I don’t know if you watched Barack Obama’s speech accepting the Democratic nomination for President last night. I watched every minute of it, and it made me prouder than ever to be one of his supporters. It was a very unique combination of inspiring rhetoric, stinging rebukes, witty one-liners, and specific, concrete policy. I think most Democrats would agree with me, that it was a masterful speech by a masterful speaker.
Clearly, though, Republicans don’t want to admit that anything Obama says or does has any substance, because then they would have to admit that there are genuine problems facing America. That’s why David Brooks, for example, lampoons the speech as though it were nothing but flowery words, because he can’t face the fact that it forces McCain’s campaign to stop the ad hominem attacks and campaign on the issues, or else admit that they don’t think there are any issues at all, thank you very much.
I think Paul Krugman hit the nail on the head, that Republicans really think there is nothing wrong in America, that we’re all just suffering from a “mental recession,” as Phil Gramm put it. But I don’t think it’s because they are disconnected from it, or isolated from the effects, so much as they steadfastly refuse to see the reality. I think it’s because, if they are forced to admit that there are problems, then they have to confront the reality that right-wing ideology is the cause of so many of them. So they are stuck in a moment of cognitive dissonance, unable to admit that things need fixing, because they can’t confront the cause. They can’t admit that the housing market is in shambles because of ideologically-driven, reckless deregulation. They can’t admit that gasoline is $4 a gallon because they have stood in the way of any attempts to curb demand for oil via improved fuel economy standards or clean energy production. They can’t admit that the people of New Orleans lost their city because they under-funded levee maintenance, or that they still haven’t been able to rebuild because FEMA doesn’t have the funds to do its job properly. They can’t admit that our economy is in shambles, along with our reputation around the world, because of a disastrous, immoral, mismanaged war. They can’t admit that our ability to create good jobs here in the U.S. has been demolished by tax policy that rewards off-shoring. And when they can’t even admit the causes, is it any wonder that they have no solutions?