Andrew Sullivan and Matt Yglesias build another pretty man out of straw.
From "The Daily Dish"
"Who Really Runs The Right?"
It's an interesting question. Matt Yglesias thinks the media elite runs the conservative movement. Proof:Suppose there’s some sellout that John Boehner wants to implement. Boehner recognizes that he needs to pair this with a symbolic but meaningless gesture. Now suppose he sits down in a room with Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Donohue, and David Koch and persuades all three of those people that this is the right way to proceed. ...This strikes me as overstating elite conspiracy theories. The swinging dicks that Yglesias namechecks tend to support Team Red, but that doesn't mean their self-interest aligns so neatly that they would sit down in a room together and collude. Issues that divide the right, like immigration, have proved as much in the past. Look at CPAC's inability to grapple with a handful of right-leaning homosexuals.
But one begins to worry that Tea Partiers are overly credulous when it comes to conservative elites. So many of its members trust the factual veracity of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News...
An "interesting question"?
No. No, its not. It is a silly question. In fact, it is one of the silliest. fake-debate questions I've heard in a long time.
Why not ask who really runs a keiretsu? Who really runs the mob? Who really runs the Illinois political Combine?
These are alliances of mutual, monied interests; alliances which share a unifying ideology that is enforced relentlessly and -- like Mormonism deciding to rewrite some of its most inconveniently racist "revealed truths" -- re-imagineered occasionally and incrementally. Like the Chicago political machine, the instrumentalities of the modern Right are designed to make absolutely sure that only those who have completely internalized its corporate culture make it into middle management, and that all potential challengers are either co-opted and absorbed, or smothered in their political cribs.
There is no Big Brother bestriding the Right, because there doesn't need to be: because the one, genuine innovation of the Right has been to spend 40 years carefully cultivating a dumbed-down Base which at this point are little more than reprogrammable Golem.
Whatever they are told today through the Right's trusted in-house organs, they will believe.
Whatever those in-house sources tell them tomorrow -- even if it is in 180 degree opposition to what they were told today -- they will believe.
Because the day-to-day ebb and flow of Conservative lies -- no matter how malevolent or jaw-droppingly ridiculous -- no longer matters to a Base that knows only two things: that Big Brother loves them and that Emmanuel Goldstein is to blame for all of their problems.
Not that there aren't identifiable differences and boundaries between the major players on the Right, just as there are identifiable differences between the House of Daley and the House of Madigan in Illinois. It's just that those difference are virtually always subsumed and resolved within the family, for the greater good of the whole machine. A machine which is now running on autopilot: sucking in votes, eyeballs and dollars from the the Pig People, and spewing out policy and talking points that ever-more-aggressively entrench the interests of the Party of Reagan and God, ever-more-hysterically attack Emmanuel Goldstein for the ever-more-frequent-and-catastrophic failures of those policies and talking points, and ever-more-immensely enrich the machine's caretakers.
Of course it's a scam -- a childishly transparent scam to anyone standing outside of it. And of course it's incredibly destructive. So is selling meth. So is cranking out propaganda denying global climate change. So what? Working for evil will always pay better than teaching school or feeding the poor, and those at the bottom of the Ponzi scheme will always end up getting fucked, but so what? As long as the wingnut proles have have their one-size-fits-all scapegoats, they will never rise up, and as long as the hundreds of thousands of Inner Party stooges continue to swim in an open sewer of Frank Luntz/AEI/Karl Rove talking points that they willingly eat, drink, shit and regurgitate, they will continue to lack even the basic vocabulary necessary to understand the evil which they so eagerly serve.
Of course, outside of the Beltway Bell Jar there still exists a group called "Liberals": a group that has repeatedly tried to warn that this day was coming.
Tried and failed. Again and again. For years and years.
Which is why the entire system depends on Hating Goldstein. Because the whole filthy enterprise would fall apart if these God Fearing Patriots of the Right were ever forced to stop for even a moment and submit to an honest accounting of who has been right and who as has been wrong for the last generation or two.
Neither the Right nor the Center could not survive such a Moment of Clarity, which is why so much of propaganda from both quarters is singularly devoted to Hating Liberals; why, especially in Conservative media outlets, such an enormous amount of energy is spent every single day ruthlessly and continuously marginalizing and demonizing opponents, using every name in the book from Commie to Terrorist-lover to Fifth Columnist.
