Last week, hot on the heels of the Congressional debt-ceiling fiasco and the ensuing stock market drop, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of the United States of America from AAA to AA+, and placed the ailing superpower on “CreditWatch with negative implications.”
The reactions of American politicians to the unprecedented event have been what you would expect (e.g. Mitt Romney’s: “America’s creditworthiness just became the latest casualty of President Obama’s failed leadership on the economy”). So too have been those of the rightbloggers, but they are even more eager to demand a continuation of the disastrous reforms that precipitated last week’s downgrade.
It’s like someone who cracked up his car saying from his hospital bed, “Maybe I should have taken that turn a little faster.”
When it was just a rumor, some Wall Street folks, perhaps in denial, thought a downgrade was unlikely. “We think they’re unlikely to follow through on the threat of a downgrade,” said Morgan Stanley’s David Greenlaw, “as long as [politicians] give them something they can hang their hat on.” The Wall Street Journal‘s Mark Gongloff was bullish: “Are the rating agencies really prepared to pull the trigger on a downgrade and suffer the avalanche of political fury that will come their way as a result?”
But some Tea Party types thought a downgrade would be a wonderful thing. As far back as April, when S&P was sending downgrade signals with a change of U.S. status from “stable” to “negative,” Tea Partiers like GOP Congressman Blake Farenthold called it “a vindication of the Tea Party and its stance that we’re spending too much.”
“S&P didn’t mention the debt ceiling in it’s downgrade announcement,” said Liberty Works. “… less spending is the only way to prevent the debt from growing to high enough, with risk of default great enough to drive away investors.” “Here again the free market trumps the gov’s BS by telling them that their money and budget politics stink!” cried Tea Party Colorado. “To understand the ridiculousness of those !@#$#@! in Washington, please click HERE to view this quick 98 second video. Please don’t vote for any of these disgusting !@#$#@! Just buy silver and wait.”
As the debt ceiling crisis grew and downgrade got closer, TP people remained largely sanguine about the prospect.
“So long as anything passes by some self-designated date of the latest self-designated end-of-the-world crisis,” said Paul Gable of Brushfires of Freedom, “then the media will go to work explaining to the American people that their ruling class has saved them once again; that the most godless intellectuals among the ruling class (almost all Democrats) are the real saviors in the process,” etc.
Conversely, if a downgrade came, said Gable, America would finally be made to face hard truths: namely, “whatever happens in the financial markets, and whatever labels are assigned to the ‘rating’ or ‘quality’ of US government debt, it is the current ruling class that has been and is being thoroughly downgraded by the American people (and really, by all people of decency and good faith)…”
But “Tea Party America is not going to be downgraded or depressed or defeated,” rose Gable’s voice, “no matter what Obama or Reid or Boehner come up with, no matter how the media spins it… Truth doesn’t collapse, and is never downgraded… America will emerge better and brighter for having gone through it.” Enjoy your cleansing economic collapse! It’s all for the best.
When the downgrade came, RedState’s Erick Erickson announced, “Left Rushes to Blame the GOP for S&P Downgrade.” Actually it was S&P who blamed, explicitly, the Republicans (“We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act”); the “Left” was just pointing this out. (We wonder if any of them included quotes from Erickson’s July 25 column, entitled “Speaker Boehner Commits Us To A Credit Downgrade.”)
But Erickson had an explanation — at least we think that’s what this is meant to be:
“The issue here, however, is that while present law presumed the GOP tax cuts would go away,” said Erickson, “the policy presumption is that they would get extended. Likewise, this is not blaming the GOP. This is a statement of reality that the GOP wasn’t going to raise taxes. Consequently, because the GOP refused to raise taxes, the alternative needed to be more cuts.”
So far, so incoherent — which we assume was the intention, like throwing sand in someone’s eyes before making a getaway. At least what Erickson said next resembled English:
“And S&P clearly believes that the cuts the debt deal made were not enough. And who opposed big cuts? Why yes, a guy named Barack Obama and the Democrats.” We think we get it: though S&P complained there were too few tax revenues, they can’t have meant it, because Republicans simply can’t raise taxes, so Erickson is sure they really meant to blame Obama, who agreed to spending cuts but, um, hey look [throws sand]. Erickson is also a commentator for CNN.
John Podhoretz got in on this, too, with “The U.S. Is Downgraded, and Obama Will Be Too” at Commentary. “There’s truth to the Leftist charge that the conservative Republican decision to use the debt ceiling fight as leverage to force a cut in the national debt at a particularly risky time was unsound,” he allowed. “But that is nothing next to the liberal fantasy that the U.S. can stay on its current course — the most destructive notion in present-day politics.” One wonders why S&P hadn’t thought to downgrade us much sooner, then, instead of immediately after the debt-ceiling fiasco. (Scheduling conflict?)
“But the ideological stalemate does not mean the political fallout will be evenly distributed,” continued Podhoretz. “This is a colossal disaster for Barack Obama, and anybody who says otherwise is kidding himself or trying to spin you.” Fortunately we have John Podhoretz to counteract this spin: “But now the GOP has an overarching theme that I predict will be at the core of a $500 million advertising campaign: ‘America needs its good name back.'” $500 million might not be enough, but there are plenty of possible funding sources; we suggest the tagline be delivered by John Boehner, just to drive the point home.
The Washington Examiner‘s Philip Klein agreed that “it will be difficult for President Obama to escape blame for this.” Klein’s reasoning was largely mystical: “Obama was elected president at a time when Americans felt the nation was in decline,” he wrote, “and his central job was restore their faith that our best days were ahead of us, as President Reagan did after the Carter era.” Though Obama, like Reagan, ran up large deficits, he didn’t have as much money to play with as Reagan, nor is he a Republican; thus, “the sense of decline has only deepened during the Obama presidency,” judged Klein, “and the first-ever downgrade of U.S. credit, whatever its ultimate financial implications, is yet another symbol of that decline.” Similarly, when Casey Anthony got off, that was a symbol of the judicial decline that has disastrously affected America’s faith in the Supreme Court.
