Americans remain mad as hell and want to vent their anger on corporations, the wealthy, and anyone else they see as privileged.By assuming the position as hardcore opponent of the working class and by trying to fight against spreading populist sentiments like a windmill might fight a tornado, Tennessee's Bob Corker is hopelessly trying to cover conservativism in retreat. It would be one thing if he were taking an unpopular position on principle, instead of pandering to the GOP base like he has on Steve Gill's show. That base and its conventional culture war-waging has lost all credibility at a national level because it has no answers to the financial crisis the Republicans and deregulating Democrats caused.
Given the public’s mood, it should be no surprise that the most recent Republican anti-Obama strategy isn’t working.
In fact, what we are seeing in public opinion polls is a wave of populism that shows no sign of cresting. It is likely to remain high, and perhaps grow, in the short term as the government goes ahead with expensive efforts to rescue banks and salvage auto companies.
Consider this: Four out of five voters think politicians in Washington, D.C., should limit the pay of executives at companies that get federal bailout money. Three in 10 voters embrace the historically un-American notion that government should control the pay for executives of firms that don’t get any cash from Uncle Sam — the kind of trust in government over the private sector that only a few years ago would have seemed laughable. The sentiment may be unprecedented, but so too is the federal assistance to private industries to keep them in business.
Or, how about the finding that only one in seven thinks executives of companies that needed federal help were victims of adverse economic circumstances they could not have anticipated. Three-quarters of Americans think these business leaders were either incompetent or crooked.
Perhaps that is why almost half of Americans want federal prosecutors to be more aggressive in pursuing criminal charges against these business leaders, compared to one in 10 who wants them to be less aggressive.