Hating Goldstein has also proven to be an extraordinarily profitable business: a bottomless ATM machine for everyone from Andrew Sullivan and David Frum, to Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, to a thousand other, lesser-lights who could never have made a living pulling an honest plow, but have managed to build very fine careers on punching hippies, pandering to swine and worshiping Reagan on cue.
Of course some like Mr. Sullivan jumped out of the Conservative Clown Car when the sheer tonnage of the bullshit they were expected to swallow finally exceeded the limits of their gag-reflex-suppression skills, while others like Mr. Frum were pushed out as the Wingnut Purity Tests became ever more rarefied and yahoo-rific. These became the Conservative Expatriate community, and watching them them build a cottage industry out of "discovering" and taking righteous umbrage at the same, old Conservative outrages that Liberals have been trying to get people to pay attention to since the Nixon Administration has been, well, I suppose "amusing" is the nicest word for it.
Because the Palinite Angel of Death the Liberals warned about for so long has at last arrived, and watching all the Expatriate Conservatives scramble at this late hour to slather their lintels with Centrist lamb's blood and beg for reasonableness from the mob of mindless Golem they helped create, there is little left for a veteran Goldstein to do but shrug.
They would not listen
They're not listening still.
Perhaps they never will.
I re-read 1984 back in 2002 when the war drums were beating and the rational voices were being shouted down as treasonous. It all made perfect sense then, it's intensifying now, and just look at the CIA experiments in South America to get a good look at our future here in the cradle of democracy. We are well and truly fucked. Enjoy your gin ration!
If only I could write like you.
If only more than a few other people like I are reading your every word.
Bestriding the Right there is no Big Brother because there doesn't need to be: because the great innovation of the Right has been to spend 40 years carefully cultivating a dumbed-down Base which at this point are little more than reprogrammable Golem.
. . . outside of the Beltway Bell Jar
. . . Hating Goldstein has also proven to be an extraordinarily profitable business: a bottomless ATM machine
I can add nothing to that, except a humble bow and my thanks.
And Amen to that.. well put!
This type of power gambit has been going on since the adaptation of agriculture and the formation of small towns, which evolved into "city-states." After 8,000 years of practice we have America. Epic Fail.
Driftglass, you've done great work deflating the gasbags of right-wing groupthink!
While I'm still pissed at Sullivan's "fifth column" remarks, I nonetheless hope that his epiphanies-of-the-elite commentary can help guide some of his center-right audience in the direction of a reality-based sanity--perhaps at a faster pace than they could otherwise manage.
Thank you for this brilliant essay!
ever-more-hysterically attack [strike]Emmanuel Goldstein[/strike]Osama bin Laden
As usual, Driftglass said it all. Dude, you are the best.
I knew when we elected Nixon in 1968 that this country was on a rollercoaster ride to Hell.
And has anything changed since the assassinations of MLK and the Kennedys? Since McCarthyism? Since Jim Crow? Since the Gilded Age?
I always divide it up into Big Republicans and Little Republicans. The Big Republicans are the ones who benefit from most Republican policies, at least the ones of substance (like tax breaks, regulation removal, and taxpayer financed subsidies).
The Little Republicans run on pure hate, with nothing else motivating them. As long as the people they hate are harmed, they care about nothing else.
It is possible for them to be at odds. For example, there are a number of Big Republicans who benefit by the status quo when it comes to immigration. The Little Republicans want a 0 tolerance policy for immigration with harsh, punitive penalties for the immigrants and ideally for anyone who helps them.
Not to long ago, Marco Rubio was told to take one for the team, and explained that even he would be subject to harsh treatment under Arizona's harsh regime. Well, my Republican relatives turned on Rubio, just like that! More recently, Peggy Noonan suggested that perhaps Mitt Romney wasn't doing himself any favors with his harsh 47% rhetoric. Well, she's down in my parents' book now too, for standing up in favor those mooching, parasitic, black people that they believe Mitt was talking about. Then my Dad sent me a video in which a very poor black woman was talking about an "Obama Phone" as an example of the problem.
Concentrated hatred, the kind that warms your heart at night....
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