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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Neumann flap helps narrow potential window for conservatives' break with reality

by folkbum

We all know that conservatives have, at some point in the recent past, abandoned the present reality choosing to substitute a fantasy world of their own making instead. Pinpointing the moment when that split in the space-time continuum occurred, exactly, has always been a bit of challenge, since it has seemed more evolutionary* than instantaneous.

We know that the shift happened sometime before October 17, 2004, when a Bush administration aide offered up the observation that "we create our own reality."

Deb Jordahl helpfully reminds us of a statement from Mark Neumann, current gubernatorial candidate, way back in 1996 when he was just a baby-faced first-term Congressman:
“Isn’t it true,” an elderly man asks, “that it was when Reagan was President and Dole was in the Senate that the debt went up?”

Boom.

“This debate is exactly what’s leading our country down the path to destruction!” Neumann yells. “Reagan and Dole did it, and the Democrats did it! People on both sides of the aisle are willing to do anything to get power in this country, even if means the destruction of our country!”

His questioner is stunned into silence. Neumann’s face is tomato red. “I’ve got to get my blood pressure down!” he shouts. He gathers himself. “I’m sorry I answered so strong,” he tells the Kiwanians a moment later. “This Republican-Democrat thing—it’s just so destructive. If the Democrats want to take credit, I don’t care. They raised taxes in 1993 and it brought in more revenue and so the deficit is going down.”
Back then, the Kiwanis-club audience was skeptical of Neumann's statement of obvious fact, but at least willing to listen and, faced with charts and graphs and "a math teacher with actual power," believe the truth. The deficit did in fact balloon under Reagan (despite his tax increases) and did in fact disappear under Clinton.

Though Jordahl does not come right out and say that she disagrees with Neumann on the facts (as opposed to, what are the kids calling it these days? the "optics"?) of what Neumann said, that's clearly her implication. Today, of course, the suggestion that Reagan boosted both the debt and taxes is heresy. The suggestion that the Clinton budget bill, passed without a single Republican vote in 1993, set the federal government on a path to solvency, is heresy. But they are facts. And those who refuse to see them, such as Walkerite Jordahl and the rest of the tea-party crew, are sadly in ascendance.

Anyway, this helps narrow the window to sometime after 1996. Anyone want to try to peg it more specifically?

* Undoubtedly the conservatives who stop by here to comment will reject the evolution argument and posit instead that they were created disconnected from realty.

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