I Think I’ve Heard This Song Before…

Hell, I’ve sung this song!

There has been a steady exodus of former national GOP officials out of the party. Bruce Bartlett, Norman Ornstein, Lawrence Wilkerson… plus a host of far less prominent folks. And then there are the bewildered, reasonable Republicans who are still trying to work within the party for a return to its formerly responsible conservatism.

Now, it’s Ben Bernanke.

You will recall that Bernanke was chosen by the Republican White House to chair the Federal Reserve after  Alan Greenspan left. He had formerly headed up George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors.

Bernanke has now published a book, “The Courage to Act,” detailing his experiences and defending the Fed’s performance during the Great Recession. In the book, Bernanke explained his growing disappointment with the GOP.

“I tried to listen carefully and accept thoughtful criticisms,” Bernanke wrote. “But it seemed to me that the crisis had helped to radicalize large parts of the Republican Party.”

 Though Bernanke isn’t ready to side with Democrats, he no longer associates with his former party. He “lost patience with Republicans’ susceptibility to the know-nothing-ism of the far right. I didn’t leave the Republican Party. I felt that the party left me.”
The break doesn’t come as too big of a surprise. During his tenure, Bernanke at times abandoned subtlety and pleaded with congressional Republicans – whose policies Bernanke saw as making the economy worse – to be more responsible. GOP lawmakers consistently refused.

Indeed, by 2013, when Republicans were trying to blame President Obama for the sluggish recovery, Bernanke said quite clearly that the biggest obstacle to stronger growth was the Republicans’ economic agenda.

When I “came out” as a Democrat in 2000, appalling many of my wonderful friends in the Marion County GOP, I was often asked why I’d left a party that I had belonged to for over 35 years.

My answer was identical to Bernanke’s: I didn’t leave; the party left me.

Today’s radical anti-woman, anti–immigrant, anti-science, pro-“God Guns & Guts” GOP is nothing like the party I joined and worked for so long ago.  It’s hard for people who weren’t around when Republicans were thoughtful adults and genuine conservatives to believe just how far the GOP has moved to the right, but here’s a chart with visual evidence of the extent of the radicalization…

The real question: will the inevitable defeat of its Presidential candidate (you can’t gerrymander the country) serve as a wake-up call and an incentive to move back toward reality? Or will the Grand Old Party break into its increasingly fractious factions?


  1. Sheila; isn’t the country already “gerrymandered” in a sense, state-by-state, red vs. blue? The takeover of Indiana has long been in the making; primarily Republican year after year, with no change in mind set of voters when the GOP stopped being the GOP and became a pseudo Christian dominated society. Even local media is far-right leaning in their reporting; including selective reporting by omitting in-depth publication of opposition views and legal stand on major issues. Sports is the issue over and above the civil and human (and legal) rights of the people in this city and state and the country.

    The Fever’s loss last night warranted more space on the front page of the Indianapolis Star than did the article, “Statewide anti-bias law faces hurdles” co-authored by Stephanie Wang and Chris Stitch, an on-going legal battle for human rights. Ms. Wang has been at the forefront with her in-depth reporting on the RFRA/LGBT issue; so far our primary source of status of this on-going legal battle which should have been settled by the SCOTUS decision regarding same-sex marriage. Why doesn’t the “steady exodus of former national GOP leaders out of the party” get the same coverage as local sports? Why is the removal of local officials due to graft and sex scandals so quickly forgotten? White has finally begun serving his “home sentence” for misdeeds how many years ago with only a mall article on inside page of the Star? The USA Today supplement in the daily Star devotes little space to this “exodus of former national GOP leaders”…if it is reported at all. We do seem to get short-lived reports of those elected officials leaving office due to sex-based issues/scandals while their illegal, criminal, depriving citizens of rights actions quickly become old news.

