call it that) that the usual wailing about activist judges has been decidedly mute.

Thankfully, The Post’s Karen Tumulty reports today, there are some Republicans who view the current kerfuffle over the “mosque” as a poisoned chalice. "While this is certainly an issue that has generated a lot of emotion,” pollster David Winston told her, “when it comes to voting, the election is going to be about the economy and jobs." Agreed. So, where are the ideas on that?

Forgive me for climbing atop my hobby horse yet again, but these hot-button distractions let the GOP off the hook. If Republicans want to be entrusted with the majority in the House and possibly the White House in 2012, they have a responsibility to tell the American people what they would do exactly to create jobs and resuscitate the economy. America Speaking Out and YouCut are empty charades. And springing an agenda derived from those two exercises next month inspires no confidence that the GOP is serious about the economy or any of the other problems facing this country. Voters in their districts sent House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) to Washington to lead, to be an alternative voice to the Democratic majority. When will they?

By Jonathan Capehart  | August 18, 2010; 12:18 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

If you can't dazzle them with brillance, baffle them with BS. The only Republican having any platform besides the standard talking points is Ryan. His pamphlet has some policy ideas which are all bad from the $9800 cap on medicare costs to the 50% reduction of taxes on the top 2%. The rest campaign on "Hell no" we're against everything with no solution of our own.

Posted by: jameschirico | August 18, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Memo to Republicans: No fair playing fair.

Posted by: taxmenomore | August 18, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans are always ready to summon up some faux outrage over some minor incident they think will stir up the rubes. They're trying to hide their total lack of solutions except cutting taxes on the rich, which of course will make things worse for 99% of the population.

Posted by: dnahatch1 | August 18, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

So what else is new? This is the only way the GOP knows to play the game - they can only win by distracting people from the real issues and exploiting fear and anger over ginned up controversies.

How else can a party persuade people to vote against their own self interest? This is how Bush (Junior) got anointed by the Supreme Court in 2000 and won re-election in 2004, and it worked for Congressional Republicans in the late 90's.

Now you would think the American people would wise up to this kind of manipulation, but to paraphrase Mencken, you can never go wrong misunderestimating the intelligence of the American people. Who needs conztructive ideas when you can count on the electorate to be dumb and uninformed?

Posted by: sambam | August 18, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Mr Capehart, the republicans would not be able to play their usual nonsensical games and distract if the corporate media stopped playing.
Most people would tell you they wish you guys would stop jumping hoops and bending over for any gop shiny object.
You in the media have long dropped doing what is basic journalism 101: fact check.
You take whatever lie and tall tale the gop whispers to you and blow it into a major story over the current non issues.
The medis stopped doing real journalism long ago because they are terrified of the rightwing calling them a name.
ooowww. a name. Liberal media. sure. Whatever happened to sticks and stones? stoping the rightwing bully you.
stop stalking Sarah Palin's Facebook page so you can do Breaking news over whatever nonsense she gibbers about that day.
the vast majority of Americans find her a complete joke and wish you would stop shoving her in our face.
Stop twisting any story and trying to make it about the president and twisting whatever into some major controversy.
Ignore Palin. Ignore the whispers by the gop. Fact check. and then post any peice of c*** they float your way as a tiny blurb buried deep in the paper.
Just stop being their willing pawns and dance for the republicans every time they say boo

Posted by: vwcat | August 18, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I almost responded to a post in a previous commentary; a bellyache about what Obama hasn't done by adding my comment/question "What would have been done if McCain/Palin were in the White House?" Based on what I see the American people would have been bellyaching about them.

Here's a concept; both parties work together for a change, respect each other, and come up with answers needed to turn the current problems in America around.

But in the meantime back to reality....

Posted by: eashley12 | August 18, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

"What are your plans? And why would cutting taxes produce job growth when the real driver of job growth in a capitalist economy is supply and demand?"

Posted by: nsu1203 | August 18, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

There are just too many ways the Democrats are screwing up.

The economy - check.
Terrorism - check.
Immigration - check.
Racial bias in Justice department - check.
Inexperienced, unknown Supreme Court - check.
Unconstitutional insurance mandate - check.

