Tuesday, May 11, 2021

If Speaking Obvious, Ugly Truths About The GOP is Worth a Dozen Headlines a Day...

..., day after day, week after week, then why haven't Liberal bloggers dominated the front pages of every major newspaper for the past 20 years?

For example, this is Liz Cheney today:

“Every one of us who has sworn the oath must act to prevent the unraveling of our democracy. This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans. Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar.  I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former President’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”

This is the Liberal blogosphere nearly 20 years ago:

“Every one of you who has sworn the oath must act to prevent the unraveling of our democracy. This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans. Remaining silent and ignoring the lies about Iraq emboldens the liars.  We will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our country down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the Bush Administration's crusade to undermine our democracy.”

Burn The Lifeboats

Monday, May 10, 2021

File Under: Things That Didn't Work Out As Planned

Because Mona Charen has been an influential, just-below-the-radar, hard-core Conservative for decades, and because despite being a Never Trumper, she hasn't upgraded her basic Conservative operating system one iota, this bit should come as no surprise to anyone. 

The first 14 minutes or so of her Bulwark podcast is basically her explaining in detail that the Republican party is an irredeemable shithole and an immediate and existential threat to American democracy:  

Charen: ...and that... that is what the Republican Party is saying is fine. That they are okay with that... that... that... from now on our elections will be decided, uh, by who has a bigger gang, uh, of thugs who can come and intimidate the Congress while it's counting the votes. And this time most of them were not armed, but next time who's to say.

All of this is served up, of course, without the slightest acknowledgement that she or other influential Conservatives might have had anything to do with what their party has become.  As if it had all happened far away, in a different Republican party, in a different America, on a different plane of existence.

And then come's the sudden but inevitable betrayal.  

Charen: ...isn't this, I mean the... the, so, the parlous state of the Republican party -- and Linda [Chavez]'s you know, I totally second what Linda said about it being much bigger than the Republican party.  It's a danger to the country. Um, but in light of that doesn't this sort of cry out for the Democratic party to, um, reign in its own extremists so that they can be appealing to people in the middle and not, y'know, and not have those people fleeing into the arms of a completely irresponsible party, namely the Republicans.

Which is not surprising.  As I 've written before, from the moment they broke with Donald Trump, Charen and Never Trumpers like her have absolutely reeked of the imperious entitlement of dispossessed Russian aristocrats after the revolution.  

Aristocrats who had been run out of their out of their country by the serfs they had exploited.

Aristocrats who suddenly found themselves financially dependent on the largess of people they detested.

Aristocrats who, with that special, asshole-arrogance that comes with an inbred sense of entitlement,  become indignant when their hosts don't snap to and do as they're told.

Aristocrats who still believe in their God-given right to command a national spotlight and who go right on airily insisting they know what the serfs really want.

But what happened next was a surprise.

As usual, podcast regular Damon Linker felt obliged to find a way to sorta agree with his host.

Damon Linker:  Uh well sure.  I mean there are certain parallels between the two parties. They each have, uh, a restive base, uh, that is demanding certain things that aren't really, I think, in the interest of the country.

driftglass:  Really Mr. Linker? Really?  What exactly is the "restive" Democratic base asking for that is not in the interest of the country?  Student loan debt forgiveness?  Affordable healthcare?  Help with child care?  Serious action on the dire climate crisis?  Criminal justice reform?  Sensible gun control?  And beyond Owning!The!Libs!, overturning the 2020 election, memory holing the 01/06/2021 armed GOP insurrection and enacting Jim Crow 2.0 voter suppression legislation across the country, what exactly does the GOP base want?

But then, having dispensed with the obligations of hospitality, Mr. Linker began a turn I did not expect.

Linker:  ...although the difference is that 70 percent, as we keep saying, of the Republican Party believes a complete, delusional fantasy about reality whereas on the Democratic side it's something like maybe 20 percent to 30 at the most of the party is sort of involved in a sort of quasi-religious activist mindset.

driftglass: It's 91% of the GOP that are irredeemably nuts, and 7% of registered Democrats who believe Biden has Secret Green Lantern powers that he is refusing to use to pass legislation, but OK...

Linker:  Uh and then, of course, Biden is doing all kinds of things in economic policy that some people in the centrist... in the center... aren't entirely comfortable with...

driftglass: Which people?  What "center"?  

