But there was nothing remotely radical (or even particularly liberal) about Obama’s ideas: tax cuts, many of them business-friendly, and new spending for such exotic projects as, well, schools and roads. As the president said, his proposals had all drawn Republican support in the past.Too little, too late and against an implacable foe that will not yield one inch of their ideological ground. They will die fighting for every scrap of land.
He was, however, talking about a Republican Party that existed before it was taken over by a new sensibility linking radical individualism with a loathing for government that would shock Hamilton, Clay, Lincoln and, for goodness’ sake, Robert Taft.
Thus, the GOP sees the solution to the crisis in the measures its right wing has always favored: gutting regulation, keeping taxes on the affluent low, cutting government programs, and stopping Ben Bernanke and the Fed from doing anything to put the unemployed back to work that might risk the tiniest bit of inflation and thus dilute, even momentarily, the wealth of the already wealthy.
The president seems to have awoken to the danger he faces. In his speech to Congress, he pointedly addressed those who believe “that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everybody’s money, and let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own.” He added: “That’s not who we are. That’s not the story of America.”
But that is precisely who most of the Republican Party now thinks we are.