It's hard to concentrate on one dish when the entire buffet is available.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | August 18, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Mr Capehart; all,

the FACTS`are that all your DIMocRAT partisan blather, carping, whining & whimpering will NOT change the FACTS: in about 3 months the DIMocRATS will be the victim of the worst off-year election/BLOODBATH in modern history
AND
the GREAT thing is that you DIMocRATS/LIBS did it to YOURSELVES, by:
1. NOT caring what "regular people" like my family & friends wanted,
2. looking DOWN upon us as "inferiors",
3. passing "obamacare", after 70% of Americans just said: NO!
and
4. passing a hundred other BOONDOGGLES for the ELITES, which we told you that we OPPOSED.

as a result, you DIMocRATS will LOSE BOTH houses of Congress in NOV & the President's election in 2012, 2016, 2020 & BEYOND.= the DIMs are DONE as a major political party & as dead for decades (and perhaps forever) as the Whigs are.

THE TRUTH is that your party has LOST the TRUST of the "common people" FOREVER. = we "regular people from flyover country" won't be back.

note: OH,i forgot, you should be sure to wave "BYE, BYE" to us.


yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | August 18, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

If it had not been for Al Sharpton getting upset I would never have known that August 28th was a special date for the Blacks.
Thanks Al.
Got any other special days you would like to announce before we Stupid White Folks go ahead and make plans that might upset you?

Posted by: nychap44 | August 19, 2010 12:14 AM | Report abuse

". . . they have a responsibility to tell the American people what they would do exactly to create jobs and resuscitate the economy."

They'll just tell us that they are going to lower taxes, privatize Social Security and Medicare, and reduce the size of government. In others words, they're going to try to do the same things they've been talking about for thirty years -- those same things that led to all our problems in the first place.

And, because they have no real plan for improving the conditions of the majority of Americans, they have to continually raise wedge issues, hoping to distract citizens from asking serious questions of them.

And, so far, it's working!

Posted by: marmac5 | August 19, 2010 12:24 AM | Report abuse

texasnative46,

The rules for capitalizing words are relatively simple. Please remember to at least try to abide by them. We will appreciate your cooperation. Thank you.

Posted by: jns-alex99 | August 19, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

kitchendragon50,

Let's go down your checklist one more time.

The economy - tanked under Bush 43, and the Bush 43 administration started the initial corrective actions, including TARP, bailout of AIG, etc. One can argue that the Obama administration should have improved upon the Bush 43 administration but hasn't, but that's still not enough to award your "check" to the Democrats. This one is at best "even" between the two parties.

Terrorism - one really big event under the Bush 43 administration (9/11, remember?), along with two botched invasions/occupations. No terrorism events under the Obama administration, drawdown from one botched invasion started and in progress, but no clear resolution on the other botched invasion yet. On balance, this check has to go to the Republicans.

Immigration - deportations under the Obama administration are running very much ahead of those of the Bush 43 administration, even though the Obama administration is trying to make sure that promising youths who are innocently here in this country because of their parents' sins, not theirs, are not "thrown away." One can fault the Obama administration for the lack of comprehensive immigration reform yet, but that criticism applies with equal force to the Bush 43 administration. On balance, this check also belongs to the Republicans.

Racial bias in Justice Department - it's actually the Bush 43 administration that dropped charges against the New Black Panthers Party. This check definitely belongs to the Republicans.

Inexperienced, unknown Supreme Court - this apparently refers to Justices Sotomayor and Kagan. However, the two Justices most recently appointed before them were John Roberts and Samuel Alito. If you're saying that you would like all recent appointees removed and replaced, that's okay by me. That way, there will be four new vacancies on the Court. Let's call this check "even," then.

Unconstitutional insurance mandate - the mandate's constitutionality is still being litigated. It's accordingly premature to award a check to either party.

So, a "buffet" it is: two Republicans, two "evens," and one "premature." Except for the "premature," it's all tasty eating.

Posted by: jns-alex99 | August 19, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Oops! Sorry, in regard to my previous posting, three Republican checks, not two. Very tasty eating indeed!

Posted by: jns-alex99 | August 19, 2010 12:55 AM | Report abuse

jnsalex - i guess someone needs to correct you. won't argue opinion (terrorism, immigration, economy) as that is a worthless cause, but the bush justice department didn't drop the charges on the black panthers. those charges were dropped, as I recall, in March 2009 - but definitely by the Obama justice department. this was done after the bush justice department obtained the default guilty verdicts.

Posted by: termiteavenger | August 19, 2010 2:33 AM | Report abuse

What laughable claptrap, as per usual from this boob. It is the Dimwitcrats who want to talk about everything under the sun save what's really going down. It is the inept response of those in power that allows these molehills to turn into mountains.