But then...
Linker: ...but I don't think that part of it is really comparable. Um, and so the Republicans, I think, are definitely the more dangerous of the two.  And I mean,  you ask... you ask the Biden administration your question and they would say, "We're already doing that. "We're governing responsibly. We you know we have this economic agenda, it seems to be pretty popular in the polls. And so, y'know, those sensible Republicans who have decided rightly that their party has gone off the deep end, they can come right over to us right now! We're happy to have them!" Um, so I'm not sure what the incentive structure is for Democrats to do much more than they already have and blow up their own electoral coalition as a result.

 And he goes on.  At length.  Putting the blame for the terrifying trajectory of the GOP where it belongs -- on the base of the party -- and wondering aloud what Liz Cheney's hopes to gain from her theatrics.  What's the plan.

As she felt the game of "Pin responsibility for cleaning up our toxic disaster on the Democrats" sliding the wrong way, out came Ms. Charen's deeply-held aristocratic faith in the Party Elite.  That however deranged the lumpen wingnut masses may be, the Republican social compact holds that their role in all of this is to shut the hell and do what Mona Charen's friends tells them to do.  And however far the wingnut sheep may have strayed from the fold, it's the failure of shepherds of the Party Elite that allowed this to happen:

Charen: You know you might have thought that after Trump is out of office, having been denied his platforms on social media, um, that this was an opportunity for the elites in the party and for the party in general to, um, begin to distance themselves from Trump and, um, and so that it seems to me if... if there had been other people who, uh, who followed [Liz Cheney's] lead it might have made a difference.  Look, y'know, the... the sure there's a big problem with the base. But... but the base takes its cues from elites, let's face it.  The elites they happen to follow the most slavishly are people like Tucker Carlson, um, but... but the elites matter...

What you will never hear GOP aristocrats like Mona Charen admit is that, by her own definition of "elites" -- people from whom the base of the party takes its cues -- for the last 30 years the Republican party's most important "elites" by far have been men like Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Jerry Falwell and the  many, many political and media imitators they spawned.  These are the people who codified the language of rage, racism, paranoia and reflexive, unhinged contempt for Democrats as the GOP's mother tongue.  Who taught an entire generation of of Conservative voters and politicians that compromise was betrayal, that the press was the enemy and that they should never, ever trust anyone who told them anything they didn't want to hear.

In other words, party aristocrats knew about the monster that was growing in their basement. Of course they knew, because how could all these lords and ladies of the GOP who have been wired into Republican politics for decades possibly not know.  Turn on AM radio anywhere in the country at any point in the past 30 years and you knew instantly what the base was thinking.  Look who the party credited with its 1994 sweep to power -- whose approval party leaders were forced to grovel for whenever they stepped out of line -- and you knew instantly who the party "elites" really were.

And while Liberals warned that the GOP was setting something dark and terrible at the throat of our democracy -- something the GOP  would never be able to control-- party aristocrats like Mona Charen dismissed such warnings as alarmist crackpottery and were perfectly content with this arrangement until it was far too late.   

And while neither Limbaugh nor Falwell nor Gingrich are name-checked during the balance of this podcast, it's clear that, among themselves, the people gathered around these microphones have a pretty clear idea that the real problem with the Republican party is that it's full of Republicans.  

David French [podcast guest]:  ...But now I got to agree about the base. I mean the base, right now, I mean if you're gonna... I was talking to somebody who's very well plugged-into the, uh, Williamson County Republican -- I'm in Williamson County, Tennessee.  Williamson County, Tennessee is kind of a piggy bank of the GOP.  It's a very, very Red place.  I did that little New York Times tool where you were trying to figure out what kind of bubble you're in and 85 [percent?] of my neighbors are Republicans.  And I found out from talking to these folks who are very plugged-in that people are furious at Marsha Blackburn. Furious, why?  Because she didn't do more.  She didn't do more to save Trump in the election.

Mr. French then reads a completely batshit email comparing Trump to Jesus which he says is fairly indicative of the attitudes of the GOP base where he lives.