    I was an Independent voter for many years; admittedly supported fewer Republicans than Democrats so cannot claim the “party left me”. It did however force me to become a one-ticket voter; supporting any and all Democratic candidates as a form of self-protection.

  2. The new GOP is a state of mindlessness. It’s composed of those uncomfortable in their own brain who need someone to issue them opinions (and “facts”). The NRA, Fox News, the local preacher, the Chamber of “Commerce”, Republican candidates.

    Unfortunately for democracy doing that is a great business.

  3. The party also left me in 2008. I consider myself to be an independent, but vote Democrat. As for local elections in my county – there are pretty much no Democrats running for anything. I live in one of the Alabama of the north counties – full of gun owning Repubs that are too damn lazy to make the effort to research facts and uncover the lies of their party and how they are being duped. I am trying to escape this hell.

  4. I expect the wagon will need to be in the ditch, in flames, with no survivors before moderate republicans can hope to gain any traction within the party. Maybe after Rush Limbaugh is gone or maybe after his followers are gone.

  5. I heard a joke two decades ago that was so true as to be unsettling. It was, “The republican idea of compromise is as follows: If liberals proposed burning the Capital down, conservatives would want a three year phase-in!” Working together got us a doubling of the national debt and an epic recession, all blamed on republicans during Bush43. The republican response was to nominate the independent moderate that the press adored to save the day. The result was a novice radical left President whose idea of compromise was, “We won, so shut up!” Followed by another doubling of the national debt and a more sluggish recovery than in the 30’s. Gridlock gets blamed on conservatives. I defy anyone to describe a single instance where liberals have offered a compromise. Please do not site ACA because it was not single payer. ACA has done nothing to reduce medical costs and most of the increased coverage is Medicaid. There was no need to destroy a system with which 85% were pleased to expand Medicaid.

  6. Jo Ann is so right about the way the press covers sporting events over and above the real news necessary for people to know and understand their government. Adding to her thoughts, my observations of news reporting during the current political season is that those events (debates, news conferences, twitter) are always framed as it it were a sporting event too. It is about who won, who lost, the come back, who is moving up, who is moving down … it’s about the moves, the sidesteps, being blindsided. It’s who is the toughest, who can take it, can he or she recover. The emphasis is on the GAME of politics, and the republican party’s elected officials seem to think that the game is what it is all about too. “Damn the country! Let’s make the black president fail!” A congressional hearing into the deaths of an American diplomat and his guards? “Hell no! Let’s use that hearing to smear the potential leader on the other side.” It isn’t just a handful of republican elected or appointed officials. It is a party of like minded fans, cheering on their team with votes and money as if the people did not matter, the government did not matter, the constitution did not matter. It’s about winning … at any cost.

  7. Bernanke was a Republican? He was certainly tight-lipped about it, if he was.

    Remember, the President doesn’t nominate the head of the Federal Reserve. The President is only allowed to choose off a list of names that the New York branch of the Federal Reserve gives him. If the list has one name, that’s the President’s choice.

    Bernanke has been overt that he works for a private company that doesn’t answer to anyone.

    Here’s a video where Bernie was asking some questions and got nowhere.


    If people ever learned how Ben Shalom Bernanke created the money that people think is “their money,” he’d be run out of town on a rail.

    Today’s radical anti-woman, anti–immigrant, anti-science, pro-“God Guns & Guts” GOP is nothing like the party I joined and worked for so long ago.

    Oh, knock it off. For years, the Republican Party in the northern states was just the party of rich people. Over the past 25 years, it has become a party with a bit of passion for its ideas. You’re a wealthy urbanite who holds a job of questionable worth to the economy. You’ll have a hard time justifying your job and your salary to most Republicans. Democrats, however, flock to your job and your lifestyle.

    Culturally, you identify more with an urban country club member who believes in his Mercedes and Rolex than with a rural worker who drives a pickup and believes God is watching everything, so you increasingly chafe at who you would be expected to stand shoulder to shoulder with at a party meeting.

