The Right-Wing Media Frankenstein is Pushing Its Republican Political Prisoners to Electoral Doom
You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.
— Glaucon, from Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave,” Book VII, “The Republic.”
Out in the formerly sunny Kal-i-forn-yuh, now the province of the disastrous ‘leadership’ of Republican Gov. Arnold “Worse Than Gray Davis” Schwarzenegger, GOP lawmakers are resisting a sensible bill that will save the state from bankruptcy and collapse. Why? Because it contains necessary tax increases to balance the state budget and the California Republicans are under threat from right-wing radio talkers that if they vote for the bill, they will be targeted for removal from office and their political careers ended.
Similarly, national Republicans in Congress have also gotten the message from Rush Limbaugh and his braying ilk: vote against even the most reasonable spending bills that would help Americans enmeshed in Bush’s new Great Depression and hope Obama fails or else.
Democrats have been rightly criticized for leaving their spines in a lockbox in the conduct of national business, but this is an exhibition of cowardice unparalleled in US political history: Not only are the chickenhawk Republicans afraid to risk their dainty flesh in the nation’s interest, now they are trembling in fear at the thought that obtuse gasbags like Limbaugh might attack them for voting the wrong way. (One, a featherweight embarrassment named Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia, blubberingly apologized and begged forgiveness on Limbaugh’s radio show recently for veering from Rush’s notion of conservative orthodoxy.)
The irony here is as thick as Rush Hudson Limbaugh III’s porcine jowls; the two ‘new’ political ideas hatched from the dank cellar of Nixon’s presidency were appealing via code words to white bigots the infamous ‘Southern Strategy’ and mobilizing fringe right Christians, formerly opposed to political involvement, to take up the GOP banner in the name of fighting abortion rights after Roe v. Wade was ruled on by the Supreme Court in 1973. The third ‘new’ idea, which really hearkened back to the broadcast rants of Father Charles Coughlin in the 1930s, was the inception of right-wing talk radio infesting those AM bands that had been all but deserted in the rush to FM in the 1970s, pioneered by the unlikely success of post-Fairness Doctrine Rush Limbaugh in 1988. In the early days, the Mighty Wurlitzer of conservative talk radio served the interests of the Republican Party, helping to elect Newt Gingrich’s ‘Contract with America’ Congress in 1994, and took their marching orders from the Republican National Committee, or GOP political operatives like Ed Rollins, Lee Atwater or, later, Karl Rove. The concept was simple: take all of the rage that was building in the nation from working class poor and blue-collar whites who were being consistently reamed by corporations owned by wealthy Republicans and their GOP political puppets and turn it on liberals, Hollywood, Democrats, feminists, scientists, gays, college professors, Barbra Streisand, welfare queens, ‘elites’ or anyone else not providing money or faxed talking points to the host, then urge them to support whatever jive pinhead the Republican Party dredged up to run against it all.
That the promulgators of this fictional universe, donning imaginary overalls during airtime and portraying themselves as straight-talking ‘average Americans,’ themselves were making millions of dollars (Limbaugh himself just signed a deal worth $400 million) and living the most elite lives possible off air was carefully hidden from the office-bound rubes and factory-floor yokels of the new GOP diaspora, strangers in their own land and eternally the patriotic put-upon victims of some liberal outrage, smart-ass scientist, gay celebrity or urban welfare recipient who had no other thought in life but to retire early with their new Cadillac and color TV bought on the downtrodden white man’s hard-earned dime.
For a time, the right-wing media prevailed with this fantasy of misdirected ire and ratings boomed, especially during the ’90s when they had Bill and Hillary Clinton to vilify for all that’s wrong with the world, and it reached it’s influential zenith with the election of the dullest knife in the drawer, the malaprop-prone black sheep alcoholic son of a politically-prominent family, a failure at everything he had ever tried, shoehorned into the Texas governor’s mansion by the slimy machinations of Karl Rove, and illegally appointed to the presidency by Daddy’s friends on the US Supreme Court — George W. Bush. The Limbaugh’s and Hannity’s celebrated they had catapulted one of their own into the highest office in the land; but that was also the beginning of their downfall, concurrent with the nosedive of Bush and the GOP, and the concomitant blossoming of their blind arrogance that is on track to reduce the Republicans to a small regional party, grasping for votes from the unlearned, unteachable and plain dumb. This media Frankenstein, stitched together haphazardly to assist the GOP, now bullies the party to work against its own interests, just as they have been doing to their misbegotten audience for decades, an audience diminishing in the harsh light of economic reality.
