Last week I wrote that Clark Durant (a candidate running for the GOP nomination to face Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2012) was peddling a new brand of Reaganomics. I thought his enthusiasm for widening the gap between America’s rich and poor was a “serious conservative rhetorical innovation.” Conservatives have been pushing anti-middle-class, pro-wealthy policies for decades, but they’ve always claimed—in the face of overwhelming evidence—that these policies are good for the middle-class and the poor. Durant seemed to be moving past that duplicity!
Well…his campaign sent me this response via email:
“Thank you for challenging my statement about ‘widening the gap’. I do not believe in widening the income gap between rich and poor, and my life’s work in the inner city of Detroit demonstrates that far more than any sound bite. At Calvin College my ‘widening the gap’ remark, in its context, sought to challenge the students to think outside the box when they hear stock statements that pit one group of people against another. We need a country that embraces all, and rewards innovators, entrepreneurs, job creators, and hard-working people of all sorts. Innovators like Steve Jobs and Henry Ford, a part of the 1%, make life better for us all. But instead of just one, what if we had 100, 1,000, or 10,000 such innovators? And that was my point at Calvin College. I’m for innovation, and a commitment to a rising tide that lifts all boats for all Americans. I believe in the 100%.”
This is tragic. “Widening” the income gap means “not widening” the income gap? Poor Clark Durant. The old guard Reaganites must have gotten to him. I can see it now…
The room is dark. Candles flicker on the walls—each formed in the shape of a Star Wars missile defense satellite. At the end of a long mahogany table, a man is chained to his chair. He is wearing headphones, which are evidently causing him some duress, since his face contorts in pain. He claws for his ears, but can’t quite reach them.
A dozen men sit around the table, watching in silence punctuated only by their prisoner’s grunts and gasps.
“MAKE IT STOP!” he begs, “I DON’T WANT A TOTE BAG!”
No one else stirs as a lightly bearded man in wire-rimmed glasses rises and walks to the frantic man. His stolid face shows no emotion as he bends over, gently brushes the tears from the man’s face, removes the headphones, and says,
“It can all be over now, Clark. Just recant. Tax cuts for the wealthy will help the middle class and the poor. They will NOT widen the wealth gap. They WILL pay for themselves.”
The captive rolls his head back and forth between his shoulders, trying desperately to soothe his throbbing ears. “But, but, but…I’d look like a fool!” he blubbers.
The bearded man cocks his head to the right, raises his left eyebrow, purses his lips, and sighs long and slowly through his nose.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. You’ve proven your mettle. You’ve been listening to NPR for 16 hours now. No other Republican has survived so much exposure to facts. Spare yourself the agony, Clark. Ira Glass’ This American Life is on next.”
Durant’s eyes widen and his cheeks quiver. “You wouldn’t!” He looks searchingly into the man’s bearded face and then hangs his head, sweat dripping down his face onto his chest.
With a broken, weary face, he intones, “Tax cuts pay for themselves. Widening the wealth gap will narrow it. Wars are free. Tax cuts for the wealthy are necessary policy. Tax increases for the wealthy are class warfare. Holy is President Reagan.”
His captor nods his head without smiling, “And blessed be his name.”