October 27, 2006
Boy Genius Going Down

This is neither hypocrisy nor a pipe:

While Republicans scratch their heads over why a seemingly good economy is not helping them nationally in this year’s elections, Michigan is where the party once hoped a bad economy would help it seize a governorship.

Yeah, the Republic party says, the top one percent of Americans are doing great. Why don’t the rest of the folks appreciate that? It worked for Ross Perot: how many beat-up pickups did you see sporting bumper stickers affirming the conviction that a billionaire who gave money to Oliver North wanted to help the little guy? If the Texas twang and the fascist ideology worked for Ross, why won’t it work for Shrub and his minions? (Maybe it was the ears.)

Everyone wants to reward wealth, because everyone thinks they’ll eventually be wealthy — though they don’t know anyone who made that journey personally. As Mark Twain said, the lottery is a tax on people who don’t understand statistics, and the American economy is pretty much the same deal.

Problem for the Republic party is, people seemed to have learned. And the old pyramid scheme isn’t working as well as it used to.

The heavy hits sustained by the auto industry’s Big Three have left the state with a 7.1 percent unemployment rate, just below the 7.2 percent rate for Mississippi, which endured Hurricane Katrina. The job hemorrhage seemed the ideal issue for billionaire businessman Dick DeVos, the Republican nominee, against Gov. Jennifer Granholm. She is a nationally respected Democrat who many think would have made a fine presidential candidate if only she had not been born in Canada.

DeVos, a conservative whose wealth comes from his family company, Amway, is auditioning for her job by insisting, Kennedy-style, that Michigan can do better. “We have gone backward while the country has gone forward,” he said during a debate on Monday. “It’s just unacceptable.”

Tying himself to this season’s most popular institution in the state, he said earlier this month: “If we need inspiration, look at the Detroit Tigers. They’ve succeeded against all odds because they changed leadership and changed their attitude.”

That’s it, baseball. It worked for Shrub. Distracts the people who’ve lost their jobs, and makes them love the Owners (using that word in the most expansive sense).

“My opponent began advertising way back in February trying to put the blame for Michigan’s economic contraction on me,” [Granholm] said in a telephone interview, “when most people who work in the plants know that the shift of jobs to India or China is much more the result of federal policy and these trade agreements.”

While Granholm has been helped by ads sharply attacking DeVos, the exchange between the two is at its heart a substantive choice between the challenger’s tax-cutting approach and the incumbent’s argument that recovery can come only from changes in federal policy.

What the Republic party still doesn’t seem to get is that if you’ve lost your job to outsourcing, a tax cut for millionaires doesn’t help you. It’s understandable that even such intelligent folks as the Rove crew would have trouble with subtle calculations like that. So you’ve gotta feel for someone whose family made an honest fortune through the Amway scamway, who’s being screwed by his party’s leadership.

Maybe he should leave pyramid scams and start supporting something useful. Yeah, that’ll happen.

In Michigan’s Senate race, anti-administration feeling has also helped incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow, once considered vulnerable, to a double-digit lead in most polls over Republican Mike Bouchard. In an unusual display of solidarity between senatorial and gubernatorial candidates, Stabenow and Granholm regularly reinforce each other’s arguments.

“We have a national policy that says if you work for less, lose your health care and lose your pension, then we can compete,” Stabenow says of the status quo. “The No. 1 way we could help employers in this country is to change the way we fund health care.”

At least it looks like the Boy Genius and his Frankenstein (“that’s Frank-en-steen”) are becoming persona non grata.

The president came into the state yesterday on behalf of Stabenow’s opponent, and that’s just fine with her. “I would welcome him back three or four times before the election,” she says.
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Posted by Chuck Dupree at October 27, 2006 11:13 PM
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I think another thing Devos was playing on was a mis-trust of women in leadership. People are hurting in Mich, especially factory workers. It is easy to blame women who have entered the workforce and taken your job. Now women are trying to run the show. Who knows what will happen next?, your own wife might get uppity.
The religious conservatives with their patriachal view that women may not have headship in the church or family, cannot like seeing women in headship roles in government. Hopefully the majority of people in Mich will be too smart for this mysoginist impulse. If Granholm were a man with her charisma, looks, and record she would be having a much easier time. And the Republicans would have had to run a much more credible candidate. Simply having "a man" wouldn't have been seen as a worthwhile plan.

Posted by: peon on October 31, 2006 12:53 PM
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