Old thoughts (26 October 2008):
A McCain defeat is likely to be paired with significant defeats downstream from the Presidential race. This would portend a period of bloodletting within the Republican Party and among conservatives more generally. Since Republican Party partisans have been prone to high levels of symbolic violence directed at Democrats (and supporters of Democrats), this propensity to demonize the Other will likely be turned inward. This seems to have begun already (see the leaks coming from the McCain and Palin camps). On a more general level, it seems that an open war is breaking out between evangelicals and nativists, who have been the shock troops of Republican success since 1980, and the conservative “intelligentsia” (op-ed writers and professional political strategists) over both the content and tenor of Republican/Conservative politics. Not only may evangelicals be closed out of power in the Congress and Executive branch, but they have not yet reaped any concrete benefits of 28 years of loyalty to the Republican brand: Roe v. Wade hasn’t been overturned, no “right to life” amendment has been ratified, and the latest threat to humankind, “gay marriage,” has become more acceptable to the public. Nativists are also unhappy as the issue of “illegals” has not been a campaign theme for McCain (who once upon a time championed a form of immigration reform that boiled the blood of the vigilantes patrolling America’s southern border). The conservative intelligentsia is weary of the narrow-mindedness and anti-intelletualism of the Republican Party base: it realizes that Republicans will become a permanent minority party if they continue to cater to the exclusionary preferences of this base. This split could materialize in struggles over the soul of the party waged by Huckabee and Palin (on the one side), and Romney, Jindal, and Ridge (on the other side). Forward thinking Republicans will be more welcoming to people like Bloomberg and Weld as candidates and policy-makers; backward looking Republicans will continue to take marching orders from Limbaugh, Hannity, and the God Squad (Dobson and Perkins).
Enter the Tea Party in 2009.
New thoughts on the controversy over the label “progressive” and the Clinton and Sanders campaigns:
An analogous situation arose in 2008. Republicans questioned Mr Obama’s “character” by raising his “association” with Bill Ayers (“paling around with terrorists”) and his membership in the church of the firebrand Reverend Wright. In the end, the strategy of character assassination failed. In the present circumstances, Mr Sanders would do better to stick to substance (differences in policy).
The search for ideological purity is why the Republicans are a risible circus today. Mr Sanders should be wary of taking the Democratic Party (of which he’s never been a member) down this road to political perdition. It will only end in tears.
Dictators always hold themselves above any law. Russia’s Eternal President is no different. Only extreme cowardice prevents the UK from charging him with murder.
Seumas Milne may be the last Stalinist left on the planet.
Ms Palin and Mr Trump are part of the laugh track of our lives: huge hair, diabolical diction, strangled syntax, and paleolithic politics.
It’s time for Joe the Plumber to come out from under the sink.
I think the GOP Establishment is resigned to sitting out this election. The pitchforks have taken control of the narrative.
Apropos Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump, an old post from October 201o.
She’s mastered the new political medium created by 24/7 cable news, blogs, etc., an over-caffeinated world in which half-truths, spin, winking falsehoods, and simmering status resentment constitute a fair and balanced communicative style. She is a celebrity, hence her life, her private life, is as much a part of her political brand as her policy positions and accomplishments in Alaska. Her propensity to respond to what appear to be trivial snipes, things ordinary politicians would ordinarily ignore, is a continuation of the persona that was presented in 2008: hockey mom, political maverick, and all-around western tough gal. She’s anything but an ordinary politician. Her legend is enhanced by (1) the fact that she’s a ‘target’ and (2) that she responds in kind (she’s no weak-kneed libral). In the play book of contemporary Republican politics, if you’re a target of ridicule in the mythical MSM, you are part of the real America, you are an authentic conservative (not one of those country club types who speak in sonorous tones — and in complete sentences — on the floor of the Senate), and you are a promising presidential candidate. I can easily imagine a Republican fantasy ticket of Palin/Prejean in 2012.