“Self-described conservative Republicans represent only about 20 percent of the population. This base is not necessarily becoming smaller; it’s still alive and kicking. What is true, however, is that the (1) base has never been sufficient to form a winning electoral coalition, and (2) that there are fewer and fewer non-base (e.g. moderates, libertarian Republicans, Republican leaning-independents). As these moderates have fled the GOP, the party’s electoral fortunes have tanked. But simultaneously, they have had less and less influence on the Republican message.”
And that 20 percent ain’t a-gonna win you no national elections, son. Silver calls it the ‘Republican Death Spiral’ an apt term for party leaders who seem to have their heads permanently lodged in Reagan’s decades-old, thoroughly discredited supply-side sand, or perhaps somewhere else even less appetizing.
Dave Neiwert at Crooks and Liars neatly elucidates the GOP dilemma:
“What’s worse for Republicans is that not only have they not yet figured out how irrelevant they’ve become, they are even further from understanding the reasons for their irrelevance. They’re in deep denial about the direct relationship between their philosophy and the current economic debacle, and even more so the extent to which the public is finding their pugnacious, vicious, attacking style of politics increasingly repellent.”
The GOP leadership remind me of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave – they are prisoners of their ideology who cannot move their heads, trapped watching the shadows of reality, as interpreted by Rush and Fox News, of course, flash across the walls of their cave buried deep within a massive mountain of inbred Beltway party chatter, outdated opinion, and pure horse pucky. Only a failure to see the light of day could have resulted in House Republicans high-fiving each other and otherwise celebrating their vote against a popular president’s stimulus package as the country descends further into Bush’s economic hell; only someone seriously separated from meat-and-bone factuality could have dismissed Obama’s well-received speeches in various Republican Red districts in Indiana, Florida and Arizona — and the attendant applause and cheers at his promises to help the desperate inhabitants there with government dollars — as anything other than an omen of certain political doom for the GOP.
Frank Rich in the NY Times sliced it up this way:
“Because Republicans are isolated in that parallel universe and believe all the noise in its echo chamber, they are now as out of touch with reality as the ‘inevitable’ Clinton campaign was before it got clobbered in Iowa. The G.O.P. doesnt recognize that it emerged from the stimulus battle even worse off than when it started. That obliviousness gives the president the opening to win more ambitious policy victories than last weeks. Having checked the box on attempted bipartisanship, Obama can now move in for the kill.”
Although the mass media have presented Republicans in Congress as denizens of ‘safe’ districts, the wily President Obama is quietly organizing a nationwide campaign structure to unseat Republicans that will likely succeed in every state but those in the Deep South. (Even Alaska, the current locus of GOP corruption may go Blue next election, including ridding themselves of their increasingly embarrassing Turkey Chipper Ice Princess in the governor’s office.)
I think the four biggest problems the GOP has is that they have run out of credibility, run out of ideas, run out of answers, and, most of all, in deadly serious times they don’t seem to be taking what’s happening to the country seriously just more of the ‘politics as blood sport’ divide-and-conquer nonsense practiced by Karl Rove, Lee Atwater and their jaded mentors in the Nixon campaigns of yore.
Since every time Obama speaks he makes the carping, archaic, revanchist Republicans look like a bunch of ignorant toads and the usual neocon flag-waving and defamation smears just aren’t working anymore not in these dark times when the next paycheck may be the last, the sick languish without health care, the family home is one inflated payment from foreclosure, and the credit-card-spree bills are coming due the GOP should face its inevitable future squarely: They are destined to become the minority party of the rural South for generations to come Dixiecons, if you will and their voters will be confined to bedeviled Christians, bigoted sons and daughters of the Old Confederacy, the proudly stupid, and the willfully ignorant who choose to believe what Rush or a TV preacher tells them over the evidence of their own dismal lives.
That being the case, they might just as well change the name to the Confederate Republicans of America Party now, and then they’d also acquire an entirely appropriate new acronym, much more accurately descriptive of the party and its place in America’s political dialogue than the old one.