    Frankly, Sheila, you should be a bit more forthcoming about what you believe so we can all know whether you should have been a Republican, in the first place. You boast how you “used to be a Republican,” but so what? Was that party merely where the opportunities were in Indianapolis, so that’s where the political jobs were?

    Bart Peterson, a Democrat, was elected in 1999 and took office in 2000. You “come out” as a Democrat in 2000. Coincidence?

  8. So, Ken Glass, you don’t believe the Republicans have been in bed with Wall Street? You know, the ones that actually caused the Great Recession?

    The congressional republicans have repeatedly fought against financial reform for Wall Street and banks too big to fail. They have fought against it tooth and nail.

    Speaking of compromise – your right wing extremists have fought any legislation to get our economy going because they don’t want Pres Obama to claim any success. They truly do believe they must Win at All Costs to the citizens of this country.

    You “defy” anyone to cite a single instance of compromise by the Dems, yet instruct us NOT to cite the ACA, which actually WAS a compromise. WOW! Furthermore, the ACA absolutely has reduced inflation of medical charges. Your statement that it has done nothing to reduce medical costs is absolutely untrue. There is a multitude of independent research that supports reduced inflation.

    However, thanks to GW Bush signing an agreement with the powerful pharmaceutical industry that prohibits congress to negotiate prices for drugs, the price of drugs has skyrocketed and there seems to be no end in sight. Drugs are a HUGE portion of the medical costs in our country. But, your Repub Pres made sure we will pay higher prices for the same drugs that sell for much much less in other industrialized countries.

    Finally, where in the hell did you come up with a stat that 85% were pleased with the prior health insurance system? YOU have to have made up THAT stat.

  9. Here is a prime example of Repub idiocy – remember this zinger?

    Just ask Rep. Marlin Stutzman (Ind.). “We’re not going to be disrespected,” Stutzman told David Drucker of the Washington Examiner. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

    That was his reason for voting to shut down the government in 2013.

    Here is more history on Stutzman:

    He claims to be against the farm program, but personally gains hundreds of thousands of dollars from it. I called his office and spoke to one of his aides a couple years ago to ask why his boss files for $$$ from the farm program. His aide, who obviously knew nothing about how the farm program works, said that Stutzman doesn’t benefit from the farm program. He rents out his ground. I told the aide that his boss did, in fact, benefit from the program. He has to personally file with the FSA annually to verify his ground for the program so his tenants can file for the money from the USDA.

    If Stutzman was an honest person he would not file at all for his ground to be part of the farm program. Of course, this would drastically reduce the rental value of his land but he could put his money where his mouth is and just reduce the rent to his tenant by the amount that the government would have paid per acre for his land. This would also reduce the value per acre of his land. Oh, but he wouldn’t want to do that! That would be far too honest!

    He follows the Repub mantras of “Do as I say – Not as I Do” and “Entitlements are OK for Me, but Not for You!”

  10. “And then there are the bewildered, reasonable Republicans who are still trying to work within the party for a return to its formerly responsible conservatism.”

    Ms Kennedy’s statement is true as per the 2013 GOP Growth and Opportunity Project report, the RNC’s autopsy report, which did not gloss over issues or ‘make nice’ as usual. However, the report changed few ultra-conservatives’ minds.


  11. “You’re a wealthy urbanite who holds a job of questionable worth to the economy.” GOPPER ever fails to reveal neanderthal views. Being a lawyer/professor to educate your students and your readers about government and public administration is well worth whatever you’re being paid and much more.

    Several years ago, a lobbyist for mayors told me how fortunate schools were to have superintendents and business managers who had graduate degree in school finance – a very complicated subject. He said mayors didn’t have a pool of well-trained people in municipal finance except for those who had learned it on the job which often caused mistakes and left the city susceptible to corruption. Ever since then I’ve been thankful that our universities now teach more and more students about public finance and administration.