Naturally Democrats didn’t see things the same way, which was offered as proof that they had something to hide. “The partisan left — and the establishment media supporting it — naturally seeks a short-term advantage from the event,” said Karl of Patterico’s Pontifications. “…They will hide behind S&P’s curious refusal to identify the Democrats as the chief obstacle to entitlement reform…”
We hoped that last bit would lead to an Obama/S&P conspiracy theory, but Karl spent most of the remainder of his post attacking “the Obama Administration and the ideological left” for their “hysterical attacks,” “infantile, illogical, ad hominem attacks,” etc, because some of them questioned the authority of Standard & Poor’s to dictate U.S. policy. “In sum, the S&P downgrade marks a post on the road where progressive demagogy loses its power,” said Karl rather hopefully. “The downgrade marks a post on the road to extinction for 19th-20th century progressivism.”
He was far from the only rightblogger who thought the downgrade meant America needed still more extreme conservative policies in Washington.
FrontPage Magazine’s Arnold Ahlert found America “Downgraded & Degraded” and claimed that “many Americans have lost sight of the reality that government functions best from the local level outward, not the national level inward…. The monumental immorality of a country in which half its population is tethered to a government underwritten by the other half must also be addressed.” So the downgrade wasn’t the fault of risky Republican brinksmanship, but of those elderly mooches on Social Security, etc.
“On the revenue side…” Ahlert then began — but if you expected this to be followed by a suggestion that taxes be raised, even on billionaires, you would be disappointed: “… fundamental tax reform, as opposed to class warfare,” Ahlert continued, “must be undertaken.” This meant mostly “eliminating loopholes,” which would “give Americans the sense that everyone is paying their ‘fair share'” — the economic force of this assurance, alas, was not quantified — and “all increases in [government] spending limited to a fixed percentage of GDP.” What should definitely be avoided, Ahlert said, was “brow-beating the wealth-producers, as opposed to providing them with incentive” — since presumably the hard words suffered by the wealthy had put them in a Galtian funk from which only further tax cuts can rouse them.
In support of his analysis, Ahlert quoted a trusted conservative source: “China’s state-run newspaper, Xinhua News Agency, explained exactly what our current dilemma necessitates. ‘To cure its addiction to debts, the United States has to re-establish the common sense principle that one should live within its means,’ it said.” We’ve sure come a long way from when conservatives tried to keep Red China out of the UN.
“Our ‘full faith and credit’ wasn’t going to be destroyed by not raising the debt ceiling,” said Say Anything. “It’s being destroyed by run-away deficit spending… The only solution is cuts.”
“The Downgrade is the fault of ObamaCare,” concluded Tony Katz of the PJ Tatler. “ObamaCare ruins everything it touches. First doctors, then patients, now the credit rating of the United States.”
Invoking the wisdom of Donald Trump and Las Vegas’ Steve Wynn, littletboca of RedState called on Congress to “remove the strangle hold big Government has on businesses, repeal Obamacare and lower taxes,” by means of which “a healthy environment for all businesses would be created allowing them to expand, grow and hire.”
Claudia Rosett even saw a “virtue of the S&P downgrade” in that it might “concentrate voters’ minds on how to get that AAA rating back” — assuming most of them know what “AAA” or “S&P” mean. Her prescription was, of course, to cut spending, not raise taxes, and get rid of “Big Brother” government programs like student loans.
When people began to make a connection between the Tea Party’s ferocious anti-government rhetoric, the Congressional lunacy of the previous week, and the S&P downgrade, rightbloggers went apeshit.
“Tea Party Downgrades All Government Tyrants,” hollered Joyanna Adams. “Let the tea party people keep on being a tireless ‘minority’ and hopefully set some nuclear brushfires in the minds of the rest of the world.” “All these Marxists can pound sand… Asshats,” cried NoisyRoom. “Do not be led down the dark, smoky path of the Alinsky-ite Obama minions,” roared And So It Goes in Shreveport. “The Tea Party faction held the line as best they could.”
“Can you even imagine blaming a rape victim for being raped, or a terrorist victim for being murdered by terrorists?” asked Wayne Allan Root at Big Government. “Of course not. In a sane world, it is the rapist and terrorist that is blamed for the crime, not the victim. But amazingly, this is exactly what Obama and his socialist cabal are now doing in the midst of the debt ceiling crisis — blaming the victims.”
Well, guess we can now close voting in the Metaphor of the Week competition — oh, wait, Root had more: “Obama is the mother of all spending addicts. He has an illness. Obama needs to stand up in front of America and say, ‘My name is Barack Obama and I am an addict. I apologize to the taxpayers, all of whom I have wronged…'” Humorously, Root later added, “The Tea Party and the taxpayers are the heroes here. We are the only sane ones in the room.”
“Do the Democrats seriously expect anyone to believe that S&P’s downgrade of U.S. debt arises out of something that Republican Congressmen have done in the last six months?” said Power Line’s John Hinderaker, who must have slept through the past month or two of American politics.
And so on. To hear them tell it, the recent plunge into catastrophe was not caused by the Republican wrecker tactics that preceded it, but by the Great Society and the New Deal, whose legacies — the safety net, organized labor, public works, etc. — must be reversed so that our citizens, no longer encumbered by the minimum wage, unemployment insurance, or government retirement benefits, can make America great again before dying indigent in a charity ward. Which is depressing for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it means when Congress returns, they’ll try to do it all over again.