Tuesday, November 10, 2009
If you've read this site long enough, you probably know that it hasn't always been this way.
I used to put a very high value on my ability to evaluate each issue on its own merits. Although I often tend to be center-left in my politics -- rarely if ever going the extreme liberal route -- I spent many years frequently siding with the right on a whole host of topics. I'm all for being strong on defense; I could care less about the political correctness that was a ridiculous liberal cause celebre for quite some time; I don't believe capitalism to be inherently evil; I want to see the poor and helpless in this country treated with dignity and everyone afforded good health care, but I think it requires a more efficient and vigilant government -- not a big one willing to just throw money around; I think that paying extra attention to certain ethnicities at airports is a natural concession to reality in this day and age and amounts to basic police work; I hate hippies; I can occasionally be as jingoistic as your average Toby Keith fan and freely admit that right after 9/11, I too had the knee-jerk reaction that wanted to see us annihilate a random city in the Middle East, just as an object lesson; I pretty much laughed out loud when those Navy snipers took out the Somali pirates who held an American captain hostage back in April.
Yes, sometimes I'm the first one to get all "America, fuck yeah."
For months and months on this site, I skewered Democrats in much the same way I skewered Republicans, believing that working backward in any argument to make the "facts" fit a predetermined point-of-view -- no matter that point-of-view -- was the most intellectually dishonest thing imaginable. I still think that I'm capable of sticking to that ideal, because if I don't, then my already somewhat inconsequential opinions are rendered utterly worthless since they're the product of nothing more than partisan prejudices.
But lately it's no secret that I have actually been more outraged by the actions of the right as a whole than those of the left. And I think the reason for that can be summed up in one simple question that may seem trite but which kind of needs to be asked: When did the primary voices of the American right become so shockingly dumb -- so shamelessly willing to jettison every last vestige of rational thought? True, during the Bush years stupid seemed to reign -- but the reality was always that those at the top were very smart people using very gullible people as stage props to further their agenda. I also get that this still happens regularly -- on both ends of the political spectrum.
But something has changed recently; maybe it started with the introduction of Sarah Palin to an already toxic mixture of paranoia and ignorance coming to a boil within certain segments of the population. Either way, over the last year it seems as if all logic and reason within the Republican party and its champions on talk radio and Fox News has gone completely out the window. It's like these people have lost their fucking minds. I'm not simply talking about their tendency to embrace and perpetuate half-baked conspiracy theories of the most mind-bogglingly outlandish variety; I mean their lack of shame at making arguments that not only don't hold up within the context of an extended timeline -- the kind of bewildering shit that can easily be proven hypocritical by comparing it to their comments of just one year ago -- but make no sense at face value.
Last night on Fox News, Sean "I Can Put You Into a Car Regardless of Your Credit History" Hannity made a comment and an implication so inflammatory and absurd that it's shocking his brain didn't rip the top of his head open to get some air. He pondered, "What does (it) say about Barack Obama and our government," that apparently the U.S. military knew that Major Nidal Nasan had contacted al Qaeda and was a growing threat yet did nothing to stop him? In other words, Hannity tried to link the fact that the military may have dropped the ball in devastating fashion on the Fort Hood shooting to the fact that Barack Obama is in the White House.
Do I need to remind you -- since reminding an obviously thick-headed ideologue like Hannity wouldn't do a damn bit of good -- that in the months leading up to 9/11, there were intelligence failures left and right within the CIA, the FBI and the Bush administration, including one in which Bush himself seemed to flat-out ignore the warnings of an intelligence report that all but spelled out the coming attack? I'm not saying that governmental agencies shouldn't be held responsible for their failures when a national tragedy happens that could have been prevented by them; I'm saying that you can't keep a straight face and castigate one president of the United States for an avoidable catastrophe that happened on his watch after singing the praises of another who was much closer to the fuck-ups that led to the avoidable catastrophe that happened on his. Well, you can't keep a straight face unless you're either a modern right-wing pundit or the lead character from Memento.
This is just another example of the kind of bald-faced, completely-detached-from-reality hypocrisy that the people who've hijacked the Republican party have trafficked in now for months into years -- the same people who spent almost eight years ranting and raving about how criticizing the president during a time of war amounted to treason, but who now conveniently add the caveat "Unless that President is Barack Obama -- That's Alright."
Crackpot conspiracy theories, circular reasoning, selective memory, insane arguments that go nowhere, the complete abandonment of logic and reason, the canonization of the craziest and most farcical among its lunatic fringe -- this is why it's become impossible to defend the GOP these days. It's gotten so bad that even taking an occasional stand for the ideals of conservatism, some of which I happen to agree with, makes me feel like I need a shower -- because those who are supposed to be advancing these ideals have instead allowed their party to meltdown from the inside out.
It's almost impossible to imagine that conservatism was once the domain of unapologetic intellectuals like William F. Buckley.
Now look at it -- it's the soapbox from which Michele Bachmann shouts gibberish.
Who with a brain wants to in any way be associated with that?