RIP GOP: 1865 to 2009
October 2, 2009 in republicans
While it is certainly too early to prognosticate the results of the 2010 elections more than a year before they happen, it is equally certain that the GOP’s current state of affairs doesn’t bode well for a breakthrough any time in the immediate future.
All the blustery GOP hot air about a comeback in the next election cycle is merely an attempt to distract the gullible from noticing the facts on the ground, as they stand today. Soothsayers have for centuries warned that “the end is nigh.” GOP stalwarts might want to start paying attention to the foreboding omens all about them, because this political dinosaur is on the verge of extinction, and seems to be just about as aware of its own impending mass evaporation as were the raptors of old.
Let’s take a look at the detritus all around us, shall we? Because this party – that should have nowhere to go but up – is about to get shellacked into oblivion.
OBAMA 54 38
PELOSI 34 57
REID 31 57
McCONNELL 18 64
BOEHNER 12 63
CONG. DEMS 38 57
CONG. GOP 17 70
DEM. PARTY 40 50
REP. PARTY 22 68
While the GOP gleefully points to the President’s incrementally dipping approval ratings, they seem less than anxious to examine their own, wherein lie whatever slim hopes for revival they might still entertain. Like Monty Python’s Black Knight, they lie on the ground, armless and legless, daring those who laid them low to come back for more. At present, more voters believe in UFOs than they do in the GOP.
As one can see just by looking at the above simple poll graph, no matter how badly Pelosi and Reid might fare with the voting public, their counterparts Boehner and McConnell rack up results twice as bad. Ditto for the Congressional Republicans, whose ever-sliding popularity is dropping toward the single digits with greater momentum, making them only marginally more popular than herpes. Congressional Dems may not have much cause to celebrate, with fewer than four in ten voters applauding their efforts.
However, when a major health care bill passes into law – no matter how disemboweled and diluted the eventual result may be – Democrats will have scored a victory that will inflate their flat numbers above the 50% mark. What will the GOP have to show for its staunch pro-corporate shilling in opposition to whatever passes into law? Nothing but increased animus from a voting populace that still – after all the GOP Birther’n'Bagger Town Hall bullshit – favors inclusion of the public option, and will long remember at whose insistence it was removed, presuming that it will be excised from the final bill.
The President’s own numbers are about where one would expect them to be, mirroring the popular vote in the election that put him into the Oval Office. Sure, he’s dipped from the honeymoon highs of early in the year, as one would expect. But given the unrestrained hostility aimed at him by those whose only recourse has been shrill invective and falsehoods, he has retained his base strength. The GOP only wishes it could say the same, for self-identified Republican voters now hover somewhere southbound of one in four members of the general population.
For any other President, Obama’s current popularity level would be considered par for the course, an inevitable diminution from the euphoric post-electoral high. But three things suggest that Obama is actually far exceeding what might be reasonable expectations for any other Commander in Chief.
First, we must recall the steaming hot shit sandwich left on his plate by the departing Bush junta. An economic climate unparalleled since at least the Great Depression; leading to unprecedented monetary intervention in the “free market” which has yet to yield vote-attracting benefits for the White House; two wars of poor choice, neither of which is now going swimmingly well; an apocalyptic auto sector that has only been kept on life support, but not yet stabilized into health; an internecine health care debate that has served only to frighten Obama’s opponents without giving succor to his supporters; worries about a tripling of the nation’s debt load; and much, much more besides.
Second, the personal vilification of Obama has been as savage as it has been baseless. Those who slept through the two elections stolen by his predecessor Bush The Usurper have now arisen from their slumber, using hammer and tongs, sickle and swastika to depict Obama as an illegitimate leader.
It is not just that he was born in Indonesia, or Kenya or Canada or whatever foreign port of call might render him ineligible for the post. It is the insistence that this lukewarm Christian is actually a raving Muslim fundamentalist, bound and determined to cede our country to its sworn enemies.
It is that he is a Commie, and/or a Nazi, and/or a socialist, and/or a totalitarian dictator just itching for the proper pretext to put real patriots into FEMA internment camps. Then he can declare the Amero the new coin of the realm and open up the NAFTA superhighway that will spell the end of this great nation once and for all.
It is that he is too inexperienced and naive – fuck the birth certificate; where’s your CV? – to match the superb job done by stalwart brainiac diplomat Dubya.
Nothing is too caustic or toxic, so long as it serves to undermine the legitimacy of this man’s Presidency.
Third, have you heard the President is… black?
While not a sufficient deterrent to his election, racism is a festering sore that lingers long. Only a fool would declare that all opposition to Obama and his policies is race-based; but it is equally delusional to deny the existence of any racial animus, for it is only too obvious to all but those who choose for their own reasons to abide and rationalize it.
