Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Old Whine In New Skins, Ctd.

Three guesses who said this.

No peeking:
Whether he is removed from office or continues as a disdained and powerless figurehead, [the president] is through. But the difference between impeachment and political impotence is crucial. It will be a test of the American people. If the head of the most corrupt and malign administration in our history is suffered to remain in office, however crippled, it will be a clear sign that we have turned a corner, that American morality, including but not limited to our political morality, is in free fall.

It is time to reckon the costs to America, so far, of this squalid and probably criminal administration. That the president has committed "high crimes and misdemeanors" is indisputable but not the worst of the wounds he has inflicted upon his office and the nation. The damage is enormous, cuts deep, and may be irreversible.

This president has subverted our system of justice and the ideal of the rule of law, debased our politics, vulgarized our culture, and brought a totalitarian impulse to our government...
If you guessed that it was the late and unlamented Robert Bork -- former "eminent jurist" and leading Conservative Serious Thinker -- congratulations! You really do know how to Recognize Different Types of Wingnut from Quite a Long Way Away.

But more interesting than "who", is "when".  This is Bork from 1998, writing about William Jefferson Clinton in the notorious crackpot conspiracy theory delivery system, "The American Spectator".  In the same article where the ruined old lunatic felt perfectly comfortable writing:
There is a name for people like that: sociopaths. The Merck Manual of 1992 states that sociopaths:
characteristically act out their conflicts and flout normal rules of social order. These persons are impulsive, irresponsible, amoral, and unable to forgo immediate gratification. They cannot form sustained affectionate relationships with others, but their charm and plausibility may be highly developed and skillfully used for their own ends. They tolerate frustration poorly, and opposition is likely to elicit hostility, aggression, or serious violence. Their antisocial behavior shows little foresight, and is not associated with remorse or guilt, since these people seem to have a keen capacity for rationalizing and for blaming their irresponsible behavior on others. Frustration and punishment rarely modify their behavior or improve their judgment and foresight...
That definition fits Clinton to a T. Given power, the sociopath will display totalitarian tendencies. Clinton does. They are also likely to be demagogues, Clinton is.
This may come as a shock to some of you (and, apparently, to every Centrist pundit in Christendom), but if you're old enough and not a Conservative, you will no doubt remember that during the 1990s the Right completely and publicly lost its shit.

It was a decade of one wingnut-media-fueled witch-hunt after another, all coming up dry, all triggering new levels of berserk rage from Conservatives and a lot of loose talk about what a backstabbing, Commie traitor the President was.

It was an age when a serial adulterer, race-baiter and congenital liar like Newt Gingrich would rise to become the Speaker of the House on the strength of his unrelenting moral hectoring of other people:
A South Carolina woman, Susan Smith, murders her two sons. Gingrich draws the only logical conclusion: “I think that the mother killing the two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things. The only way you get change is to vote Republican.”
An age when an unreconstructed white supremacist like Jesse Helms could not only get himself repeatedly elected to the World's Greatest Deliberative Body,  but could threaten the life of the sitting President --
Senator Jesse Helms, the likely next chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, created a new uproar today when he was quoted saying that President Clinton was so unpopular on military bases in North Carolina that he "better have a bodyguard" if he visits the state.
-- and not land his cracker ass in Leavenworth.

An age when ATF black helicopters were probably going to land in your pea patch any minute! full of UN goons who would seize your guns, make you wipe your ass with Old Glory and force you to swear a big, gay oath to Robert Mapplethorpe.  Or something.

In other words, it was a full dress rehearsal for Right's reaction to the Obama Administration and, as such, it all follows a very clear and predictable pattern.

First comes the launch of a sustained, well-funded, hysterical scorched Earth campaign against the sitting Democratic President.  Make up whatever bullshit you need to get the mob a'runnin' and never let up.  Never let any hint of shame that you're just fucking lying leak into your feedback system. Deny everything.  Shout down everyone.  Just. Keep. Pounding. Away.  Day after day, lie after lie, in every media venue you control, never, ever let up, whatever it takes to keep the Pig People whipped into a constant state of squealing, paranoid frenzy.

Second, in the middle of napalming the crops and salting the soil to advance your horrid agenda, throw up your hands in bafflement and sadness that Partisanship Has Ruined Our Politics!

Third, once your strategy of blaming the very real chaos and misery your Conservatism has created on the fake Democratic presidential failings and scandals you have invented blows up in your face, pitch a wild public fit in which you loudly complain that the real fault for all the awful awfulness lies with American people for refusing to live up to your shining moral leadership!

You might remember that the most letter-perfect specimen of this was provided by gambling-addict and all-around loathsome wingnut toad William Bennett when he wrote an entire primal-scream of a book on the subject of the degeneracy of the American people based on their unwillingness to drag Bill Clinton bodily from the White House and ride him out of Bill Bennett's Christian Civilization on a rail (from the transcript from "The Power of Nightmares" with emphasis added):
VO: But despite all his efforts, Kenneth Starr could find no incriminating evidence in Whitewater. Nor could he find any evidence to support any of the sexual scandals that had come from the Arkansas Project. Until finally, his committee stumbled upon Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, which Clinton denied. And in that lie, the neoconservative movement believed they had found what they had been looking for: a way to make the American people see the truth about the liberal corruption of their country. A campaign now began to impeach the President. And in the hysteria, the whole conservative movement portrayed Clinton as a depraved monster who had to be removed from office. But yet again, the neoconservatives had created a fantasy enemy by exaggerating and distorting reality.