French: And so a lot of a lot of these guys will say to you, "What do you want me to do?  Because if I stand against trump I'm done. I'm going to be replaced and do you think this is good for the country?  I'll be replaced by Lauren Boebert. I'll be replaced by Matt... y'know Madison Cawthorne.  I'll be replaced by Marjorie Taylor Green, and is that going to be great for America? No."  So on the one hand you've got to have leadership, but on the other hand you also have a giant base problem.

Then the pile on began picking up speed..

Bill Galston: Very briefly Mona, uh, I guess I disagree with you about the extent to which elite opinion has governed the transition to Trump and is ensuring the non-transition away from Trump.  Uh, on my reading, Donald Trump won the Republican primary in 2016 because he was saying what the base wanted to hear. Uh, and nobody was directing them to ratify Trump's message.  

Galston: They did it on their own.   They then proceeded for four years -- all four years of the Trump presidency -- to give him unswerving support even in the face of events that would have toppled anyone else. So no, I don't think this is a question of what the elites are thinking or doing.  I think it's a question of what the rank and file has come to believe for reasons that I've spent years trying to understand...

Come on, Galston, this is just not that hard to figure out.  

The base believes these things because this is what's been spewing out of Conservative Hate Radio and Fox News and into their skulls for decades, and because they've been taught by Conservative Hate Radio and Fox News that the only source of "news" they can trust is...Conservative Hate Radio and Fox News.  All of which took place right out in the open and with the approval of party aristocrats like your host, Mona Charen.  

What's happening is nothing more or less than the GOP reaping exactly what it's spent decades sowing.

And party aristocrats like Mona Charen choking on it.

Burn The Lifeboats

Friday, May 07, 2021

Professional Left Podcast #597

“Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. ”
-- Groucho Marx

Don't forget to visit our website -- http://www.proleftpod.com -- for all those sweet bells and whistles:  there are links to donate to our podcast work at that site, as well as links to our swingin' Zazzle merch store,  our respective blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Kittehs! and much more. Many thanks once again to @theologop for building it all for us!

The Professional Left is brought to you by our wholly imaginary "sponsors" and real listeners like you!

Critical Base Theory: Part II

Yesterday in Part I of this essay we all went for a bracing walk through recent American political history to establish beyond any doubt that the racist Republican party that nominated, elected and still overwhelmingly supports Donald Trump was at least 50 years in the making.

We called this canonical history of of the modern GOP  "Critical Base Theory Prime" (because we're clever that way), and it holds that the Republican base is the way it is because of the long-term Republican strategy by Republican politicians, think tanks and Conservative media to build an electoral army of reprogrammable meatbags -- a strategy which proved to be both highly successful and highly profitable.    And we did so without me having to force you to read long passages from the comprehensive history of the modern Republican party I wrote four years ago ("In The Beginning...") , so you're welcome!

Then, with that that firm foundation laid, we looked at some of the ways in which prominent anti-Trump Republicans have attempted to explain their obliviousness to the overt racism that more and more came to be the central electoral pillar of the GOP (and the loyal consumers of all forms of Conservative media) even as they helped shape that party's trajectory.  

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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Critical Base Theory: Part I

This week in Privileged Middle-Aged Conservative White Guys Talking About Race, we take a short dive into the tortured theories of anti-Trump Republicans  about how their party went insane, their Object Permanence problem when it comes to understanding of their own party's base, and their  seething resentment over Liberal's pointing out that their racist party was, in fact, a racist party back when they were still swearing that it wasn't.

But first, a Fun Fact.  As I was taking a break from screwing around with my blog format because now that Trump has a blog, well... outlining this post, I chanced to listen to Wednesday's offering from The Bulwark podcast and found that Charlie Sykes had dropped an even more craven and venomous example of how deeply committed anti-Trump Republicans are to contorting reality in order to weasel out of responsibility for what their party has become than the original "Tom Nichols and Charlie Sykes Bitching About Liberals" episode which had moved me to start writing this thing.   In this example, "Robert Tracinski and Charlie Sykes Bitching About Liberals" Mr. Sykes and his guest go so far as to blame Liberal both for the election of Donald Trump and for somehow inducing his Republican party to become a racist shithole.

You have to hear it to believe it.  Or read it, because I'll be quoting it later on.

If Speaking Obvious, Ugly Truths About The GOP is Worth a Dozen Headlines a Day...

..., day after day, week after week, then why haven't Liberal bloggers dominated the front pages of every major newspaper for the past ...