Hopping to Crazyland

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conservatism, News Media, Republican Party

Call it Clash of the Titan Wingnuts. Pam Geller of Atlas Shrugged is accusing Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs of being an infiltrator, a neo-nazi, a fellow traveler of jihadists. Macranger calls CJ a “closet liberal” (ouch!).

Johnson actually said something sensible, which of course is beyond the pale for a wingnut. Commenting on a Politico piece called “Extremist rhetoric won’t rebuild GOP,” Johnson said,

This turn toward the extreme right on the part of Fox News is troubling, and will achieve nothing in the long run except further marginalization of the GOP—unless people start behaving like adults instead of angry kids throwing tantrums and ranting about conspiracies and revolution.

Based on blog reaction to Johnson, we needn’t be concerned that the Right will take Johnson’s advice.

I want to shift gears for a moment and look at some numbers — Nate Silver shows us that the GOP has lost considerable popularity in recent years. “[T]hose persons who continue to identify as Republicans are a hardened — and very conservative — lot. Just 24 percent of voters identified as Republican when Pew conducted this survey in March, which is roughly as low as that total has ever gotten,” says Nate.

If you go to Pollingreport.com you can find a page with “Dem versus GOP” approval ratings going back several years. There have been more Dems than Republicans all along, but since the 1970s the Dems took a big dive in party dominance. However, in very recent years they’ve been coming back.

A question asked sporadically by the ABC News/Washington Post poll, “Overall, which party — the Democrats or the Republicans — do you trust to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years?” shows the Dems consistently ahead going back to 1992, except for the years 2002 and 2003, when the GOP came way out on top. But by 2004 the Dems had the advantage again.

A Gallup question, “Looking ahead for the next few years, which political party do you think will do a better job of keeping the country prosperous: the Republican Party or the Democratic Party?” had the two parties evenly split, 42 to 42 percent, in 2002. But in 2007 the Dems were up, 54 to 34 percent.

So this movement in public opinion away from the GOP and toward the Dems isn’t something that just started this year. It appears it started in 2004. It just took awhile to become obvious even in mass news media.

At The New Republic, Chris Orr has an intriguing analysis of what’s happening on the Right. Essentially, the Right is already so marginalized its members have nothing else to do but compete with each other for position within the movement. And to do that they’re all trying to out-flank each other on the Right. So conservative politicians and media personalities are in a big potato sack race, hopping to Crazyland.

See also No More Mister Nice Blog.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. William Teach  •  Apr 8, 2009 @9:55 am

    Extremist rhetoric worked for the Democrats for 8 years, eh?

    But, yes, the leaders in the GOP need to provide some, and the way to do that is with ideas and plans, not 30 second soundbites and empty rhetoric, like that stimulus plan. People listen to folks like Boortz, Hannity, and Rush because they are entertainers, and offer details. Personally, I can’t stand folks like Mark Levin and especially Mark Savage. Too angry. Too much telling people what to do. Doesn’t go over well with most old-school Conservatives.

    But, hey, we can just act like y’all did. Nothing wrong with that, right?

  2. Bruce  •  Apr 8, 2009 @10:31 am

    Wow, for them to turn on LGF is amazing. Johnson led the whole charge against Dan Rather and fake memos in 2004, right? He put these morons on the map, fergawdsake! They should be erecting statues to him, not nooses..

    OK, yeah, I do love it..

  3. maha  •  Apr 8, 2009 @10:46 am

    “Extremist rhetoric worked for the Democrats for 8 years, eh?”

    And what rhetoric would that be, William? For the most part, the Dems have been spineless lapdogs for the past 8 years. Not nearly extremist enough, given what was going on. Sure the Left has its crazies, like the Truthers — Truther propaganda is banned from this site, btw — but the elected officials have been way too subdued. And I know y’all like to dump on Keith Olbermann, but what Olbermann says generally has a basis in fact.

  4. blogenfreude  •  Apr 8, 2009 @11:06 am

    I have said it before, and I’ll say it again – the GOP will soon be composed only of sociopaths, the home-schooled, and the clinically insane. It will be fun to watch them fly into bits.

  5. felicity  •  Apr 8, 2009 @11:10 am

    Speaking of Olbermann, last night he tore, and rightly so, into the O. administration for its apparent support of and wider-ranging spying on us. Which brings me to the Repub ranters who have been spouting the same rhetoric for so long that they’re just getting downright boring to listen to.

    i.e. against: amnesty for illegals, closing Gitmo, allowing import of prescription drugs, acknowledging climate change, fed funding for embryonic stem-cell reseach, international criminal courts, gun-show background checks, choice…So what are they for? tax cuts, drilling in Alaska and torture. Pretty hard to base a party’s legitimacy on three issues which at the moment are not at the forefront of our troubles.