A recent newspaper article trolled the south, searching for a rationale that drives the antipathy felt toward this President. When asked what they oppose about his policies, the interviewees invariably, repeatedly recoiled against his big spending, but couldn’t put their finger on what it was about the man himself that bothers them so. And then each of them, without being asked, rushed to assure that racism had nothing to do with it.
Given the foregoing circumstances, what is remarkable about Obama’s polling numbers is that they are still so high. It is a testament to the President that he hasn’t yet been sunk by the burdens of office, particularly since they are so unprecedentedly onerous.
But, even more crucial is what this says about our country and the people who inhabit it. Despite all the flim-flammery, all the astroturf million-dollars-a-day spent on distorted advertising and funded militancy, all the Town Hall kabuki, all the imprecations of doom and disaster, the majority of our voters are mature enough to withhold judgment until they’ve actually seen the bill, unwritten at the times of greatest concocted discontent with it.
If it helps you sleep easier at night to know that not all your fellow citizens are hucksters and rubes, carpetbaggers, crackers and yokels, take solace in knowing that you are far from alone, and that your existence gives the same comfort to others.
It is such numbers that embolden former President Jimmy Carter to state the obvious about race. Even those who don’t necessarily disagree with the observation wish he hadn’t made it, and imply Carter is viewing events through an old-world, southern prism that no longer exists. Yet his sentiments were echoed by former Vice President Walter Mondale. The last time your humble scribe checked, Mondale’s home state is neither south of the Mason-Dixon line, nor encased in amber.
This will not stop the most vocal rump of the GOP from indulging in coded racial politics, an artform perfected during Nixon’s Southern Strategy days to exploit school busing for political gain. Rush Limbaugh will prattle on impotently about “white civil rights;” Glenn Beck will continue to assert the President is a racist, while ignoring its most self-evident manifestation in his some of his own supporters; younger GOP firebrands will demand abortions be performed in the public square; idiots will run Facebook polls asking if the President should be killed; and the rabble who follow them will demand the President return to Africa, where he apparently belongs. Just today a rightwing asshat advocated – while claiming not to do so – a military coup as the solution to our country’s “Obama problem:”
“Will the day come when patriotic general and flag officers sit down with the president, or with those who control him, and work out the national equivalent of a “family intervention,” with some form of limited, shared responsibility?
Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars.”
Something so innocuous as answering census questions has been scarified into a mythical database of right-minded citizens who will be vacuumed up into concentration camps when the President thinks the time is right. Michele Bachmann conjured that fever dream, and given the recent hanging of a census worker, left bound, gagged, naked, with “Fed” scrawled upon his chest, that fever may yet prove to have been contagious. (The census worker in question was a single father, teacher, Boy Scout leader and did part time census work to help make ends meet, knowing it carried with it an increased element of danger due to such disreputable delusions.)
The lack of news about this crime led one soulless, vomit-eyed asshole to speculate – absent any evidence, let alone proof – that the dead census worker might have been a paedophile upon whom revenge was taken by a hypothetical victim. Based on considerably more evidence, your humble scribe would speculate that the wrong man was found hanging at the end of that rope. Those on the right who indulge in such groundless blame-the-victim character assassination deserve their own private innermost circle of Hell, and should arrive there ASAP.
Moderate GOPers have eschewed such vile rhetoric, but have refrained from ridiculing it, lest they fall afoul of Limbaugh and his sidekicks, whose national reach and influence they fear. Michael Steele and others have learned to their chagrin that they dare not demean Rush by calling him a mere entertainer, lest they be required by pressure to immediately eat their own words.
Poor GOP results in 2006 and 2008 have been attributed, in part, to a perceived Dem advantage in using the internet, e-mail and social networking sites as campaign tools. If only there were a GOP equivalent, it was thought, future elections would be fought on a more level playing field. There may be some validity in the observation, but one must be careful about the things for which one wishes. A single site musing that murdered census workers were kiddie-diddlers can undo much.
The internet is now lousy with right-leaning sites. They have no greater coherent strategy than the party closest to their sentiments. Internecine wars rage between the other, more racist McCain (the one who makes John seem cuddly by comparison) and Little Green Footballs. David Frum mocks the embarrassingly retrograde, while they in turn attack him and all others who fail their own litmus tests and are thus unworthy of GOP purity rings. Republican Cage Match! Far from technology uniting the right, the emergence of its internet personae has fragmented it further.