If Americans do indeed vote for divided government this fall, it will not be because they admire Republicans or they've bought into some brilliant scheme the politicians put forward. It will be because they want a check on Oboobma's catastrophic spending and extremist job-killing ideology. It will be because they want somebody to hold Oboobma and the rest of his tax-cheating circus act accountable.

Posted by: thebump | August 19, 2010 4:18 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: dalejohn19 | August 19, 2010 4:27 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: dalejohn19 | August 19, 2010 5:02 AM | Report abuse

"Distractions Not Solutions" -- that has a nice ring to it. Very apt for the GOP in the current media era.

Posted by: JPRS | August 19, 2010 5:09 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: dalejohn19 | August 19, 2010 5:23 AM | Report abuse

Actually, the GOP does have an agenda. The Tea Party has expressed it and embraces that sameness, which is the repeal of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, Equal Rights under Law.

Rand Paul has expressed this ideal; Kentucky GOP candidate, and the Nevada candidate; Tea Party; for the GOP has expressed similar thoughts.

Race, religion, immigration are all covered under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Pay attention if you are going to report on the GOP activities. thank-you.

The GOP agenda is to REPEAL the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, as they perceive it as unfair practices for others. Just ask the Muslims the GOP has TORTURED during the Wars with Iraq and Afghanistan.

Posted by: patmatthews | August 19, 2010 6:04 AM | Report abuse

I have a suggestion of what to do on the mosque issue:
For those who are:
1. Opposing
2. Supporting
3.Sensitive&planning rallies
4. Have the right to build
5. Have the authority to allow the construction to go ahead;
Just put all above-mentioned on a hold until November 3rd. After this date we can start afresh a genuine and sincere discussion!

Posted by: fridamulindayahoocouk | August 19, 2010 6:50 AM | Report abuse

That might just be the funniest premise I've read in a really long long time. The "republicans are using distraction". I have just spit my coffee all over my screen.

The right isn't the party of Alinski's "never let a crisis go to waste". Pretty sure that quote was Rahm Emmanuel's. The addendum to that axiom is "even if you created the crises yourself. Don't worry, the press will never think to investigate or publish it if the stumble across the truth."

Posted by: theduck6 | August 19, 2010 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Great article! I love these posts from the right predicting a landslide victory for the GOP in November. We will see about that!

Posted by: ruthella10 | August 19, 2010 7:17 AM | Report abuse

Add to that liberals' furor over Dr. Laura, Al Sharpton's claim that the Lincoln Memorial is "owned" by the black community on August 28 each year, and Democrats' suggestion that Arizona will become a Nazi state under the new immigration law.

The Post dedicated three editorials and countless op-eds to the "ground zero" mosque this week. It's more than a bit hypocritical for Mr. Capehart to suggest that this vapid trend in politics is a Republican phenomenon.

Posted by: diehardlib | August 19, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

You mean Grand Old Party Of Dealing With Destractions put in play by the Democrat Party of Traitors.Right?

Posted by: Imarkex | August 19, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Is Capeheart attacking conservatives again. Yawn.

Posted by: bobmoses | August 19, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

While you are correct in our conclusion, you must realize that your industry makes the GOP strategy possible. It is always easier to be against something than for something. Will the GOP strategy work? History indicates that this approach has worked for them in the past although it did not work in the 2008 presidential election. How smart are the voters? We will see.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | August 19, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

You mean Grand Old Party Of Dealing With Distractions put in play by the Democrat Party of Traitors.Right?

Posted by: Imarkex | August 19, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

termiteavenger,

Here's the real story on the New Black Panthers Party issue: The Bush administration dropped charges against two of the three individuals involved lack of prosecutable evidence, and an Acting Assistant Attorney General in the Obama administration dropped charges against the remaining individual involved because that official believed there was insufficient evidence to successfully prosecute. There were no "default guilty verdicts" (whatever that term is supposed to mean).

Posted by: jns-alex99 | August 19, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

In other words, the Democrats don't like the issues that Americans care about at the moment, so they want to change the subject.

Posted by: Delongl | August 19, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

While Americans want to focus on job creation, the GOP wastes its time with the NAACP and scraeming about mosques.

The GOP is a joke.

Posted by: FormerRepublicant | August 19, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I think Washington Post writers are now officially working from a template"

"All Republicans want to talk about is XXXXXX. But we have two wars going on and a horrible economy. Republicans shouldn't be talking about XXXXXX.

I will now spend the next 500 words talking about XXXXXX."