  6. Fitter Happier  •  Apr 8, 2009 @12:14 pm

    So we’re looking at roughly 25% who still identify as Republicans. While it is not identical, it certainly is not a coincidence that roughly 25% of the US population identifies as evangelical Christian. And it was roughly 25% that were die-hard Bush supporters. I’m willing to bet a good portion of all three of these groups are the same people.

    25% of the US is insane. And yet the impression you get from the teevee (and I don’t just mean FOX either) is that these people make up for a far larger demographic– whereas in a lot of other developed countries, these bastards wouldn’t see the light of day– nutters ought not be taken seriously, and yet in the US, they are.

    I remember a time when crazies like Glenn Beck could only be heard at 2:00 am on some obscure AM radio station. Now this stuff is “mainstream” in the US. Pathetic.

  7. Liberal Percy  •  Apr 8, 2009 @12:41 pm

    The trouble is, the Crazy Right consists of most of the Crazy NRA gun nuts. They are truly scary.

    Faux Noise is pimping the ‘tyranny’ meme for these cuckoos. I expect to see a lot more crazy folks go off the deep end the longer they are allowed to spread their hate.

  8. joanr16  •  Apr 8, 2009 @12:57 pm

    [T]he Right is already so marginalized its members have nothing else to do but compete with each other for position within the movement.

    I’ll get the popcorn.

  9. felicity  •  Apr 8, 2009 @1:03 pm

    Fitter Happier – I think you’re right about that 25% AND perfectly sane, upstanding citizens hung ‘witches’ in colonial America.

  10. maha  •  Apr 8, 2009 @1:07 pm

    And yet the impression you get from the teevee (and I don’t just mean FOX either) is that these people make up for a far larger demographic– whereas in a lot of other developed countries, these bastards wouldn’t see the light of day– nutters ought not be taken seriously, and yet in the US, they are.

    That’s because they either own the media (Faux Nooz) or have somehow intimidated the media into submission.

  11. Dave S  •  Apr 8, 2009 @1:26 pm

    That’s because they either own the media (Faux Nooz) or have somehow intimidated the media into submission.
    It’s also because we’re a 2-party system, so if we give the MSM the benefit of a doubt and say they’re trying to cover both sides equally (snicker), with the other side totally dominated by crazies, that’s who we’re going to see an awful lot of on the tee vee machine.

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I miss Bob Dole.

  12. Fitter Happier  •  Apr 8, 2009 @1:42 pm

    I’m wondering though if there’s a more base reason: its merely about profit.

    Populist muckraking “outrage” crap sells, whereas information (which requires thinking, with various shades of grey) doesn’t sell. Its just about the lowest common intellectual denominator.

    Wanna make a quick buck? Feed people sound bites and put on some raving loon like Lou Dobbs– keep the news content low. Don’t bore people with investigative reporting– too much information, too much thinking, not exciting enough.

    Mainstream media outlets in the US are more concerned about their ratings (and therefore profits) than actually informing its fellow citizens. And as a result they lend credibility to these people and their ideas, whereas elsewhere, they’d be ignored or ostracised for their crazy ideas (as they should be). There are some xenophobic authoritarian types who are simply taking advantage of this anti-intellectualist atmosphere– they thrive in it.

    But these nutters don’t get any traction in other developed countries– this isn’t to say they don’t EXIST in other countries, but the way they handle it is totally different from the US. Why is that? I still haven’t completely sussed out the reason for these differences.

  13. moonbat  •  Apr 8, 2009 @3:34 pm

    Several thoughts:

    About thirty or more years ago, the people who owned the Republican party realized they’d never win without building a media infrastructure to reach what we now call the 25 %. This was accomplished so successfully, that their media and their politicians so dominate the airwaves that this 25 % demographic seems bigger than it really is.

    There are all kinds of tricks played with this the media, from simple to sophisticated, to keep this illusion going. I was listening to a clip of Rush Limbaugh the other day – something I rarely do – and I was struck at how his program now features a track of people cheering whenever he speaks, kind of like a laugh track used in sitcoms. Righties need to think they’re part of a strong tribe. It’s the same kind of nonsense Glen Beck (and Chuck Norris) spout when they say “We Surround Them”.

