Monday, September 14, 2009

Obama and Republicans

My support for Obama in the general election, from a policy point of view, was more about a rejection of the direction of the GOP than an embrace of Obama's policy ideas. Ultimately I've always considered myself a member of some entity that exists apparently only in my imagination, a moderate republican party. I was hoping that the GOP defeat in 2008 would give the Republicans some much needed time to rethink their policy, restructure their organization, and come back stronger the next time.

The reality is that the GOP has descended deeper in a spiral of madness. The fringe extremists that were held in check by the seemingly moderate in retrospect George W. Bush have now all but taken control of the party. My disgust with the Democratic leadership in congress, and their inability to accomplish anything, and disappointment with Obama's executive record thus far, is far overshadowed by my revulsion of everything about the GOP today. I voted for Obama in 2008 in large part to accomplish a more central objective: destroy the GOP as it had developed under George W. Bush. That goal has yet to be accomplished, and will continue to be my main motivation for as long as it takes.

From the New Yorker, with my favorite bit being highlighted with bold text:

Perhaps it was naïve, and obviously it was optimistic, to hope that once Obama—having been elected by a large and undisputed majority, unlike his two predecessors—took office the nastiness of the assault against him would subside. And so it did, briefly. But as the reality sank in that this temperamentally conservative President intends to make good on his substantively progressive promises, the fury returned, uglier than before and no longer subject to the minimal restraints inherent in a national electoral campaign aimed at persuading a plurality of voters. Lies and fantasies about health-care reform swirled together with lies and fantasies about the chief executive himself. Obama is plotting to set up “death panels,” government tribunals authorized to euthanize the old and sick. Obama was born in Kenya and therefore his very Presidency is unconstitutional. Obama will cut Medicare benefits to provide coverage to illegal aliens. Obama seeks to indoctrinate children in Marxist ideology and put teenagers in “reëducation camps.” Obama is a Communist. Obama is a Fascist.

This sort of lunatic paranoia—touched with populism, nativism, racism, and anti-intellectualism—has long been a feature of the fringe, especially during times of economic bewilderment. What is different now is the evolution of a new political organism, with paranoia as its animating principle. The town-meeting shouters may be the organism’s hands and feet, but its heart—also, Heaven help us, its brain—is a “conservative” media alliance built around talk radio and cable television, especially Fox News. The protesters do not look to politicians for leadership. They look to niche media figures like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, and their scores of clones behind local and national microphones. Because these figures have no responsibilities, they cannot disappoint. Their sneers may be false and hateful—they all routinely liken the President and the “Democrat Party” to murderous totalitarians—but they are employed by large, nominally respectable corporations and supported by national advertisers, lending them a considerable measure of institutional prestige.

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