[EDITOR'S NOTE TO STAFF WRITERS ON THIS TEMPLATE: Whatever you do, never mention that Democrats have done nothing and have no sane plans to fix the horrible economy, despite the fact that they control the White House and both houses of Congress. Any such comments will be summarily deleted. We must only focus on evil, evil Republicans. God, how we hate them!]

Posted by: etpietro | August 19, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Johnathan for bringing out the facts in this commentary. It seems that race and religion have become the main isues governing all of the conversation these days. When 20% of the people believe that our President is a Muslin that really gets to the heart of the complete idiocy of 20% of the US population. My guess that same percentage is probably "Refublican's" from the south and uneducated, unemployed, fairly low IQ and unemployed. Lets put them to work watching the border in Arizona like the rest of the idiots! FUBAR!

Posted by: drdankan1 | August 19, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Capehart,

I was just looking at the front page of your website and no mention of the 500,000 jobs Obama cost the country last week. The highest level of layoffs in 9 months and still rising.

Who again did you say was trying to change the subject?

Posted by: robtr | August 19, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

God Ordained Pandering.

Posted by: whocares666 | August 19, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly one third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President — slightly higher than the 24% who mistakenly believe that the current occupant of the Oval Office is himself a Muslim.

In all, just 47% of respondents believe Obama is a Christian; 24% declined to respond to the question or said they were unsure, and 5% believe he is neither Christian nor Muslim.

It is Obama's fault for acting so strange. As Jim Morrison observed: People Are Strange!

Posted by: alance | August 19, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Seems to me that the GOP has been depending on emotional wedge issues almost exclusively over the last several decades. True, they have taken this tactic to new heights since Obama took office but it certainly is new.

I think it started with Nixon's Southern Strategy which Reagan refined considerably. The Republicans have been using the gambit ever since.

Posted by: tunkefer | August 19, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Capehart, while I agree the Republicans should be bludgeoning the Democrats with news on the economy (jobless claims up again in the middle of August--welcome to Recovery Summer!), attributing all the hysteria over the events you cited to Republicans is somewhat mispalced. The President himself nationalized the issue of the Ground Zero mosque, not Republicans, which was subsequently used by both sides as a political football. Democrats turned the issue into an argument about First Amendment princple--a red herring and something it was never about. The President voluntarily went counter-majoritarian on that point, so it's no surprise that it created such a ruckus. As for Shirly Sherrod, I recall most of the Republican leadership saying that she got a raw deal. The lesson here is that Democrats are complicit in the mixed message during this election cycle. There are no good guys here.

Posted by: squid1 | August 19, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

And the Democratic plan? - Get us out of a debt crisis by spending more money we don't have? Add to the entitlement overload? Simply brilliant! Thank God for the Republican distractions, the reality is too painful.

What's the plan Obama? More money to teacher's unions?

Posted by: marknelso | August 19, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: hhfgjeytejytketyeuytry | August 19, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Ah me...the Repulsicans are slime bags and the Dummycrats are weenies...wake me up when something new happens.

Posted by: cbl55 | August 19, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

"when it comes to voting, the election is going to be about the economy and jobs." Agreed. So, where are the ideas on that?

Forgive me for climbing atop my hobby horse yet again, but these hot-button distractions let the GOP off the hook. If Republicans want to be entrusted with the majority in the House and possibly the White House in 2012, they have a responsibility to tell the American people what they would do exactly to create jobs and resuscitate the economy."

------------------------------

What are the Dem's saying they will do? Are they shouting from the mountaintops that they will continue doing what they have been doing? How has that worked? All the GOP has to say is - "We won't do what they have been doing." And then point to all of the unpopular crap from the last two years.

Posted by: Holla26 | August 19, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Do I hear "panic" in your editorial tone? You and your Liberals friends just don't get it! We will send the Demon-crats to the slaughter house in November! You in the Press along with your pretty boy there in the White House will get your ass-kicked!

Posted by: davevu | August 19, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Do I hear "panic" in your editorial tone? You and your Liberals friends just don't get it! We will send the Demon-crats to the slaughter house in November! You in the Press along with your pretty boy there in the White House will get your ass-kicked!

Posted by: davevu | August 19, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

This article is right. The gop deals in distractions not in problem solving. They rely on the public being misinformed and being fed nonsense by the news media. The news media bears as much or more of the blame for all of the lies that are out there because it reports on anything as trivial as a snail crossing a road and blows it up. CNN has long ago stopped being a news organization and has become like the national Enquirer of on air news. They report on garbage. Blitzer is the worst.

Posted by: gilliardc | August 19, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

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