    Part of it is the attention span and focus of an overstimulated people. In the days when television was still new, and when the culture moved more slowly than it does today, tv news regularly featured in-depth examinations of various contemporary issues (along the lines of what you might find on PBS today); the news itself was able to present the day’s events to a significantly greater depth than the sound-byte reporting today. The networks actually had foreign bureaus and reporters scattered all over the world – this has been largely eliminated today as being too expensive.

    And so what news is presented today, is vapid. Simplistic explanations prevail, because they can fit into a sound-byte. Anything new or complicated doesn’t make it into television because it takes too long to explain. The demise of newspapers only feeds this phenomenon.

    And so the result is a mass media environment that mostly increases ignorance, it cannot effectively challenge it. It’s everything the Republican overlords from thirty years ago dreamed of and more.

  14. felicity  •  Apr 8, 2009 @4:31 pm

    Moonbat – the Repubs figured out years ago that all things political and/or religious are processed by the non-reasoning sides of our brains, and they’ve been capitalizing on it ever since. (I previously cited a study done a few years ago which verified this revolting fact.)

    Dems are literally going to have to ‘stoop to conquer’ to effectively combat the phenomenon. Not a pretty picture, but politics is an ugly business.

  15. uncledad  •  Apr 8, 2009 @5:54 pm

    “Mainstream media outlets in the US are more concerned about their ratings (and therefore profits) than actually informing its fellow citizens. And as a result they lend credibility to these people and their ideas, whereas elsewhere, they’d be ignored or ostracised for their crazy ideas (as they should be). ”

    Exactly!

  16. uncledad  •  Apr 8, 2009 @6:06 pm

    Maha,

    I can’t believe that Zionist kook Pam Gellar has gotten two mentions and a link from this fine blog in less than a week. She really should be committed to an institution for mental evaluation!

  17. bill bush  •  Apr 8, 2009 @7:24 pm

    I’d like to see a Venn diagram of the three groups Fitter Happier mentioned in a comment toward the top of this heap. I wonder if there is enough of a population outside the union of the sets to create some dissonance if you could just get them all into a room. Some of these people would be inclined to look askance at each other, I think.

  18. CabinInThe Woods  •  Apr 8, 2009 @8:43 pm

    Interesting article by Chris Hedges on AlterNet

    http://www.alternet.org/workplace/135414

    Snippet (emphasis added is mine):

    A furious and sustained backlash by a betrayed and angry populace, one unprepared intellectually and psychologically for collapse, will sweep aside the Democrats and most of the Republicans. A cabal of proto-fascist misfits, from Christian demagogues to simpletons like Sarah Palin to loudmouth talk show hosts, who we naively dismiss as buffoons, will find a following with promises of revenge and moral renewal. The elites, the ones with their Harvard Business School degrees and expensive vocabularies, will retreat into their sheltered enclaves of privilege and comfort. We will be left bereft and abandoned outside the gates.

  19. justme  •  Apr 10, 2009 @3:07 am

    Hey! You better cut it out with this kinda talk or the righties will fix you but good! They have weapons like tea parties and the 912 project! You better start quaking in your boots if you know what is good for you! Their leaders will keep telling their followers that they are doing the “right thing” in this “fight against socialism” and encourage them to “keep calling into to talk radio shows and trying to educate everyone they know” (yes, by all means! That will show us all on the left a thing or two! or you could just wear the GOP label on your forehead so we know how to avoid you) ….this is like a gallager(sp?) show…. just strap on a trash bag and wait for their heads all explode at the same time,all while trying not to get any on ya! Thats entertainment folks!….If they keep spewing like this just think of all the election funds the DNC could save…Now hush up and enjoy easter,,you know the time where the easter bunny brings Jesus back from the dead and delivers him to us in freedom baskets , along with colored eggs and assorted candy..!

  20. jpinsatx  •  Apr 17, 2009 @8:12 pm

    The Republican party is… out of touch! President Obama was elected by Independents, Reagan Democrats, Blue Dog Democrats, Republican in Name Only, Libertarians, etc. From my “Independent” perspective… the GOP stands for 1) De-Regulation of Business and 2) Regulation of Morality. The De-Regulation of Business removed consumer protections, rewarded job outsourcing and caused the economic collapse. Allowing Evangelical Christians to set the social agenda caused the “Separation of Church and State” divide over: school prayer, sex education, AIDS prevention, abortion rights, gay marriage, etc. Today the DEMS stand for working class jobs and common sense. Who knows, next election may be the opposite!



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