Frank Rich: With GOP lost and ‘adrift from reality’, what will Obama do?

Frank Rich: With GOP lost and ‘adrift from reality’, what will Obama do?

Frank Rich raises a key question:

An opposition this adrift from reality — whether about Obama’s birth certificate, history unfolding in the Middle East or the consequences of a federal or state government shutdown — is a paper tiger. It’s a golden chance for the president to seize the moment. What we don’t know is if he sees it that way.

Rich nicely documents that drift:

Glenn Beck’s ratings at Fox News continued their steady decline, falling to an all-time low last month. He has lost 39 percent of his viewers in a year and 48 percent of the prime 25-to-54 age demographic. His strenuous recent efforts to portray the Egyptian revolution as an apocalyptic leftist-jihadist conspiracy have inspired more laughs than adherents.

Sarah Palin’s tailspin is also pronounced. It can be seen in polls, certainly: the ABC News-Washington Post survey found that 30 percent of Americans approved of her response to the Tucson massacre and 46 percent did not. (Obama’s numbers in the same poll were 78 percent favorable, 12 percent negative.) But equally telling was the fate of a Palin speech scheduled for May at a so-called Patriots & Warriors Gala in Glendale, Colo.

Tickets to see Palin, announced at $185 on Jan. 16, eight days after Tucson, were slashed to half-price in early February. Then the speech was canceled altogether, with the organizers blaming “safety concerns resulting from an onslaught of negative feedback.” But when The Denver Post sought out the Glendale police chief, he reported there had been no threats or other causes for alarm. The real “negative feedback” may have been anemic ticket sales, particularly if they were to cover Palin’s standard $100,000 fee.

Click through for the links that justify those numbers — they’re real.

Rich’s answer to the question of “what will Obama do?” is not mine, however. For Rich, Obama “coasts” at these junctures or “lapses into a pro forma bipartisanship” that amounts to “inertia”. We should be so lucky.

Unfortunately, there’s been much talk about a “Grand Bargain“. You know, where Obama takes the money-fueled Elevator to 2012, and we take the Shaft, in the form of cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other things we need.

In other words, I fear an emboldened Obama, not an inertiated one; an Obama who will do unto us (to the third generation) what he and his class would never do unto themselves — cut their income and wealth.

Watch this Grand Bargain as it unfolds. Elizabeth Drew in the New York Review of Books:

But despite all the confrontational rhetoric between the two parties about budget priorities, the White House and Republican congressional leaders, in private talks, have agreed on the need to try to reach a bipartisan “grand bargain” over the budget—a sweeping deal that could include entitlements and tax reforms as well as budget reduction. A Senate Republican leadership aide confirmed this, saying, “In fact, for anything to happen, it will require such a White House/congressional leadership bargain.” The preferred idea is that, just as they did late last year on the tax bill, they would reach an agreement and then unveil it to the public.

Mind you, this isn’t a deal between Obama and the rest of us; not even between Obama’s class and ours. It’s a deal between Obama and Mitch McConnell only, one where Obama thinks he gets a deficit pass in the coming$1 billion election, and McConnell knows he gets to paint Obama as the first “Democrat” president to attack “your” Social Security.

It’s a deal only a Puppet Master could love. I fear that Obama. I’d kiss the Pope’s ring to get Rich’s.

A note about means testing Social Security. Many have noted that there’s no money in it. But that’s not the worst — means-testing takes a program you’ve already given to, and makes you re-earn your right to get back from it. In other words, it changes the program fundamentally — from a pre-paid insurance program to welfare you have to be a “loser” to receive.

And we all know what “losers” deserve in these United States. Just ask Rick Santelli.


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