Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaking on the economy. (Photo credit: Romney campaign)
The dismal May jobs report underscores the success of the
Republicans' strategy of frustrating President Barack Obama's economic
policies from the second he took office and, in effect, holding the
struggling U.S. economy hostage to GOP electoral victories.
Already, pundits are declaring that the anemic increase of only
69,000 jobs in May will help put Mitt Romney in the White House -- and
that may well be true because the mainstream U.S. press is playing the
disappointing job numbers as proof of Obama's "failed" economic
policies, rather than a result of persistent Republican sabotage.
It doesn't seem to matter to American journalists that the evidence
of this Republican plot to make the U.S. economy "scream" has been out
in the open for the past several years, including author Robert Draper's
of a destroy-Obama strategy session on the night of Obama's
Inauguration and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's famous vow
that the top Republican priority must be ensuring Obama's defeat.
More than two years ago, on March 31, 2010, I wrote that there was "a method to the Republican 'madness,'"
that "the Republicans are following a playbook that has evolved over
more than four decades, to regain power by sabotaging Democratic
"The Republicans believe they can reclaim the
lucrative levers of national authority by making the country as
ungovernable as possible
while a Democrat is in the White House, essentially holding governance
hostage until they are restored to power. Then, the Democrats are
expected to behave as a docile opposition 'for the good of the country'
(and usually do)."
The mainstream U.S. press aids and abets this GOP strategy by
downplaying or ignoring what the Republicans are up to. So, rather than
hold Republicans to account for their sabotage of Obama's efforts to
repair the broken economy left by President George W. Bush, the
mainstream U.S. media follows the GOP narrative that Obama is to blame
for the sputtering job creation.
Similarly, in 2009, the news media bought into the GOP narrative that
Obama was at fault for the "failure" to end partisan bickering in
Washington, though it was clearly the Republicans who were escalating
those partisan wars with attacks on pretty much whatever Obama did. They
even attacked him when he urged American school children to study hard.
The press blamed Obama for the bickering despite the evidence that he
sought bipartisanship even to his own detriment, like when he wasted
time wooing the health-care vote of Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. But the
narrative remains that Obama "failed" at bipartisanship, not that the
Republicans prevented it.
As part of this narrative, the mainstream press even began to act as
if it were normal for the Senate to require 60 votes to pass nearly all
This media pattern is not new, of course. For decades now, national
journalists have been terrified of being labeled "liberal" and facing
right-wing retaliation. It's much safer to just adopt GOP narratives no
matter what the facts are.
So, it's not surprising that the press is forgetting the history of
the past three-plus years, when Republicans first worked to water down
Obama's stimulus package and then did all they could to talk down the
already battered economy.
Plus, at key moments when the economic recovery started to rev up,
such as in early 2011, the Republican saboteurs promptly threw a
debt-default crisis into the gears. Now, right-wing billionaires are
spending millions of dollars in attack ads to further undermine American
confidence in Obama and the economic recovery.
Meanwhile, the American Left remains extremely weak when it comes to
explaining the key role that government must play in a modern economy.
In general, progressives lack anything like the media power of the Right
to reach out to voters.
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History of GOP Sabotage
As we approach the 40th anniversary of the Watergate
break-in, it's worth noting that another part of America's "lost
history" is how these Republican "hostage" strategies can be traced back
to the ruthless tactics of Richard Nixon.
After Nixon's narrow loss to John Kennedy in 1960 and his humiliating
defeat for California governor in 1962, Nixon grew determined to do
whatever was necessary not to lose again.