Sunday, November 20

That's Stupid, But This Is Smart?

Kathleen Parker, "The Palinization of the GOP". November 18

HONESTLY, whaddya want for getting the point after thirty years? A Pulitzer?
The headline on Democratic strategist Paul Begala’s recent Newsweek essay dodged subtlety: “The Stupid Party.”

“Republicans used to admire intelligence. But now they’re dumbing themselves down,” was the subhead.

Democrats couldn’t agree more.

Sure, lady. Why would any Democrat disagree with beloved liberal spokesman Paul Begala?

Now Republicans're dumbing themselves down? Compared to what? They kicked the real intellectuals out of the party in 1964.

I'm not a Democrat, except by default, at election time, sometimes. If I were. and I discovered just this week that my fellow party members "couldn't agree more" that Republicans had somehow "lost" their admiration for "intelligence", and that intelligence was defined by the work of Bill Fuhbuckley, George Eff Will, and Milton Friedman, I'd now be an ex-Democrat.

Look at what Buckley was a spokesman for, back when Paul Begala was an earnest young liberal: what was left of the Cold War, and what racism could still be camouflaged enough to wear in public. His bowtied little doppelgänger was working Reaganomics and Catholic culture war (abortion, abortion, and abortion), and when was Friedman anything but a secular apologist for Looting & Piracy, Inc.? I'm sorry, but unless you shared a sizable portion of the belief system there's no way you found their arguments anything other than insane. And Begala's a Reagantot, born 1961; if he admired the argumentation and reading skills Will honed on Jimmy Carter's stolen briefing books, why didn't he become a real Republican?

Begala Democrats have done as much damage to the country as any of the dolts on that Republican dais.

Sure Democrats agree that the current Republican party is missing three-quarters of its screws and needs a good torque wrench for the other 25%. I like to think they're also figuring out that their own centrist wing doesn't deserve the name Democrat. These are the people who elevated a minority group of fluoridationalist cranks, religious maniacs, and aggrieved racists to co-equal status, who handed Ronald Reagan his legislative victories, the ones that set the ball rolling on thirty years of government disfunction, then decided that, in the interest of winning elections, Democrats needed to be more like him. Now they're nostalgic for the days when one could splash around in the cesspool with monarchists, class warriors, back-dated colonialists, and nuclear war aficionados, and they'd help you clean up before cocktail hour? Why? So they can surrender to 'em all over again?
And quietly, many Republicans share the sentiment. They just can’t seem to stop themselves.

No. Funny thing, though, most people who've sped up specifically to crash through the guardrail and plunge into the 5000 ft. ravine on the other side do not quietly wonder in mid-plummet why the power steering stopped working.
Moreover, where Buckley tried to rid the GOP of fringe elements, notably the John Birch Society, today’s conservatives have let them back in. The 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference was co-sponsored by the Birchers.

Please. No more of this crap. Buckley did not "rid" the movement of Birchers; he kicked 'em off the Goldwater Express (this was like giving an incontinent cur a flea bath) for an election cycle because they were an embarrassment to sane people, a demographic the modern Republican party has discounted. Without appreciably affecting its electoral results.
Meanwhile, the big tent fashioned by Ronald Reagan has become bilious with the hot air of religious fervor.

What? Reagan's "big tent" consisted of Nixon Republicans and newly-politicized backwoods snake-handlers. Who'd heard of Jerry Falwell before the 1980 election?
No one was more devout than the very-Catholic Buckley, but you didn’t see him convening revivals in the public square.

Darlin', tent revivals are a Low-Church Protestant affair. You mean Buckley did not publicly announce he'd found an image of the Holy Virgin in his morning danish. What he did do was fan the issue of the "exclusion" of Christianity from the public square. Smart marketing. Disgruntlement has a longer shelf life.
Nor is it likely he would have embraced fundamentalist views that increasingly have forced the party into a corner where science and religion can’t coexist.

Yeah, by the middle of the 20th century Buckley had more-or-less come to terms with the science of the 19th. Remarkable achievement.
Nevertheless, the Republican base requires that candidates tack away from science toward the theistic position — only God controls climate.

Bosh. The Republican position is that we shouldn't regulate business. The "libertarian" Republican position on climate change is no less theocratic than the Limbaugh position, and both really rely mostly on the fact that if Al Gore said something, they're agin it.
It takes courage to swim against the tide of know-nothingness that has become de rigueur among the anti-elite, anti-intellectual Republican base.

How would we know?
Call it the Palinization of the GOP, in which the least informed earns the loudest applause.

Ronald Reagan said evolution was "just a theory", said trees cause pollution, thought children should be forced to pray to a Bronze Age supernatural being in public school, called FDR a Fascist and his wife Mommy. The only difference between him and Sarah Palin, or Herman Cain, is that they weren't nurtured by Warner Brothers.
Even so, there are signs that the GOP is recognizing its weaknesses and is ready to play smarter. To wit: The sudden surge of Gingrich, who, whatever his flaws and despite the weight of his considerable baggage, is no intellectual slouch.

In case you dozed off, a column by a Pulitzer Prize-winning "conservative" which began by asking what's become of Republican intellectualism concludes by touting the intellect of a fraud and a huckster as reason for hope. Does anyone even care anymore how doomed we are?


R. Porrofatto said...

Oh thou swell. You nailed the point she completely missed: Newt "B.J." Gingrich as the GOP's premier intellectual is the very definition of "dumbing down." Bachman et al are just the spawn of right-wing radio knuckle-draggers and bible-thumpers, and the word "intellect" can't be sensibly used in proximity to them any more than "Sean Hannity." But Gingrich? There are single-celled organisms with greater capacity for "profoundly transformational" thought, and certainly Newt's eponymous amphibian has a more refined sense of shame.

Anonymous said...

Give Ms. Parker credit for a gymnastic feat: straddling a fence while keeping her head buried on the right hand side. She's trying to be a contrarian and appear reasonable while still staying in the reactionary fold. Nonetheless, I think that she and Newt Gingrich should be beaten with red-tipped staves, each stuffed in a leather bag with a monkey, a dog, a poisonous snake, and a rooster, and the bags thrown into the Potomac.

cleter said...

That seems like a mean thing to do to a monkey, a dog, and a poisonous snake.

Li'l Innocent said...

In the interests of pure objectivity, I recently saw a WW2 film in which a very young, pre-Mommy, pre-Mommy's dad, even pre-Jane Wyman Ron Reagan turned in quite a nice performance, which I'm willing to bet was far beyond the capacities of Palin, Caine, or any of the other current beings. Not that this excuses anything he did in the political arena.

El Manquécito said...

I'm sorry, I dozed off. What were you saying? Pulitzer Prize? No kidding.

Anonymous said...

Shorter Parker: Today's Republicans are a bunch of proudly ignorant assholes. We should vote for them anyway.

hells littlest angel said...

I'm failing to see the point of your gripe. Would you expect any partisan columnist to say, my party is stupid and has been for decades?

LP Steve said...

It's a curse being old enough to remember this shit, innit?