A Famous Pundit said:
Have you noticed that we’ve moved from the age of the culture wars to the age of the presidency wars? Have you noticed that the furious arguments we used to have about cultural and social issues have been displaced by furious arguments about the current occupant of the Oval Office?
It’s obvious that, for the Right, the health care debate is not about the health care debate. It is about the eternal Zoroastrian struggle between Good and Evil.
The Right’s new pop culture hero is William Rice, who yesterday lost part of a finger to the Cause. The takeaway line from an interview with Neil Cavuto was “freedom is not free.”
And there is no free lunch, all roads lead to Rome, and the the first rule of Fight Club is–you do not talk about Fight Club. These are all equally rational explanations of why Rice was compelled to throw two punches at another man who allegedly called him an “idiot.”
Rice continued, “I think health care is how we are being diverted while the government grabs what’s left of our freedom away from us.” This was a few hours after Rice relied on Medicare for treatment of his injured hand because, he admits, he had no other options.
Meanwhile, the President of the United States announces he will give America’s schoolchildren a back-to-school pep talk about the importance of doing well in school, and the Right goes bat-bleeping postal and screams about “indoctrination.” School districts in six states are refusing to show the message. Joan Walsh reports, “Crazy Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin are raging against ‘indoctrination’ while Townhall’s Meredith Jessup is calling it ‘a massive abuse of government power.'”
Presidents have made similar addresses to schoolchildren in the past, notably Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Walsh also reminds us that in one of his speeches George W. Bush called on the nation’s children to help him win the war on terror, and no one complained about that. But when President Obama wants to tell children to do well in school, it’s “indoctrination” and “a massive abuse of government power.”
And you have to ask, in what universe would that be true? And the answer is, a universe in which the POTUS was not legitimately elected, but instead was installed in the White House by means of a coup d’Ã©tat backed by evil foreign powers. Thus, William Rice actually fancies himself to be some kind of freedom fighter for trying to block health care reform.
And, yes, racism is a component in this, but I don’t think it’s the only component. A President Hillary Clinton would be getting equally hysterical pushback every time she so much as brushed her teeth. A white male Democratic president would be getting the Bill Clinton treatment. In this case, however, the President’s race makes the manipulators’ job a bit easier.
Famous Pundit continues,
The fundamental argument in the presidency wars is not that the president is wrong, or is driven by a misguided ideology. … The fundamental argument now is that he is illegitimate. He is so ruthless, dishonest and corrupt, he undermines the very rules of civilized society.
To the warrior, politics is no longer a clash of value systems, each of which is in some way valid. It’s not a competition between basically well-intentioned people who see the world differently. …
The warriors have one other feature: ignorance. They have as much firsthand knowledge of their enemies as members of the K.K.K. had of the N.A.A.C.P. In fact, most people in the last two administrations were well-intentioned patriots doing the best they could. The core threat to democracy is not in the White House, it’s the haters themselves.
Famous Pundit, btw, is our old friend David Brooks, from 2003. He was reacting to a piece by Jonathan Chait in the New Republic called “The Case For Bush Hatred: Mad About You.” Here is the rhetoric Brooks singled out as the “core threat to democracy”:
“I hate President George W. Bush,” Jonathan Chait writes in a candid piece in The New Republic. “He reminds me of a certain type I knew in high school ? the kid who was given a fancy sports car for his sixteenth birthday and believed that he had somehow earned it. I hate the way he walks. . . . I hate the way he talks. . . . I suspect that, if I got to know him personally, I would hate him even more.”
If you read Chait’s piece, it’s actually a fairly balanced acknowledgment that some on the Left were allowing hatred of Bush to override their judgment. But he went on to express, candidly and reasonably accurately, what Bush and the Bush Administration represented to us lefties in 2003.
However, at no point did Chait call for taking action to make the Bush Administration fail. Merely expressing hatred of Dear Leader was a “core threat to democracy.”
Frankly, I don’t give a bleep if William Rice or Neil Cavuto or Michelle Malkin or anyone else hates Barack Obama, for whatever reason. If that’s how they feel, that’s how they feel. And I don’t mind if they write nationally published columns saying how much they hate Barack Obama. It’s called “free speech.” Democracy has taken bigger blows and survived.
However, today a large number of media and political elites are sending big, honking signals to the William Rice’s of America that the President of the United States is an enemy of the nation who must be stopped by any means necessary. This is a real core threat to democracy.
Yes, we’ve always had paranoid whackjobs in America. Joe McCarthy made his name in history for shamelessly fanning the flames of paranoia and then exploiting them to further his political career. And for a time part of the Republican Party, including people who must have realized he was seriously unglued, supported McCarthy.
During the 1952 presidential campaign McCarthy issued a blistering attack on Gen. George Marshall, saying Marshall was â€œpart of a conspiracy so immense, an infamy so black, as to dwarf any in the history of man.â€ McCarthy’s power was such that Dwight Eisenhower’s campaign managers compelled him to strike a paragraph from a speech that defended Marshall, because standing up to McCarthy might cost Eisenhower the election. Eisenhower genuinely hated McCarthy and regretted the deletion of the paragraph for the rest of his life.
But McCarthy’s reign of terror was short-lived, and in the decades after, McCarthyism came to be seen as a moment of insanity from which the nation recovered.
But today the entire leadership of the Right — congresspersons and senators, spokespeople, the Republican Party, media personalities — have become an army of Joe McCarthys. And no one stands up to them.
Joan Walsh continues,
And lest you dismiss these rantings as confined to the lunatic fringe and ratings-crazed talk-show hosts, the backlash has had an effect. First, after school administrators in mostly red states expressed concerns about exposing kids to the speech without knowing what’s in it, the president’s office said he’d make it available on Monday so they can read it in advance. OK, that’s nice of the president, but is anybody else a little rattled that some right-wing bullies appointed the nation’s unelected school administrators to vet our president’s speech?
We should be rattled, yes. The extend to which the nation accepts this bullying as normal is a core threat to democracy.