The coming split in the Republican party – the divorce of the corporatist elite and the bilious Bible-pounding, gun-toting rabble whom they wooed and won – is inevitable. It will not come in time to alter the outcome of the 2010 elections, but if the GOP doesn’t do well in that cycle – particularly if it doesn’t – the schism will irreparably erupt into a third party, in time to hobble the GOP further in 2012. The only way to forestall such a primal cell-division is to galvanize the party back into a single, unified force.
Yet, without a leader, and lacking a perceptible message beyond “No!,” the voice of the right no longer comes from within the GOP, but is transmitted from, and audible to, its immediate right. Too timid to excommunicate what is left of its own shrinking base, yet too cowardly to rein it into learning acceptable discourse, the GOP has dissolved into constituent parts who abhor, yet cannot survive without, each other. Simple fear of alienating what little is left of the once formidable party has led to a stasis from which nothing has emerged save obstructionism and nay-saying. With so great a vacuum, who will step into the void and reshape the GOP?
Mike Huckabee? He, who opined that Ted Kennedy would have been “urged” to die sooner under Obama’s proposed health care plan? The same guy who just said the UN is bunkum? The dude who slimmed down to run for President and has since ballooned back up to comedy weight? The one whose son likes lynching stray dogs? Charming.
Mitt Romney? You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but Mitt Romney didn’t fool anybody significant last time around and won’t be the breath of fresh air the GOP needs for next time around. Too liberal for the extremist fringe, too shape-shifting for the moderates, Romney’s Mormonism strikes the same fear of the “other” that triggers so much of the GOP’s xenophobia.
Michele Bachmann? She certainly fancies herself to be Presidential material, and accuses her detractors of trying to prevent her imminent rise to become the nation’s first female President. But that’s just one of her many retarded fantasies. Professional Bible-spouting baby farmer, Bachmann sees black helicopters and internment camps in her immediate future, and fears for our country ever bit as manfully as Glenn Beck, crying when it suits her purpose just as rotely as he does. She is one of the loosest cannons most feared by GOP moderates, precisely because she panders to other head injury victims who alienate voters possessed of functioning brains.
Sarah Palin may yet rise from the political dead, now that Zombies and Twilight vampires are all the rage. But she drove a wooden stake through the heart of her own political aspirations when she resigned as Governor of Alaska well before her term ended. Subsequent revelations about her and her paraded poster children have reduced her stock to “sell” status. So fickle and unsteady a hand will never get within range of the GOP nomination, let alone helming the ship of state.
Rick Santorum? Admittedly the longest of long shots, the man with a particularly odious mix of bodily secretions named after him is nevertheless eyeing a run for the big prize. Now packing his bags for Iowa speechifying preparatory to his formal announcement, this Christian zealot makes the Taliban seem half-hearted in the race to the bottom of true believers. That a man of so little actual achievement and so much derisive mockery is even mentioned on the short-list is an indication of just how woefully wide open the field could be for the GOP primaries.
Newt Gingrich? Fuck, yeah, riiiiiiight….. Next!
Liz Cheney has been making the rounds of political porn shows, and has thus far proved only one thing with her incessant proclivity for interrupting others: she was raised with incredibly poor manners by parents who were absent without leave during their mandatory childrearing service years. The arrogant condescension oozes from each and every self-interested pore. The irony of smugly railing against entitlement, while being the embodiment of it, is lost on her. This shrew being groomed for potential juggernaut status is a bad, surreal re-run of a show we’ve already seen and loathe. If her name weren’t Cheney, it would already be her nickname
Bobby Jindal? Tim Pawlenty? Or how about the handsome dark horses of not long ago, the now farcical John Ensign and Mark Sanford? One could go further, of course, but that sound you hear is the scraping of barrel-bottom.
It does not help the GOP in the pending cycle that – unlike their GOP counterparts – so few incumbent Democrats have announced their intent to resign rather than run again. If anything, those Dem seat-holders who have chosen to vacate have cast their eye on higher aspirations than simple retirement. Unseating incumbents is always a challenge, for either party, and there just aren’t many openings upon which the GOP can capitalize.
If the GOP hopes to mount a salvage mission to resurrect its own fast-fading relevance to and in a modern political world, it must first execute a search-and-find mission to seek out its own soul. Better use of technology is no substitute for articulated policies that entice the voters. Improved fund-raising techniques cannot elect a grossly inferior candidate, as they learned last time around. All the think tanks in the world cannot fashion a message acceptable to voters who find it discordant and off-putting. A country anxious to end its two current foreign military engagements cannot be seduced by the siren call of more war in some other third world hellhole, which neutralizes the GOP’s most time-worn cliches of bogeymen who need an ass-kicking.
The Taser of Wisdom has long since learned that the man/didate who stands for nothing will stand for anything. And we’ve already seen far too much of that in recent life.