Sen. Barrasso: Grandma or The Big Bad Wolf?

I got a fund-raising letter from John Barrasso, boasting that he is now regarded as the “most conservative member of the U.S. Senate.” Hmmm, I wonder why a smart, moderate, articulate centrist decided to vie for that designation.

Crude analogies come to mind.

John blames the deficit on President Obama. He invokes Ronnie Reagan’s vision of a “shining city on a hill,” all populist imagery and no substance. John stresses accountability and honesty and being frank with the voters, yet he perpetuates the Reagan myth that supply-side economics would raise all boats and generate more tax revenue by cutting taxes and stimulating wealth. The myth was busted and Reagan forgot to stabilize taxes, so the deficit mushroomed.

Bill Clinton and his select Wall Street experts balanced the budget, but no one had time to notice because they were too distracted by Whitewater scandal myth and Monica Lewinsky.

Returning to the history of deficits and Presidents: after Clinton, the GOP reincarnates a drug-addled party boy who managed to mess up a major league baseball team, sends him to therapy and church, and reclaims the right to slash the daylights out of taxes and spend money like non-rehabilitated sailors, thus to generate both a massive federal deficit and a financial crisis so scary it raised investors from their graves.

Oh wait, say readers on hyperbole patrol: raising dead from their graves? That’s too much. Only voodoo worshipers do that. But, don’t I recall, George W’s smart dad ran against Ronnie, accusing him of, well, “voodoo economics.” When was that, 1980? George H. W. was right, to no avail, as first Ronnie and then George’s own son succumbed to the voodoo, 20 years apart with identical disastrous results. Voodoo in 2004-08: It raised the traders at the investment banks; I don’t know about the dead.

Nonpartisan reality commercial break: The country is broke. Cut spending, cut borrowing, raise revenue.  Repeat after me: Cut spending (including defense and social spending), cut borrowing, raise revenue (taxes and user fees, such as mineral royalties).

So along comes John Barrasso, a likable, charming guy whose television health care series really is a public service. He touts honesty, honored only in the breach. (Gee we could do a rhyme here with trout and the beach.) It’s not honest or accountable to blame Obama for the financial crisis or the federal deficit. Even W blanched in the face of total Wall Street meltdown and passed the massive TROUT program. Taxpayers Retching Over Outlandish Greed.

(Oh, we got the Sage Grouse now, say alert readers, as well as the comatose ones: “Greed” doesn’t begin with “T.” Everyone knows that TARP begins with “T.”)  Okay, it was TARP. Taxpayers Accepting Responsibility for (Fiscal/Monetary/Economic/IPO/Profit) Prostitution. Is that better?

Anyway, this happened on W’s watch. (In nautical terms, doesn’t “watch” imply wakefulness while on duty? Maybe not. Recall when W choked and nearly died while eating “pretzels” while watching “sports” on television alone in a locked room. No witnesses. More crude analogies come to mind. Monica, where did you go?)

Returning to Barrasso. We can assume that he wakefully watched Reagan triple the national debt, Clinton rein it in, then W just explode in ecstasy as he gave all the tax breaks to Wall Street and screwed the little guy, all the while boasting of solid conservative principles. Does John really buy into this as valuable public policy? Or has he decided that lazy pandering to the far right is the cheapest easiest way to win re-election? This is Voodoo Economics Three, folks. Accountability, Senator, please. You are a guy with talent and charm, who could use the force, rise above the fray, temper the extremes, forge good policy. But no. You defect to the Dark Side, preaching revisionism as truth and history.

History deployed in the service of electoral politics is always revisionist, isn’t it?

Remember, we studied Russian civics in high school, always mocking the Soviet teaching of revisionism? Look where it got them.

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Published on June 7, 2011

{ 7 comments }

Bill Mitchell June 7, 2011 at 10:14 pm

RT, You are doing me proud with the clarity of your political analysis. It applies to politicians in a number of states as well as our cast of bozos running for the Republican nomination. Thanks Bill Mitchell

bill welles June 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm

RT:

Recently I reread a poem by Richard Hugo,’Letter to Gildner from Wallace’ in which he writes: “—one thing about politicians, they can never be whores, they’re not honest enough. They screw men in ways that only satisfy themselves.—”.
Granted, he was writing about the bordellos in Wallace and how they were closed to accommodate the building of I-90; but his thought strikes a familiar chord……
As Albert Einstein stated; “—We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

leslie petersen June 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Not only has John gone off the deep end to the right, but he’s become hostile to everyone who questions him or disagrees with him. We sat next to them at a roast for Governor Freudenthal and the chill from him was palpable, though Bobbie (his nice “wife”) was very cordial. That is unusual in Wyoming in my experience. I used to have respect and appreciation for him. Perhaps he’s hopes to be a Vice-President like Cheney, though I think the currents are beginning to flow away from the hard right now. I’m wondering whether Bob Grady is planning something in the political arena?

Woody Wheeler June 7, 2011 at 10:27 am

RT,

Great analysis of the last few decades of U.S. political history! Seems like a number of potentially thoughtful, productive centrists have been co-opted by the extreme right wing. Maybe they have to sign a vow to become certified (certifiable) conservative nut-jobs in order to receive GOP backing? Too bad for our democracy, and a waste of talent.

JDB June 7, 2011 at 9:55 am

If you want to know exactly how wretched Barrasso is, call in to one of his town hall meetings. The one I listened to, he pandered to the fears of the elderly, birthers, and every other fringe right nutcake who wanted to ask a question. He thrives like most by using the politics of distraction and there is not one honest bone in his body. Did anyone watch his show with the senator from OK called the “Doctors”? I would like for him to explain how his being a doctor means he understands accounting? How does it qualify him to contradict the CBO in matters of healthcare reform? It’s like those 80′s commercials where an actor put on a lab coat to sell over the counter medicine. Y’all remember those commercials? They contained tiny text that said “Not a real doctor.” The next time John throws on his stethoscope and starts talking about government expenditures, he should have to put the words “Not a trained accountant” across his smug face.

He only has one thing going for him, and that is: At least he’s not Cynthia Lummis.

Lee Underbrink June 7, 2011 at 8:23 am

John, I know you can do it. The replacement knees you gave me are now almost 15 years old. You are intelligent and eager but why use all of it to fight every Democratic idea? There is a brighter future for you if you will but realize that some other ideas, other than your own, might work.

Thomas Tisthammer June 7, 2011 at 7:37 am

JB is hardly unique in Wyoming politics. There seems to be a contest among both our state and local politicians to see who can achieve the position that is the most remote from reality. I’m still trying to understand what local Wyoming interests are represented by the group we send to Washington. It certainly isn’t the group of working (or presently unemployed) folks that hope for enough diversification in Wyoming’s economy that their kids can find a job without having to leave the state after graduation.

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