    GOPPER doesn’t think educators deserve much pay for educating others. He has a lot of company in his party. To paraphrase an old saying, if he thinks education is expensive, try ignorance. (Not just his own, but everyone else’s.)

  12. Nancy! The so-called ultra-conservatives railed against in this article are NOT aligned with Wall Street. Your view about evil financial industry causing the recession ignores the Congressional demands that lending institutions relax their requirements for mortgages. Those facts made default inevitable. In response, the financial institutions designed a sleazy package of investments to spread the risk forced on them. I will never support the strategy and have no problem with prosecuting those responsible, but please do not ignore the reality that Dodd and Frank reassured us that all was well with fannieMae &FreddieMac just before then failed. The Bush Administration tried from ’06 to stop the trends but Congress would not listen. ACA was a compromise between liberal and moderate democrats (passing a law they didn’t even read) with NO input from any republican, but especially not the conservative subject of this post. You claim “studies” about how great ACA has been but the only ones I have seen are anecdotal. Premiums are up, deductibles are up, co-pays are up, and the only people happy with it fall into two groups. Those who were uninsurable. I am glad they have coverage, but adding them to Medicare would have been far less costly, less disruptive, and easier to administer. The other group of happy people are not paying full price. Older and less healthy people are receiving coerced charity from younger, healthier people. If you rob Peter to pay Paul, Paul will back your play.
    Republicans try desperately to block so-called stimulus packages. Such plans were effective at delaying recovery in the Great Depression and they equally ineffective this time.
    The problem with the stimulus package is crony capitalism. The political elite on both sides do it with righteous indignation. Military programs that the military doesn’t want, failing green industries get tons of money. All such graft is deeply offensive to the tea-party folks you ridicule.
    BTW, statistic not made up–Benefit Research Institute, 86% in 5/08, 91% in 8/08, 88% in 5/09. ABC/WaPo, 81% in 6/09. Quinnipiac, 85% in 6/09, 88% in 9/09.

  13. Sheila, I think you fail to recognize how far left you’ve moved over the years. I can’t think of any political position you hold today that would have been consistent with Republican Party philosophy not just in 2016, but in 2000, 1990, or 1980. For example, Republicans have been against abortion and for gun rights my entire life. Yet you cite that as proof the party’s drifted to the right. But, in fact, you’ve drifted to the left, adopting radicalized liberal positions on virtually every issue, dismissing conservative concerns on those issues as illegitimate, unfairly often declaring that those positions are motivated by such things as racism, sexism, xenophobia, hatred of women, etc.

  14. About Hillary’s single server use while Secretary of State; glad Bernie jumped into that with both feet during the debate. What happened to the report that Colin Powell also used a single server while Secretary of State? He knew of no restrictions and he was never questioned about his option. Other elected officials have also used single servers. The GOP hushed that up quickly and permanently, apparently.

    About Benghazi; what happened to the early brief reference to the fact that bills requesting more money for better security at all embassies was tabled by the GOP? I have questioned before; why was the fact that home countries are responsible for all external security at all foreign embassies? How did the terrorists so easily get past them to enter the American Embassy in Benghazi? That has never happened in this country. Now, even a few Republicans are admitting that Hillary was deliberately targeted to be held responsible. This is still an active attack on her by the GOP.

    I’m sure the same tactics attempting to hide these facts are used to cover up the losses of that “”steady exodus of former national GOP officials out of the party.” Also to push other GOP scandals into the background by highlighting attacks on Democratic candidates – with Hillary as their primary target. Don’t get me wrong; my support in these comments doesn’t change the fact that I am behind Bernie 100%, but right is right and the truth is the truth.

  15. Actually, Sheila, the GOP is and has been in the process of gerrymandering the entire country for the last 150 years. It’s called voter suppression and, just like district redrawing, works even better. Take them off the rolls and you don’t have to worry about the lines.

