25 February, 2010

Push Me Pull You

There are a few things in life that really shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone who has been able to read for more than a couple of years, but still each new example manages to astound with its jaw-dropping WTF-ness.  Such things may include celebrity drug habits, executive salary excesses, and the utter shamelessness of the American right wing.

I found a prime example of the latter, which fell off the back of an email, a couple of weeks ago.  It is a begging letter and push-poll from the Republican National Committee, soliciting help for the “Second Republican Revolution.” 

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, a “push poll” is a poll designed not to canvas opinion, but to plant an idea.  A particularly blatant example would go something like this:

Question:  If you learnt that Mayor Joe Quimby had an affair with an underage girl, would that make you more or less likely to vote for him?
[  ] More likely  [  ] Less Likely  [  ] Unsure

This cannot be considered slander or libel because they never actually said that Quimby had an affair with anyone.  They’re simply asking what the voter would think if such a situation happened.  I mean, they’re just asking a question man – what’s your problem?  But even though nothing was alleged, the participant still comes away thinking, “Joe Quimby had an affair with an underage girl?”

But before we get to the survey, we have the introductory letter from Michael Steele, where he says that the 2010 election is the most important for the Republicans since 1994 which sounds like a tacit admission that they took the seven Congressional elections since for granted.
(click image for a larger version)

Referring to what they called the “Republican revolution,” Steele says,
“in 1994, the Republican Party worked hand in hand with grassroots activists and concerned citizens to organize a massive rejection on Election Day of the Democrats’ wrong-headed policies.

It was this high level of organization that allowed Republicans  to take advantage of the unpopularity of Democrat (sic) policies and take control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.”
To misquote Sarah Palin misquoting a t-shirt, how’d that work out for ya?

They spent the first six years of their majority doing everything they could to personally destroy Bill Clinton, a man who actually balanced the budget, and the next six years rubber-stamping the Bush administration’s outrageous spending, then the following two years trying to make bogeymen out of Nancy Pelosi and the spineless Harry Reid for not supporting some of that spending.  The Republican revolutionaries’ excuse for that was that (everyone say it with me) “nine eleven changed everything.”  Somewhere along the line though, things must have changed back, because they all woke up on January 21st last year and said, “Holy shit!  We got a deficit!”

There was another name for the Republican win in 1994.  That was the “Contract with America.”  I wonder why they’re not as keen to revive that slogan.  Could it be because it would be an open invitation for people to mention how the 1994 contract was breached?  I’m just asking the question.  And while we know that all political parties subsist on donations, is there not just a skerrick of irony in the party of hard work and free enterprise, the party of capitalism, touting for donations in this fashion?

So that brings us to the survey, such as it is.  I could write fourteen separate articles on what is wrong with each question but I will give you credit that you can see it for yourself.  Just look at Question 2:
“Do you believe the Democrats are working towards a single-payer health care system that will ration care, increase waiting times and deny treatment?”
Note how often the word “believe” is used in these questions.  Many people may believe these things but that does not make them true.  The Republican party knows it’s in their interest for people to believe these things, which is why the questions are worded so as to perpetuate misunderstandings and outright lies.  Health care in America is already rationed and treatment denied – by insurance companies.  If this questionnaire is anything to go by, the RNC doesn’t seem too bothered about that.

They talk of the “trillion dollar deficits that Obama is running,” without any mention that Bush ran trillion dollar deficits and the Republican congress said nothing about it.  Then there is “Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency,” which is exactly the same agency that has existed under every president since Nixon, but now it’s “Obama’s.”

Question 7 asked whether holding the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammad in a New York civilian court strengthens or weakens American security against terrorist attacks.  Anyone with a clue about national security would say it makes no difference either way.  The RNC is not interested in hearing from anyone with a clue because, unlike all the other questions, there isn’t an “unsure” option.  If they were really interested in ways to secure against terrorism, they should have asked how keeping KSM in Guantanamo would have saved the people in the Echelon building in Austin.  That would do for Question 9 as well.

Questions 10 and 11 would actually be fair questions if they had been asked straight instead of leading the participant with descriptions.  Would they not oppose conservative nominees, or is any Obama nominee, ipso facto liberal?  Is drilling in Alaska (and thereby prolonging dependence on a resource that we know for certain is going to run out one day) the only way to increase America’s energy independence?  Or do they just want you to think it is?

No, the only answers they are really interested in are the last three.  They want to know if people are voting, how much crossover there is between average Republicans and the teabag brigade, and how best to reach them.  That’s the “hard numerical data,” they want and the rest is just a bunch of scaremongering about a “dangerous left-wing agenda.” 

The fact that they have no interest in what party members actually think about the issues is proven over the page on the donations form.  It’s not enough to contribute just because one is a Republican, or believes that a strong, loyal opposition is vital to a robust democracy.  No, in order to donate, one has to sign one’s name to a fawning letter addressed to Michael Steele that talks of Democrats “forcing their socialist agenda on America.” 

If I were a Republican, I would be disgusted and insulted by this.

And before anyone tries to tell me that that’s because I’m a hippy, Aussie, pinko, lefty who just doesn’t get it, let me just point out that this letter was forwarded to me by a Republican who was disgusted and insulted by it.  Furthermore, it’s a Republican who has absolutely NO time for Obama.

I am not claiming a representative sample size but common sense tells us that the more the Republicans pitch themselves at the paranoid fringes of the party, the more they are going to lose the conservative centre that helped Obama win in 2008.

This may already be happening, because another survey and pre-written love letter arrived a couple of weeks later.

Note the careful wording in Question 2, which allows the participant to bemoan the Obama bail-out without having to equally criticise the Bush bail-outs.
Whether this second letter came as a result of my correspondent not replying to the first one, cannot be known.  So I’ll just ask the question:

How’s that secondy revolutiony stuff workin’ out for ya?

Is anyone surprised about THIS?


  1. American politics has reached the point where each side will fight as hard as they can to oppose the other no matter what the issue or who it benefits. This public option thing doesn't make any sense to me. Why would anybody oppose more options? Do they really want fewer choices or do they only oppose it because the other side supports it?

    Somebody said if the Democrats really want to fix health cover they should say they're against it. Then the Republicans would be sure to support it.

    I'd like to see if Democratic surveys are just as bad as this one.

  2. So would I. It wouldn't suprise me if they were but equally, there's always been a "jocks vs nerds" vibe going on between the Republicans and the Democrats. While the Republicans oversimplify everything, the Democrats tend to give so much detail that's it's confusing to a lot of voters, and they end up voting for whoever sounds the most like John Wayne.