Andre Agassi’s tag line in the Canon ads “Image is everything” fits the new political reality. I think, at this point, Palin is famous for being famous and not much else. It is an open question of whether this “category” can sustain a presidential candidacy through the Republican primaries and debates. It appeared to me that the candidacy of Fred Thompson, which flamed out because he seemed to lack energy and interest in politics, was premised on being famous (a star of the big and small screens). Palin doesn’t lack energy or a willingness to joust. It might come down to the question of which candidate is more likely to keep Republican primary voters awake during twenty two-hour debates: Romney, Pawlenty, or Palin? I’m betting on the former Alaska Governor.
Outside of ultra-conservative chavs (who are not a majority among Republican voters . . . unless the birthers movement takes off unexpectedly), I don’t see much support for Palin, going forward, in the Republican Party. She’s anti-pork, so she would cut off the flow of milk to Alaska from the federal government teat. Could she even carry Alaska in a general election? She has a better chance of making a boatload of money using the media to bash the media, one of those performative contradictions that have marked her public persona since last August: she opposes the “politics of personal destruction” yet seeks to destroy her liberal opponents in a silly slurry of anti-American accusations; she’s a fighter who nonetheless quits; a hockey mom who fancies Neiman Marcus; a mama Grizzly bear who protects her cubs, yet exposes them — using them as political props — to the harsh glare of the media; a family values candidate who publicly trashes the father of her grandchild; an avatar of abstinence, who allows non-same sex sleepovers under her own roof.
There’s no tradition of intentional right-wing comedy. Ms Palin’s handlers could have told her that.
There is a long tradition of unintentional right-wing comedy.
I was offended by her use of Feyface.
My mother told me to never trust an anarchist.
Never mix books with framed photos.
“Rush to Kill” is the state motto of Georgia.
To channel Sarah Palin: the Republican Party was in the Pope’s spiritual crosshairs.
The bit on cocaine, meth, and Whitney Houston shows there is hope for Mr Noah’s Daily Show.
Carly Fiorina endorses water-boarding. Of course she does.
As news meanders across the political media universe that Jeb Bush’s email dump revealed sensitive personal information about 12,000 people, raising the spectre of another incompetent Bush in the White House, one wonders how he would be able to navigate a successful primary run for the Republican nomination. The Republican Party is not a single entity but rather an unappetizing ragout of functionally incompatible factions:
1. A tiny rump of reasonably rational Republicans, the so-called Establishment which caters to Wall Street and maintains a respectable 10 handicap.
2. A Tea Party faction that is the driving force in Republican political psychology. The Tea Party has several wings:
(a) a wacky libertarian wing (e.g., Rand Paul) comprised of Isolationists, Anti-Vaxxers, the Gun Lobby, and Gold Bugs.
(b) a social conservative, religious wing (Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin) that is
obsessed about addicted to talking about gay sex.
(c) a bandit wing (e.g., Cliven Bundy, paranoid militias and survivalists living in fortified bunkers, White Supremacists in Idaho) that is ready to engage in the violent overthrow of the US government.
(d) a classic poujadist wing comprised of people who want free services from government but don’t want to pay taxes.
3. A “Bomb Iran” caucus (e.g., John McCain and Lindsay Graham), which sometimes overlaps with the “Bomb Moscow, But Make Putin Our Presidential Nominee First” caucus (e.g., John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Franklin Graham, Steven Seagal, etc.), and the “Bomb Everyone We Dislike to Show We’re Manly Men” caucus (e.g., John McCain and Lindsay Graham).
2016 may not be the year for another RINO, which is the tag of death for a moderate Republican like Mr Bush.
LA without cars is like lungs without oxygen.
Sarah Palin isn’t running for President. She’s extending the expiration date of her Palinoconservative brand another two years.
In the age of hysterical intersectionality, one (e.g. Benedict Cumberbatch) cannot use the words “colored people” without participating in grave sin. One can use “people of color” (from the old Gens de couleur) and “women of color,” but never Homme de couleur.
Loretta Lynch’s use of the word “reasonable” during her Senate confirmation hearing sent Tea Party Republicans scrambling for their dictionaries.