    (What is strange is the it was the Dems who originated and perfected this program starting in about 1868 in places like Florida.)

  16. I hope this will lead to the creation of at least 1 more party. We will be a better system with 3 to 5 viable political parties.

  17. Ken – the most recent stat you stated about health insurance was from 6 years ago! That is not valid today or even 3 years ago.

    You then mentioned the Dodd Frank legislation. The Repub party has consistently hacked away at this legislation to loosen the regs for Wall St and big banks. They have been fighting Elizabeth Warren’s work to enforce the rules. They are definitely in bed with Wall St and Big Banks.

    The stimulus package or TARP was from Bush shortly before the end of his second term. That was dropped on Obama.

    Then you said giving Medicare to the uninsurable would have been far cheaper. I agree with you. Actually, we would all be a lot better off if we had single payer insurance, i.e. Medicare for all. The powerful insurance and pharma lobbies got what they wanted in the end. They are the ones that are making insane profits. I believe their greed will ultimately be their downfall and our country will come to their senses and bring Medicare for All into reality.

  18. Sheila, I haven’t ‘moved’ either–that’s why Bernie Sanders seems like a reasonable person to me. He raised $26,000,000 from the voters. No wonder the press is falling all over themselves to marginalize his ‘electability’–he’s where the majority of Americans are. I would say both parties walked away–to their new address on Wall Street.

  19. Nancy! How else would you propose to evaluate how satisfied people were before ACA without looking at pre-ACA opinion polls? Interestingly enough, you will find about 80% satisfaction with the best single payer programs around The world. Unfortunately, it is only the healthy who are satisfied. Free check-ups and free emergency room visits and easy preventative care, but….don’t get sick. Long waits for services to the ill and very low availability of treatment for chronic or terminal conditions.

  20. The best definition that I know of for the direction that the GOP has wandered off in is Ronnie’s notion that government is only a problem. That let them and their minions out of any and all responsibility to solve problems. So they stopped doing anything but dismantling what the Constitution and democracy had built over our 250 + year existence.

    We and they would be much better off if the words “capitalism” and “socialism” had never been invented because the ownership of the means of production by some or all of us is moot.

    What matters is competition which businesses value among their suppliers but would like to get rid of in the markets that they serve. That’s why regulation is essential for business success.

    Capitalism uses unequal wealth distribution for motivation. That’s why progressive taxes are essential to maintain social stability.

    If one worships inequity then one celebrates class and hierarchy and privilege.

    This is what distinguished the Democratic debate from the Republican. The offering of solutions rather than problems. The celebration of competition. The pursuit of connection rather than power.

  21. “Sheila, I think you fail to recognize how far left you’ve moved over the years. I can’t think of any political position you hold today that would have been consistent with Republican Party philosophy not just in 2016, but in 2000, 1990, or 1980.”

    Sheila says she “came out” as a Democrat in 2000. As I previously noted, Peterson was elected in 1999. Sheila has stated that her son came out as gay in 1998. Sheila joined SPEA at IUPUI in 1998.

    It’s fair to say that Sheila’s positions follow her self interest. IUPUI doesn’t value or reward conservatives, and Sheila really likes the sweet IUPUI gig that paid her $114,745 as of 2013. Becoming a Democrat increases her currency in a city that has permanently switched to Democrat, despite the Ballard aberration. Having a gay son is far easier in a Democratic household than a Republican one.

    Sheila is doing all the right things and saying all the right things to ingratiate herself and entrench herself in a lovely Democratic-biased sinecure. The occasional paean for opportunistic RINOs like Dick Lugar who never had any core beliefs lets Sheila believe that she straddles party lines, but we all know if Lugar needed to be a Democrat to get elected, he would have been.

    I wish Sheila would drop the false piety. She’s very well paid for being a Democrat who pushes the hard-left agenda. I wish she would leave it as being an avowed and staunch party operative. She’s not “right.” She’s just on the Democrat side, and she’s pushing their ideas for a lavish salary that she could never make working for a trucking company or a tool and die plant.

