Friday, May 25, 2012

The political meta story that is being missed

We can add a new name to the list of conservatives who have parted ways with the wingnut takeover of the Republican Party. The list already includes former Republican administration officials David Frum and Bruce Bartlett; former Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren; and former legislators like Chuck Hagel.

The latest entry to the list is Michael Fumento who wrote a scathing critique in Salon about the extremist's takeover of the current conservative agenda.
The last thing hysteria promoters want is calm, reasoned argument backed by facts. And I’m horrified that these people have co-opted the name “conservative” to scream their messages of hate and anger.
One of my reactions when I read about this kind of thing is to wonder whether or not these people  represent many other conservatives who are equally disgusted with the current nonsense coming from their side of the political spectrum. Given what we saw happen to Senator Lugar recently, I doubt we'll be hearing much of anything like that from Republicans who are currently in office or running for re-election. But I have to believe that the folks on this list represent many other conservatives who might not have a public voice, but are nevertheless wondering WTH has happened to their party.

This, to me, is the meta story about what is happening in our politics today. Its what future historians will be writing about these times we're living in. Centrists pundits like Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein finally said it - but not many folks are paying attention.

Instead we get crap like the story in Politico today, pundits who simply follow the electoral horse race and say over and over again what a tight race the 2012 election is going to be, and liberals screaming about every crack in the Democratic message while  ignoring the ongoing deep fissures on the right.

There are definitely times that, as I watch all this unfold, I feel like I'm living in another parallel universe to the one so many pundits (both paid and armchair) are seeing. But I know that my eyes are not deceiving me. Ornstein and Mann are right - the Republicans are currently in the grasp of a faction that is having ONE BIG HISSY FIT and a few brave souls from their ranks are standing up to say so. The country is still nervous about our economic future. And President Obama is calmly but surely showing us the way FORWARD.


  1. The danger is that the GOP built up its cadres in the media over decades, not just at Fox, but with its plants on all the major networks and minor ones two. Their loyalty is to the Party, or the Movement if you prefer, not to an ideology properly understood. This gives the GOP a legitimacy it doesn't at this point earn.

    I studied a lot of Stalinist politics, as it happens, and I don't make those allusions for hyperbole's sake, but only because the shoe fits. Stalin was able to come to power not by the force of his intellect but because of the nomenklatura

    This is how the Right is best understood. It is about particular people in particular jobs, and their understanding that they hold those jobs, and enjoy all the trappings those jobs bring, because of loyalty, not ability or intelligence.

    The big difference here with the Soviet nomenklatura is that there are elections that can only be skewed, not stolen outright. This explains the narrowing of the GOP's constituency--they need to appeal to the only dependable voters they have, which leads to a racist appeal.

    1. ...they hold those jobs, and enjoy all the trappings those jobs bring, because of loyalty, not ability or intelligence.

      Perhaps that explains one question I've always had.

      Sometimes for fun I imagine myself being the person in charge of hiring on-air personalities for CNN. In walks Wolf Blitzer for his interview. I've tried very hard to imagine what would make me chose him over other people who have just a modicum of intelligence. And I can't come up with one damn thing.


    2. A lot of people, not just on the left, have a tendency to mistake their generalization as the thing they are trying to work with. We generalize about "the right" or "movement conservatism." Each of these things is in fact a bunch of actual people, in actual situations. The whole Stalin-Trotsky episode is very instructive in this sense. Trotsky was brilliant, he was the theoretician, etc. Stalin knew that when it came down to it, what counted were numbers.

      You are hiring people for CNN, and you get paid a lot of money for it. You're not going to do anything to endanger that. Blitzer comes in, and you know within 20 seconds of the interview that this guy will never present an intellectual challenge, much less an institutional one, but at the same time will perform his function to a 't.' Nobody will love him, but nobody will hate him enough to either change the channel or demand his ouster in a painful way. Blitzer is as attuned to his own job security, if perhaps in some way naively so, as you, the hiring manager, are. It's a win-win situation.

      To flog a dead horse, I drank beer for years with a group of academics, fairly senior ones. They would bring candidates for openings in the departments to the beer-drinking session, which had become something of an institution in itself and one of the things that would indicate a "vibrant local culture." Lots of very interesting people came through, and not one ever got the job. It always went to someone with a banal dissertation from a big name university, who would never be a threat to anyone.

      This country is f&$%@d.

  2. I'd like to agree w/ you the fissures in the American Taliban are important but I can't. The fissures are by men who had no problem w/ the sexist, racist pandering, class conscious lying and worshiping at the altar of Mars to get the party in power. They still have no problem w/ packing the courts w/ judges who are business friendly in the way Hitler co opted the corporate/business class. They have no problem w/ the erosion of civil liberty that manifested itself in the War on Terror and for that matter President Obama has ahd no problem extending and defending the same policies.They are not equivalent in any way to the outsiders and/or liberals who moved the Dummycrat party to the left when they challenged at the Democratic party convention of '68. their goal is simply to put more lip gloss on the pig.
    cross posted at JJP as RobM