The Speaker vs. the spin

If our crisis is like the Miracle on the Hudson, the plane in the river is the depressed American economy, the passengers on the wing are the American people — and most Republicans are trying to kill the rescuers trying to save the people.

If Republican leaders believe the road to power is paved with hopes the American economy fails, they will be a minority party for decades. It has happened before.

If Republicans believe their rallying cry should be trying to cut a jobs bill in half during a recession, and trying to kill most spending for jobs, they will be unwelcome in even more of the nation than they are today, after similar partisan strategies in 2006 and 2008.

In 2007 I wrote a column predicting 62 Democratic senators after 2010. Today I predict that in 2010 Republicans will lose between three and seven more Senate seats, depending on how many Republicans try to work with the president.

Already, five Republican senators have announced they will not run again. More are coming. In 2008 Democrats won open seats in New Mexico, Colorado and Virginia. The pattern will repeat, and certain Republican senators who will run in 2010 are acting like former Republican senators from North Carolina and New Hampshire in 2008.

In the House, two years after a new president takes office the opposition party usually gains. This pattern may be broken. Republicans may gain or lose a few seats, but with whole swaths of America being alienated from Republicans, and huge demographic changes from Southwest to Southeast, the playing field for the GOP is rough.

Republicans acting like obstructionists, offering policies that are doggie bags from the Bush years and appearing to hope America fails will make 2010 look like 2006 and 2008. The attacks from former Vice President Cheney, whose popularity is nine points above bird flu, will not help them while the new Gallup poll has the president’s popularity trouncing Republicans, 67 percent to 31 percent.

Remember Senate Republicans bragging in 2008 about how they brilliantly filibustered to destroy even minor Democratic attempts to create jobs? Remember House Republicans chortling in 2008 about their clever floor tactics to outsmart the Speaker? Sure worked, right?

Now, with the nation in pain, without any ideas of note, they try to demonize Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) while they try to kill jobs programs. Even the sometimes admirable and often wise Peggy Noonan descends into the mud, calling the Speaker “quite mad” and suggesting the Speaker thinks we are losing 500 million jobs a month.

Does anybody except right-wing cranks, whoever writes Republican talking points and Ms. Noonan seriously think the Speaker believes this? Ms. Noonan referred on Saturday to Catholic theology; I would propose she contemplate the notion of original sin.

The original sin of Republicans is that they are so dominated by the far right they can’t see Main Street with a microscope. They clutch policy bromides of a rejected past and spew insults and spin to a nation that hungers for solutions.

I believe in bipartisanship, but what is mad is not the Speaker fighting to end more than 500,000 jobless a month, but Republicans fighting to cut in half a program to create more jobs. My hope is that House Democrats do what it takes to pass a bill, then come back with a second jobs bill, and find enough Republicans to pass that, too.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.