Walter Russell Mead writes that if the GOP deploy “a new weapon of mass destruction” effectively in 2012, “then they have the biggest opportunity to move the country rightward since Ronald Reagan took the oath of office back in 1981:”
Democrats, watch out.
The Republican Party and especially its Tea Party wing have just acquired a new weapon of mass destruction — and it has nothing to do with any of Congressman Wiener’s rogue body parts. If they deploy this weapon effectively in the next election cycle — a big if — then they have the biggest opportunity to move the country rightward since Ronald Reagan took the oath of office back in 1981.
The Tea Party WMD stockpile is currently stored in book form: Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon. By Gretchen Morgenson, one of America’s best business journalists who is currently at The New York Times, and noted financial analyst Joshua Rosner, Reckless Endangerment gives the best available account of how the growing chaos in the mortgage and personal finance markets and the rampant bundling of dubious loans into exotically toxic securities plunged the world, and millions of American families, into the gravest financial crisis since World War Two. It is gripping reading as well, and its explanations are clear enough that readers without any background in finance will have no trouble following the plot. The villains? An unholy alliance between Wall Street, the Democratic establishment, community organizing groups like ACORN and La Raza, and politicians like Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and Henry Cisneros. (Frank got a cushy job for a lover, Pelosi got a job and layoff protection for a son, Cisneros apparently got a license to mint money bilking Mexican-Americans of their life savings in cheesy housing developments.)
If the GOP can make this narrative mainstream, and put this picture into the heads of voters nationwide, the Democrats are toast. The party will have to reinvent itself (or as often happens in American politics, be rescued by equally stupid Republican missteps) before it can flourish.
If Morgenstern and Rosner are to be believed, the American dream didn’t die of old age; it was murdered and most of the fingerprints on the corpse come from Democratic insiders. Democratic power brokers stoked the housing bubble and turned a blind eye to the increasingly rampant corruption and incompetence at Fannie Mae and the associated predatory lenders who sheltered under its umbrella; core Democratic ideas may well be at fault.
Quick snarky response and obligatory video from the fall of 2008: Gosh, who knew?
A more sober response: Mead is right, and every GOP candidate needs to educate voters early and often the role the housing crisis played in creating today’s economic malaise.