Skip to comments.The Culture War: Its Back! (Deranged Left Gets Even Kookier Alert)
Posted on 09/15/2008 9:54:33 AM PDT by goldstategop
Observing the Sarah Palin phenomenon, does anyone feel like they're trapped in a singularly creepy remake of "Night of the Living Dead"? George W. Bush has been a political corpse for years. But Palin resembles a female version of Bush, brought back from the grave to win the election.
You wouldn't think that the Republicans would want to exhume Bush. After all, his presidency has been a historic disaster, and the American people know it. But Bush was successful at one thing: winning elections. With its policies and ideology in ruins, Bush's political game plan is all that the GOP has left. And so McCain, who sold his soul to win, is following Bush's script -- with Sarah Palin playing the leading role once played by Bush.
Palin represents the reappearance of the one part of Bush that never died -- the culture warrior. Democrats may have forgotten about the notorious red state-blue state divide, or hoped that the failures of the last eight years had made it go away. But it hasn't. It's been there all along. If Palin catapults McCain to victory, it will be revealed to be the most powerful and enduring force in American politics. And that fact will raise serious questions about the viability of American democracy itself.
The culture war is driven by resentment, on the one hand, and crude identification, on the other. Resentment of "elites," "Washington insiders" and overeducated coastal snobs goes hand in hand with an unreflective, emotional identification with candidates who "are just like me." Large numbers of Americans voted for Bush because he seemed like a regular guy, someone you'd want to have a beer with. As Thomas Frank argued in "What's the Matter With Kansas," ideology also played a role. As hard-line "moral values" exponent and former GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer told the New York Times, "Joe Six-Pack doesn't understand why the world and his culture are changing and why he doesn't have a say in it." The GOP appealed to Joe Six-Pack by harping on cultural issues like the "three Gs," gods, guns and gays.
Bush played on culture war themes like a virtuoso. His folksy, macho persona connected with the GOP base and independent voters, his bland pre-election talk of reform and inclusion was reassuring, and his post-election Karl Rove-engineered strategy of nonstop flag-waving, demonizing opponents as traitors, and talking populism while handing the country over to deregulated predators, worked brilliantly. Bush was the great divider, masterfully playing on Americans' fear, resentment and patriotism. First Al Gore, then John Kerry were painted as out-of-touch elitists, mandarins and eggheads. It worked: Bush rode the red-state side of the culture wars to victory twice (with a little help from the Supreme Court the first time around).
It's terrifying that so many Americans are so driven by resentment that they will vote against more qualified candidates simply because they seem "different" from them. For what this means is that anyone with expertise, unusual intelligence, mastery, special knowledge, is likely to be rejected by voters who are resentful of "elites." This constitutes a rejection of the very idea that it matters if someone is better at something than someone else.
The peculiar thing is that this only applies to politics: Voters who would not dream of taking their car to an incompetent mechanic or their body to an unlicensed physician have no problem electing totally unqualified candidates to perform the most difficult and important job in the world, simply because they identify with them.
Resentment explains some of this. So does a widespread lack of respect for government itself, and ignorance about what it is and what it requires. Most insidious, perhaps, is the fact that more and more Americans seem to see politics as just another reality TV show. You vote for Palin the same way you vote for a designer on "Project Runway." As Katharine Mieszkowski reported for Salon, Palin's rapturous supporters embrace her because "she represents me." It's the politics of sheer narcissism.
This crudely personalized and debased approach to civic life has always been present, but it's getting stronger, and the Republicans are recklessly exacerbating it. Never mind that if they succeed in dumbing down the electorate and turning politics into the most superficial popularity contest, the country will suffer irreparable harm. Hey, we gotta win this election!
From the GOP's perspective, Palin has all of the virtues of Bush, and none of the drawbacks. She's a red state culture warrior. And in the new GOP gender con game, the fact that she's a woman automatically makes her a "maverick" and an "outsider."
Palin and her handlers have clearly decided that she must constantly invoke these magic words, despite the absence of any evidence that they actually apply to her. In her second interview with Charles Gibson, which was broadcast Friday night on ABC's "20/20," Palin responded to Gibson's skeptical comment that Bush also came to Washington talking about reform by saying, "We are mavericks" and "I am a Washington outsider."
How soon we forget that Bush, like Palin, like all Republican candidates, also avidly claimed to be "an outsider." As Jake Tapper reported for Salon in 2000, Bush put on his Outsider costume after McCain defeated him in the New Hampshire primary. "I was defined as the insider [in New Hampshire], and those days are over," Bush said. "I'm going to make it very clear to the voters of this state who Mr. Outsider is and who Mr. Insider is." In keeping with his new maverick image, Bush adopted the slogan "A Reformer With Results."