  22. Gopper, where does your hatred and jealousy come from? Good Lord, you need mental health counseling.

  23. KEN !!!

    ‘Long waits for services to the ill and very low availability of treatment for chronic or terminal conditions.’

    Again – where are you getting your info? You don’t refer to any studies or articles.

    One of my high school classmates has lived in Austria for 25 years. He says the socialized health care and health insurance system there is the best. He has had to utilize it and had great care, has not had to wait for care when he needed it, and was not financially ruined after being released from the hospital for two serious medical episodes.

    He is truly saddened by the poor health coverage and poor health care that we receive here. People should not have to file bankruptcy or lose their homes due to extremely high medical costs.

  24. Gopper – You are a coward! At least Joe McCarthy made such scurrilous and personal attacks under his own name. You on the other hand are hiding behind a nom de plume. Have you no decency? Who are you?

  25. Ken; you cannot apply for ACA in the state of Indiana (and probably all other Republican states with state health care systems) until you have been denied coverage by all companies in the state system as set up by Pence. My daughter-in-law, a custodian, was paying $450 for her family plan with Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield with $9,600 annual deductible. In other words; she was paying for no coverage and paying all medical bills. Believing the ACA would provide a lower annual deductible she dropped her coverage as was required and began to apply in October 2013; but was told she had to initially apply through the state system. They first lost her application so she started over in December; in January 2014, she was informed they would not release anyone’s status (accepted or denied) through the state system till April or May. She attempted at that time to apply for one of the policies offered through the state system. Told they were accepting NO applications till AFTER March 31st – the deadline to apply for ACA which left her out…just what the state planned. At the end of June 2014 she was notified she had been qualified for coverage at $1,200 per month with a $12,000 annual deductible. She, being an intelligent woman, turned it down; had to wait till October to sign up for her original coverage through employment. Because she was employed but had no insurance as required by law; she was fined $900 which was deducted from her IRS tax refund. People are blaming the ACA for health care coverage costs – I have just told you how the state system victimizes residents in red states with state insurance systems. It has nothing to do with ACA…it has only to do with the GOP who continue trying to repeal or defund the ACA considering it to be Obamacare as if he owns the system.

  26. I don’t know about that, Sheila.

    When you were in your 20’s, just becoming politically active, Gore Vidal was lamenting the same Republican positions that you criticize today. The Republicans didn’t seem to be new arrivals to those positions.


    Eisenhower was perhaps the last Republican national leader who still represented the landed wealthy ideologically moderate class, concerned primarily with the maintenance and preservation of wealth, and concerned only with social issues to the extent that the stresses of the ghetto didn’t create problems for the suburbs.

    For a time that preceded your birth and endured through your adolescence, the Republican Party was effectively a Presbyterian church. Lots of wealth. Lots of polite handshakes and networking. Social positions held only to the extent they improved the wealth of the congregation.

    With you decrying wealth inequality, it’s hard to see how you view that group as heroes.

  27. Theresa Bowers, you beat me to it. I think we would all listen to Gopper’s contrasting ideas if he presented them in a civil, respectful manner. Since he refuses to do so, he should be considered a troll and not be taken seriously.

  28. Ken Glass. Why didn’t we ever hear any of your ideas from the Republican Congress? We did hear that they were (as a block) opposed to anything proposed by the Obama administration. Not much more. They said they wanted to repeal Obamacare. Never replace it with something that was defined. Plenty of blame to go around but it’s not a liberal issue.

  29. Apparently Gopper believes that there days are not an aberration and Eisenhower’s warning about the military industrial complex was a lie. He secretly.was on their side. Another Donald Trump.

  30. Daleb! You need to stop relying on biased news feeds. There were at least four proposals as alternatives for ACA, but obstructionist liberals preferred to vote for a law nobody had read to discussing an alternative.

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