Even though Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was in favor of raising taxes, even though the Democrat Party was in favor of raising taxes, even though the mainstream media was in favor of raising taxes, that was not the point. Therefore, their own desire to raise our taxes did nothing to stop all three of those groups from mercilessly beating President George H.W. Bush senseless over one of the most famous promises and infamous broken promises of the modern political era.
The year was 1988. The place was the Republican National Convention in New Orleans. Bush, who was then a sitting Vice President for Ronald Reagan, accepted his party’s nomination and uttered the following words, reportedly written by speechwriter Peggy Noonan:
And I’m the one who will not raise taxes. My opponent now says he’ll raise them as a last resort, or a third resort. But when a politician talks like that, you know that’s one resort he’ll be checking into. My opponent won’t rule out raising taxes. But I will. And the Congress will push me to raise taxes and I’ll say no. And they’ll push, and I’ll say no, and they’ll push again, and I’ll say, to them, “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
The line galvanized the convention, became the most quoted and memorable of Bush’s speech (and campaign). Best of all, the assurance of “read my lips” helped to crystallize in the minds of voters the difference between Bush and his Democrat opponent, Michael Dukakis.
By a wide margin of nearly 8 points, Bush went on to win. But…
With the promise of deficit reduction no one believed they would keep, in 1990 congressional Democrats did sucker Bush into signing a tax increase. Naturally, Democrats never reduced spending, but they did con Bush into looking the fool for breaking his most famous promise.
As history now informs us, Bush’s decision to shatter his own credibility went a long way towards his failed ’92 re-election bid. To begin with, it was a large part of what inspired Pat Buchanan to challenge his own party’s sitting president for the GOP nomination, a rare event that usually spells doom for the incumbent. Buchanan savaged Bush over this broken promise. Later, with the help of third party candidate Ross Perot, Clinton, Democrats, and the media batted clean up.
To this very day, almost 30 years later, the words “read my lips” are a punch-line meant to convey someone making a pledge no one believes they will keep.
Throughout the ’88 campaign Bush probably promised not to raise taxes dozens, maybe hundreds of times. Well, that is nothing compared to the Republican Party’s promise to repeal Obamacare.
The GOP’s oath to kill this fascist boondoggle is legendary, a vow made time and again for nearly a decade, a pact, a pledge, a covenant made by hundreds of Republican lawmakers currently sitting in the House of Representatives and Senate. And we are not talking about dozens of promises or even hundreds. No, we are talking about a guarantee made thousands and thousands of times, tens of thousands of times, maybe hundreds of thousands of times, in interviews, in speeches, in television ads, in fundraising letters, and in local town halls.
And it was all a big, fat lie.
Using this lie, these shameless grifters stole millions in campaign donations from us and earned enough of our votes to grab total control of the federal government. Republicans currently have everything they could possibly want, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do extraordinary good for the American people, things well beyond repealing Obamacare, and still these lying grifters refuse to do anything.
We are six months into a rapidly closing window, and other than a Supreme Court justice, nothing has been done.
Obviously, these spineless, dishonest conmen and women believe it doesn’t matter. They think that no matter what, their sucker-voters will still show up if only to stop the awful Democrats from gaining power. History informs us that is a pretty shaky proposition.
In 1988, Bush earned 48,886,597 votes.
In 1992, Bill Clinton beat Bush with only 44,909,806 votes.
In other words, all Bush had to do to win a second term was to hold on to the same number of voters he had won in ’88. Instead, his support crashed to just 39,104,550 votes.
Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump all understand that without your base, you are doomed. Through some very tough times, including impeachment, all three turned to their base as a means to keep the bottom from falling out. All three understand the fundamental law of politics is that you never-ever betray your base of support.
With their unconscionable and unforgivable failure to repeal Obamacare — from the Rand Pauls who refuse to do the necessary compromise to get this ball rolling, to the Rob Portmans and Lisa Murkowskis who might as well be Democrats — the Republican Party has betrayed its base in a way unseen in my lifetime.
And if the GOP base — the voters and donors — do not make these grifters pay a steep price, then we are the suckers and fools, we are the dupes, the doormats, the pushovers, the butt of the joke.