Not only is Palin a Bush rerun, she's a really bad one. Palin's performance in her interviews with Gibson, particularly the first foreign-policy-focused one, was shockingly awful. It's astonishing that McCain was cynical, reckless and contemptuous enough to actually put this grossly unprepared individual in a position to become president. But McCain has become a Rove-style Republican, so maybe it isn't astonishing after all. Quantcast
Palin didn't know what the Bush doctrine was. She robotically mouthed ancient Bush propaganda lines about the "war on terror." She casually said that we might go to war with Russia. She blandly handed over control of Iran policy to Israel, ignoring the fact that if Tel Aviv attacked Iran, U.S. troops located next door would almost certainly die as a result. She clumsily avoided answering any question for which she had not hastily memorized a stock answer. You could practically see her riffling through her mental cheat sheets.
Palin apparently still believes the ur-lie of the Bush administration, that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. On Sept. 11, she told troops shipping out to Iraq, including her eldest son Track, that they would "defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans."
It isn't surprising, therefore, that Palin appears to have no idea who America is actually fighting in Iraq. "The terrorists" attacked us because "they do not believe in American ideals," as she robotically told Gibson, channeling Bush's notorious "they hate our freedoms" line. It may be comforting for Palin and Bush to envision Osama bin Laden sitting in a cave cursing as he reads Thomas Jefferson, but it provides scant guidance for formulating effective Mideast policies.
But where Palin most closely, and disturbingly, resembles Bush is in her dogmatism, her mental rigidity. Like Bush and the GOP in general, she is determined to appear tough above all else. She follows Rove Rule No. 1: She stays on message, even if what she's saying is an obvious lie. The GOP programmers know that toughness sells. But Palin's supposed toughness reveals an utter lack of introspection, intellectual nuance or ability to depart from programmed ideas. Asked if she had worried she wasn't prepared to be president, Palin replied, "I I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink."
If what America wants is a more uninformed, more right-wing, equally macho version of Bush, Palin's the perfect choice.
Palin's second Gibson interview, focused on domestic issues, wasn't as revealing as the first. Unfortunately, Gibson failed to follow up on most of his questions, allowing Palin to get away with superficial accounts of her inquiries about banning books and other subjects. Palin mostly mouthed safe conservative bromides, and didn't make any errors as egregious as she did in the first interview. However, the interview did reveal another trait she shares with Bush: an inability to tell the truth. Her tortured attempt to claim that she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere, when in fact she supported it until it became a national embarrassment, was reminiscent of Bush's claims that he had never linked Saddam and 9/11.
Still more egregious was her bald-faced lie about her position on human responsibility for climate change. When Gibson said she seemed to be adopting a new position on the issue, she said, "I think you are a cynic, because show me where I have ever said that there's absolute proof that nothing that man has ever conducted or engaged in has had any effect, or no effect, on climate change."
In fact, Palin has repeatedly and explicitly denied that man is responsible for global warming. "I'm not an Al Gore, doom-and-gloom environmentalist blaming the changes in our climate on human activity," she told an Alaska newspaper in 2007.
Tilt! What played well with her green-hating, oil-worshipping, man-was-given-dominion-over-nature-by-God Alaska constituency contradicts McCain's position and doesn't work on the national stage, so she never said it. But if she lied, so what? Bush said "We do not torture" and "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." As that famous unnamed Bush official told Ron Suskind, the GOP isn't interested in the reality-based community: "That's not the way the world works now."
Palin's talk of being "on the side of the people" would be more convincing if didn't go around making inflammatory culture-war speeches in which she derides "community organizers" and Democrats. She and McCain are trying to come off like the populist hero George Bailey in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life," fighting fat cats and standing up for the little guy. But their actual beliefs and policies resemble not Bailey's but Mr. Potter's, the ultimate Republican fat cat, stern enemy of "do-gooders," champion of individual initiative and defender of the moral virtues of unfettered greed.
Will anyone notice that Palin is simply a debased female version of Bush? Will the fact that she is obviously unqualified to be president mean anything? Will voters be enraged that by picking Palin, McCain has turned American politics into a sitcom, a cheap farce? Or will the culture war still be a winner for the GOP?
It depends on whether eight disastrous years have revived the reality-based community -- or whether the same time-tested right-wing culture-war tactics will work even when the ideas and policies behind them have abjectly failed.
