"I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it." -- John Stuart Mill
It's not a great time to be a Republican (not that any time is). You have today's defection of Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party. With the presumed seating of Franken in Minnesota, you have a filibuster-proof 60. As usual, the party leaders responded with class and decorum:
- Minority leader Mitch McConnel says that Specter's switch is a "threat to the country".
- Rush Limbaugh - "Take McCain and his daughter with you"
- RNC Chairman Michael Steele - "Senator Specter didn't leave the GOP based on principles of any kind."
A few weeks ago, it was the "astroturf" grassroots populism of the Tea Parties. Grassroots, my ass. I understand the sentiment of the "fair tax" crowd (though I don't agree with it). But the Tea Parties had nothing to do with that. It was something much uglier. From Tea Parties and Teleprompters by David Michael Green:
... I suppose you could find a less spontaneous, less authentic expression of public sentiment if you looked really hard - perhaps by going to the latest Hannah Montana movie, for example - but I don't think it would be very easy. Fox (Hardly Any) News literally ran about a hundred segments on the tea parties in advance of the magical date, a promotional tsunami masquerading as news reporting that would've made any Soviet minister of propaganda blush.
I suppose you could also find political elements more incoherent and less grounded in reality if you tried really hard ... If the low rent, low IQ, low on laundry detergent (non) masses attending these events looked familiar, it was because we saw them on the campaign trail last year, angrily spouting utter fabrications and fulminating their vaguely anti-government screeds at Sarah Palin rallies. What they lack in quality dental care or concern about the health effects of obesity, they fully make up for in sheer gullibility and lumpen selfishness masquerading as vulgar capitalism.
My favorite bit from the coverage of the tea parties was the inadvertent reality intrusion episode, where some smart-ass got up at one of the rallies, got the crowd all excited about taxes and deficits, and then asked them to applaud Barack Obama for cutting their taxes. That little bit of cognitive dissonance produced a long, pregnant, troubled pause, and you could almost hear the rusty gears in their brains jamming into one another, screeching like a subway train, and ultimately shattering from sheer lack of prior use, as the attendees decided to stick with their advance programming after all, booing the mention of the shifty Negro in the White House despite the fact that he is cutting their taxes, just like they claim to want him to.
On the other hand, perhaps the most amazing sight of all was the Republican governor of Texas ... not so vaguely hinting at the possibility that Texas might secede from the union, and falsely claiming that the state had a special legal right to do so ...
Of course, only if deceit happens to be a moral problem need one worry about the hypocrisy of all these red states bitching about taxes and the oppressive federal government while simultaneously receiving far more dollars from Washington than they kick in...
... All of this is emblematic, of course, of a political movement in utter free fall, and completely lacking any sense whatsoever of what to do about it. This week it was tea parties. Before that, he was Obama bowing to the Saudi king. Before that, it was the president giving the Queen of England an iPod. Or was it the fact that he uses Teleprompters when he speaks?
A perusal of some of the signs at these Tea Parties will give you an idea of what they were really about: 10 Most Offensive Tea Party Signs. The Phoenix events were among the most disgusting.
And if you need more proof of the fact that a lot of conservatives do not get when they are being made fun of - from an Ohio State University Study:
This study investigated biased message processing of political satire in The Colbert Report and the influence of political ideology on perceptions of Stephen Colbert. Results indicate that political ideology influences biased processing of ambiguous political messages and source in late-night comedy ... There was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism ...