To me, what stands as the GOP's most offensive rhetorical tactic yet deployed in modern American politics was reiterated yesterday by Mitt Romney, in his softball Mark Halperin interview--something Romney has uttered a gazillion times before, and he'll utter a gazillion times again, between now and Election Day:
It is a whole passel of elements that come together to create a strong economy, and for someone who spent their life in the economy, they understand how that works. And it’s very clear, by virtue of the President’s record, that he does not, and he is struggling. Look at him right now. He just doesn’t have a clue what to do to get this economy going.
And there you have it. Not merely a distortion--that this president just sits and thinks about economic reform, all alone, all by himself, sans any professional advisers; and not merely a lie--a twisted tale of unmitigated failure, "by virtue of the President’s record"; and not merely a misapplication of private experience to public service--"for someone who spent their life in the economy, they understand how [it] works."
True, it is all of those, but what reigns as supremely offensive is Romney & Co.'s medieval snickering over the president's "struggle," one compelled by the singular tortures of congressional Republicans who have racked, screwed, and burned at the stake virtually every economic remedy that Obama has proposed as further stimulus--the first of which did work, if only precisely to the degree by which congressional Republicans diluted it.
There is an emphatic element in this offensive line of attack that transcends the political and goes straight to the sadistic. Yet what makes it so painful isn't just Republicans' natural offensiveness or studied sadism. After all, we've had years to accustom ourselves to the GOP's soul-damaged decline. No, what makes it so excruciating is that so many Americans indeed accept it as "just politics" or, worse, actually lend it some credence; they actually say to themselves, "Yeah, that Romney guy has a point."
Vacate that credulity and you'd see national polling numbers of Obama vs. Romney, 75-25, which is to say, Romney would possess the polling strength of his hardcore base alone. This would not be a contest--at all; which is to say, further, that against an informed, educated electorate, the GOP would stand no chance whatsoever. Which finally is to say, with an easy certainty, that the GOP relies on a ghastly ignorance like no major party ever has, throughout the history of modern American politics.