Ethan: Now that the Republican brand has dropped to an historic low of 24 percent approval, any advice you’d like to offer your party?
Phil: Your question overlooks the 39 percent approval of Democrats, even after the president and his media have blamed Republicans for all that is wrong in D.C. Wouldn’t you agree that approval ratings of less than 50 percent for Congress is a pox on both their houses?
Ethan: Ah, yes. My favorite argument these days. The attempt by conservatives to create equivalence of blame in order to avoid having to declare, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves….” Whatever happened to the party of personal responsibility?
Phil: No question Republicans own the shutdown politics.
Ethan: Any way you slice the numbers, Republicans are bleeding. The Wall Street Journal/MSNBC poll we are both citing shows Republicans plummeting.
Phil: Yes, I know.
Ethan: By a 22 point margin, 53-31, Republicans are blamed for the shutdown over Obama.
Phil: Yes, I heard you the first time.
Ethan: Forty-seven percent now believe Dems should control congress, as opposed to 39 percent for Republicans.
Phil: Do you think I am deaf?
Ethan: Seventy percent of Americans think Republicans are putting politics ahead of country.
Phil: You going to keep citing polls which change by the day or talk about the future of America?
Ethan: People are even now saying government should be doing more to help people, as opposed to less, by 52-44, thereby undermining the core Republican philosophy.
Phil: Well of course they do. They get other people to pay for their wants.
Ethan: Oooo, you are sounding mighty close to Romney and his 47 percent…. C’mon Phil, I need you to dish out a little medicine to your people so they don’t do this again.
Phil: Look, what now matters most is where America ends up in the future. After you get done citing polls and blaming Republicans, we are still spending more than we take in and piling up trillions in credit card debt.
Ethan: America’s future depends on two responsible parties, and your side is not holding up its side of the bargain.
Phil: OK, I have had enough of this. It is not like Obama has been the pillar of responsibility. He campaigned as a “reach across the aisle” change agent but became a “my way or the highway” president.
Ethan: All presidents campaign as someone who can bring folks together. I remember all this chatter about Gov. George W. Bush working across the aisle in Texas and being a new kind of “compassionate conservative.” How’d that work out?
Phil: America hasn’t even had a budget since Obama took office. The last one he sent to Capitol Hill didn’t get a single vote in the Senate. Even Democrats didn’t want to be on record.
Ethan: Obama has submitted a budget every year he has been in office. Because Congress fails to act is not his fault.
Phil: Really? You don’t think Harry Reid has enough conviction in Obama’s budget proposals to get the majority of the Senate to vote for it?
Ethan: They have plenty of conviction. What they don’t have is a responsible partner to work with. Instead, we get budgets passed through hostage-taking over debt limits and sequestration.
Phil: Meanwhile the debts and deficits pile up. It seems like Republicans are the only ones willing to face the facts that our math is not adding up.
Ethan: If it were true that Republicans actually cared about debts and deficits, you might have a point. But you know as well as I do that Republican administrations from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush have blown up our deficits way beyond what Democratic presidents have done.
Phil: You may want to check your figures. Obama has run up more debt in four years than all of the president before him combined!
Ethan: Um, no he didn’t. Debt in Obama’s first term went up 18.5 percent. In W’s second term alone it went up 20.7 percent and during Reagan’s two terms he jacked it up 21 percent. Obama has a lot of spending to do if he wants to match the “fiscal conservatism” of his Republican predecessors.
Phil: The fact remains he has more than $4 trillion in new debts, $17 trillion and counting. Want proof? Go to www.usdebtclock.org and see for yourself!
Ethan: Sure, but again, as a percentage of GDP, that isn’t out of the ordinary. Wait a minute, I stand corrected. It isn’t out of the ordinary for a Republican president. It is a bit high by historic Democratic standards, but we are just coming out of the largest downturn in our economy since the Great Depression.
Phil: Look, all progress begins by telling the truth, and the truth is his administration has no plan to take corrective action on the most important fiscal issue confronting our country: the debt. Since he can’t, the only tactic he can use is to fire up the bully pulpit and scream, “it’s the Republicans’ fault.”
Ethan: But at the beginning of this conversation you agreed that “Republicans own” the result of where we are now.
Phil: Referring to the shutdown. Put down the nonstop electioneering and look at the mess we’re in. Then ask yourself, is there anyone in D.C. who will put America before his or her re-election. The answer is no, because they are all fighting over which stateroom they are going to have on the Titanic.
Ethan: Sorry Phil, I can sometimes join you in your pox on both parties. But this time I can’t. One party is trying to steer that ship into the rocks for personal political gain. The other is not. I am thankful the American people seem to have figured out which party that is.