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E.J. Dionne Jr.
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Monday 26 March 2012
“Conservatives will need an exceptionally powerful Etch a Sketch to wipe the nation’s memory clean of the education it received during the 2012 campaign’s most enlightening week so far.”

The Right’s Etch a Sketch Imperative

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Clarifying moments are rare in politics. They are the times when previously muddled issues are cast into sharp relief and citizens get a chance to look past the spin and obfuscation.

Americans were blessed with three such moments last week.

Rep. Paul Ryan made absolutely clear that he is not now and never was interested in deficit reduction. After a couple of years of being lauded by deficit hawks as the man prepared to make hard choices, he proposed a budget that would not end deficits until 2040 but would cut taxes by $4.6 trillion over a decade while also extending all of the Bush tax cuts, adding an additional $5.4 trillion to the deficit. Ryan would increase military expenditures and then eviscerate the rest of the federal government.

Oh yes, Ryan claims he’d make up for the losses from his new tax cuts with “tax reform” but offered not a single detail. A “plan” with a hole this big is not a plan at all. Ryan’s main interest is in cutting the top income tax rate to 25 percent from the current 35 percent. His message: Solving the deficit problem isn’t nearly as important as (1) continuing and expanding benefits for the wealthy and (2) disabling the federal government.

Robert Greenstein, president of the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, is tough on deficits, careful in his use of numbers, and measured in his choice of words. These traits make his assessment of Ryan’s proposal all the more instructive.

“It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history),” Greenstein wrote. “Specifically, the Ryan budget would impose extraordinary cuts in programs that serve as a lifeline for our nation’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens, and over time would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their health insurance or become underinsured.”

Thanks to Ryan, we now know that this election is not about deficits at all. It is about whether we will respond to growing inequalities of wealth and income by creating even larger inequalities of wealth and income.

Last week the nation also focused seriously on the “Stand Your Ground” laws that the National Rifle Association has pushed through in state after state. These statutes came to wide attention because of the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager.

George Zimmerman, the man who pulled the trigger, was not under serious investigation until there was a national outcry because under the Florida law, a citizen has a right to use “force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

These laws perfectly reflect the NRA’s utopia. No longer will we count on law enforcement to preserve the peace. Instead, we will build a society where all citizens are armed and encouraged to take the law into their own hands. If you feel threatened, just shoot.

Since when did conservatives start believing that laws should be based on “feelings” and subjective judgments? What kind of civilization does this create? Surely this moment should inspire the peaceable majority to challenge the entire gun lobby worldview — and that most certainly includes the legions of timid Democrats who have been cowed by the NRA.

There was, finally, that toy metaphor from Eric Fehrnstrom, a top aide to Mitt Romney. Asked on CNN if the primary campaign had forced Romney “to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election,” Fehrnstrom replied that “everything changes” after the primaries. “It’s almost like an Etch a Sketch,” he added, “you can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.”

The context matters because Romney later said Fehrnstrom was talking about post-primary changes that would be made “organizationally,” a claim that is plainly untrue. Ironically, the semi-denial reinforced the lesson Fehrnstrom taught: To win, Romney is willing to change not only his own positions but also reality itself.

Conservatives will need an exceptionally powerful Etch a Sketch to wipe the nation’s memory clean of the education it received during the 2012 campaign’s most enlightening week so far.

© , Washington Post Writers Group


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ABOUT E.J. Dionne Jr.

E.J. Dionne writes about politics in a twice-weekly column and on the PostPartisan blog. He is also a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a government professor at Georgetown University and a frequent commentator on politics for National Public Radio, ABC’s “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Before joining The Post in 1990 as a political reporter, Dionne spent 14 years at the New York Times, where he covered politics and reported from Albany, Washington, Paris, Rome and Beirut. He is the author of four books: “Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith & Politics After the Religious Right” (2008), “Stand Up Fight Back: Republican Toughs, Democratic Wimps, and the Politics of Revenge” (2004), “They Only Look Dead: Why Progressives Will Dominate The Next Political Era” (1996), and “Why Americans Hate Politics” (1991), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a National Book Award nominee. Dionne grew up in Fall River, Mass., attended Harvard College and was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford. He lives in Bethesda, Md., with his wife and three children.

I know it's considered

I know it's considered hyperbolic to use the word fascism to describe American right-wing policies, but the policies Mr. Dionne is describing are the definition of fascism: the perfect integration of corporate and military power, sold to citizens as a near-religious nationalism. Anti-Semitism was a feature of the Nazi brand, but not central to Mussolini's ideas. In other words, just because people like Ryan are not anti-Semitic, doesn't mean they are not fascist.

Ryan, just like his fellow

Ryan, just like his fellow Wisconsin thug Walker is a liar and a thief. The state is deeper in debt now than ever before, and it's folks like these two and their Rethuglican cronies who are to blame.

Wish someone told me where

Wish someone told me where and when the next Great Giveaway’s gonna take place? Bush’s Tax Cuts have handed trillions to the 1% so far. Their coffers are bursting. Rumors run our neighborhood billionaire’s handing out $1000-bills and jobs to us and every other neighbor. Fox News and the GOP know place and time--but refuse to tell--of next Giveaway as vendors of Trickle-Down: That tax cuts to the rich mean jobs and money to the 99%. Just asking, what happened to the trillions? Where’s the jobs? Where’s the dough? Can someone tell us?

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