"President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob."
"Not all folks are gifted the same way. Some people have incredible gifts with their hands. There are good, decent men and women who work hard every day and put their skills to the test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor... That’s why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image. I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his."
"I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely. The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country."
"We have some real problems at our college campuses with political correctness, with an ideology that is forced upon people who, you know, who may not agree with the politically correct left doctrine. And one of the things that I’ve spoken out on and will continue to speak out is to make sure that conservative and more mainstream, common-sense conservative and principles that have made this country great are reflected in our college courses and with college professors. And at many, many, and I would argue most institutions in this country, that simply isn’t the case."
"62% of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it."
All of this was said by Rick Santorum over a weekend which saw the Republican party's highest-profile lunatic zealot -- at least currently -- going off the rails in a way he never has before (and that's really saying something). Never mind the ongoing -- though possibly most blatant yet -- demonization of intellectualism. Never mind how irresponsible that kind of rhetoric is at a time when the rest of the world is, as the Washington Post points out, "churning out engineers and scientists at a faster and faster rate." Never mind that Santorum's statistics on faith and a college education were apparently pulled out of his ass, as was another reference he made this weekend to a speech on religion and politics, supposedly from JFK, that never actually happened. Also never mind the overall admission that once a person becomes intellectually enlightened, he or she generally abandons ridiculous religious superstition and ass-backward conservative politics -- that a keen and educated mind is naturally antithetical to a right-wing viewpoint.
No, what's important is what all of this kind of public saber-rattling adds up to and underscores. It expresses the sheer terror coming from the right these days that, as I've said quite a bit recently here and on the podcast, its current political model is dying. What we're witnessing are the ugly death spasms of the incarnation of conservatism that's existed for decades.
Lo and behold, Jonathan Chait spells it out almost exactly as Bob and I have -- albeit more eloquently -- in a new piece for New York Magazine:
"The Republican Party is in the grips of many fever dreams. But this is not one of them. To be sure, the apocalyptic ideological analysis—that 'freedom' is incompatible with Clinton-era tax rates and Massachusetts-style health care—is pure crazy. But the panicked strategic analysis, and the sense of urgency it gives rise to, is actually quite sound. The modern GOP—the party of Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes—is staring down its own demographic extinction. Right-wing warnings of impending tyranny express, in hyperbolic form, well-grounded dread: that conservative America will soon come to be dominated, in a semi-permanent fashion, by an ascendant Democratic coalition hostile to its outlook and interests. And this impending doom has colored the party’s frantic, fearful response to the Obama presidency...
Today, cosmopolitan liberals may still feel like an embattled sect—they certainly describe their political fights in those terms—but time has transformed their rump minority into a collective majority. As conservative strategists will tell you, there are now more of 'them' than 'us.' What’s more, the disparity will continue to grow indefinitely. Obama actually lost the over-45-year-old vote in 2008, gaining his entire victory margin from younger voters—more racially diverse, better educated, less religious, and more socially and economically liberal. Portents of this future were surely rendered all the more vivid by the startling reality that the man presiding over the new majority just happened to be, himself, young, urban, hip, and black. When jubilant supporters of Obama gathered in Grant Park on Election Night in 2008, Republicans saw a glimpse of their own political mortality. And a galvanizing picture of just what their new rulers would look like."
Santorum's insane rants are exactly what they sound like: a desperate call to arms for a fading way of thinking. In one weekend, he summed up perfectly what the Republicans have been about for years -- and displayed in unequivocal terms why their time is up.
Their audience is simply disappearing.