JOE CONASON , Author ‘The Hunting of the President' : They were trapped by a mythological person that they had constructed, or persons—the Clintons, these scheming, terrible people who they, the noble pursuers, were going to vanquish. I think, in the leadership of conservatism, during the Clinton era there was an element of corruption. There was an element of a willingness to do anything to achieve the goal of bringing Clinton down. There was a way in which the people who perceived Clinton as immoral behaved immorally themselves. They ended up behaving worse than the people who they were attacking.

VO: But all the moral fury, and the deception, came to nothing. The impeachment failed because the polls consistently showed that Americans still did not care about these moral issues. One leading neoconservative, William Bennett, wrote a book called The Death of Outrage, which blamed the people. He accused the public of making a deal with the devil. Their failure, he said, to support the impeachment, was evidence of their moral corruption.
So why replay all the old tapes from the 90s?

Because they're not old tapes.

Because the Right really has only one playbook when it comes to dealing with a Democrat in the White House:  an avalanche of well-funded lies, a follow-on hurricane of well-funded denial and ersatz indignation, and a big, ol' fit of recrimination and blaming the public when their lies and denials fail.

Which brings us at last to "America's top political wordsmith", Frank Luntz.  Fox News', one-man Orwellian doublespeak Pez dispenser and one of the principals from the infamous 2009 Obama Inauguration Day meeting where he helped the leadership of the GOP conceive and execute their strategy of uniform, lockstep obstruction and hostage-taking as a means to destroy the Obama Administration. 

This Frank Luntz from yesterday, January 6, 2014 -- 20 years after the Right's last failed conspiracy to sabotage and destroy a Democratic president by any means necessary (with emphasis added):
His side had lost. Mitt Romney had, in his view, squandered a good chance at victory with a strategically idiotic campaign. ("I didn't work on the campaign. It just sucked, as a professional. And it killed me because I realized on Election Day that there's nothing I can do about it.") But Luntz's side had lost elections before. His dejection was deeper: It was, he says, about why the election was lost. "I spend more time with voters than anybody else," Luntz says. "I do more focus groups than anybody else. I do more dial sessions than anybody else. I don't know shit about anything, with the exception of what the American people think."

It was what Luntz heard from the American people that scared him. They were contentious and argumentative. They didn't listen to each other as they once had. They weren't interested in hearing other points of view. They were divided one against the other, black vs. white, men vs. women, young vs. old, rich vs. poor. "They want to impose their opinions rather than express them," is the way he describes what he saw. "And they're picking up their leads from here in Washington." Haven't political disagreements always been contentious, I ask? "Not like this," he says. "Not like this."

Luntz knew that he, a maker of political messages and attacks and advertisements, had helped create this negativity, and it haunted him. But it was Obama he principally blamed. The people in his focus groups, he perceived, had absorbed the president's message of class divisions, haves and have-nots, of redistribution. It was a message Luntz believed to be profoundly wrong, but one so powerful he had no slogans, no arguments with which to beat it back. In reelecting Obama, the people had spoken. And the people, he believed, were wrong. Having spent his career telling politicians what the people wanted to hear, Luntz now believed the people had been corrupted and were beyond saving. Obama had ruined the electorate, set them at each other's throats, and there was no way to turn back.
Or, to misquote, Eugene O'Neill:
For Conservatives there is no present or future, only the past, happening over and over again, now.
For more, go now and visit the redoubtable Tengrain at "Mock, Paper, Scissors."  

He is very funny.

Part Two now up at "Frank Luntz Gets a Thunder Buddy"


Cirze said...

What I enjoy the most about the Luntz story is how he sees himself as a truth teller and in no way responsible for all that horrible negativity the country is awash in now.

Which he made millions for.

Good job, Frankie!

freq flag said...

For more, go now and visit the redoubtable Tengrain at "Mock, Paper, Scissors.
He is very funny.

Yeah, I know.
Everybody funny.
Now you funny, too.

Anonymous said...

Good morning, Mr. Glass.

"You should not expect a handout," he tells me. "You should not even expect a safety net. When my house burns down, I should not go to the government to rebuild it. I should have the savings, and if I don't, my neighbors should pitch in for me, because I would do that for them."

It must be great to live in Mr. Luntz' neighborhood of cheap, easily reparable teepees...surrounded by neighbors who have tons of money to throw around because they don't have to worry about paying mortgages, student loans, healthcare costs, car/house repairs, Blue Gal's yarn-addiction, etc.

Enjoy your day.

---Kevin Holsinger

John Polansky said...

I commend you on this posting. I was moved, saddened, angered and amazed by your writing. This one goes into the archive with your other "Best" posting. Thank you.

casimir said...

Every middle school band in the country assembled in one place and all playing Schoenberg simultaneously could not achieve the cognitive dissonance of the Atlantic article. Who is Molly Ball? She is either the driest interlocutor in recorded history, or its most oblivious & servile scribe.

n1ck said...

These people just keep making their nooses tighter and tighter.

Unknown said...

Frank Luntz is crying the tears of a thousand crocodiles.