There are some hopeful signs to go along with the torrent of bad news for Democrats. A Newsweek poll that came out late Friday found that 22 percent of people say she makes them less likely to vote for McCain -- the highest percentage of a V.P. pick in recent history. Palin's dreadful performance in her Gibson interviews could be responsible for this. But it's too early to say.
So far, McCain has benefited from the fight that has erupted over Palin, because it is part of the culture war that is insidiously connected to a politics of emotional identification, narcissism and resentment. The Democrats always lose when the battle is fought on this terrain, the terrain of impulse and the id. If they can change the battleground to issues and reality, they can win.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
A 52-week high of $2.00 a share... BAHAHAHAAAHAAHAAAAAAA!!!!
Did you ever stop to think that maybe we bring up the culture war because we’re conservative?
Not that I think mores are the concern of politicians, but since they won’t talk about balancing the budget or the fallacy of man-made global warming, they might as well talk about cultural decay.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
“You vote for Palin the same way you vote for a designer on ‘Project Runway.’ As Katharine Mieszkowski reported for Salon, Palin’s rapturous supporters embrace her because ‘she represents me.’ It’s the politics of sheer narcissism.”
What an odd choice of words “represents” is. Taken literally, I cannot think of anything wrong with voting for someone who represents you. After all, we live in a representative democracy.
Do they have editors over at Salon?
Gotta love lib’s arrogance. We’re stupid bumpkins because we love Palin and not those who are more intelligent than us. LMAO.
Let me see: the Republican Party is the party of “emotional identification, narcissism, and resentment”? What has Obama’s campaign been if not those exact things? Kamiya is a typical example of leftist scribblers who accuse Republicans of lying without giving a concrete example. Palin ditched the “bridge to nohwere” when it became unpopular? Where does he show this proof along with the other things he accuse Palin (and Bush) of lying about?
Currently at $1.10 with no volume. This from a high of almomst $12 in 2005 and a spike of $10 in 2006.
Bet they just don’t understand why, either. Or they JBB (Just Blame Bush). ROTFLMAO!
It is funny that they keep spouting that she lied. Show me one lie she has told... But in the article full of BDS it is amazing that this BEOTCH doesn’t mention that President Bush was a Uniter after 9/11 and the Dems didn’t even let the dust settle on the WTC before they attacked Bush.. As being a scared little boy in the face of the attacks..It was not Bush that divided it was the Democrat Party that has divided and Demonized My President... We are winning in Iraq, and when Palin said they will be fighting the people that attacked us, she was speaking of Al-queda. Not the Iraqi people... This so called Journalist I say that with reservation is so beyond help I dont think Sigmund Frued could help her... Its time these libtard journos get the picture keep up the good work and help sweep the next president into office. JOHN S MCCAIN!
“Bush. After all, his presidency has been a historic disaster, and the American people know it. But Bush was successful at one thing: winning elections. With its policies and ideology in ruins, Bush’s political game plan is all that the GOP has left. And so McCain, who sold his soul to win, is following Bush’s script — with Sarah Palin playing the leading role once played by Bush”
‘historic disaster’ ? WRONG
‘the American people know it’ you need a larger circle of real friends
‘in ruins’ ? Wrong what would be the indicators of said ‘ruins’
‘sols his soul to win’ ? not observably
These folks have to create their own reality in order to feel good. Isn’t there a pathology there?
[”It’s terrifying that so many Americans are so driven by resentment that they will vote against more qualified candidates simply because they seem “different” from them.”]
Implication: People who intend to vote against Obama are racists.
[”For what this means is that anyone with expertise, unusual intelligence, mastery, special knowledge, is likely to be rejected by voters who are resentful of “elites.””]
Implication: People who are blind to the “fact” that Obama has expertise and unusual intelligence are this way because they “envy excellence” . They are the same people who denied Al Gore his shot at “greatness” because they didn’t believe that he invented the internet.These Gore and Obama haters are the same ignorant mob who think that the Apollo astronauts really landed on the moon, or that Al Qaeda brought down the Twin Towers.
[”The culture war is driven by resentment, on the one hand, and crude identification, on the other.” ]
Implication: It was the conservatives who started the culture wars because they oppose the left’s attempts to tear down the American institutions of education, marriage, and freedom. Press the Democrats on this and they’ll have to admit that they think the U.S. started World War II because we reacted “violently” to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
She is not a go along to get along Bush retread. If she were I would be all over her too. She is imbued with the spirit of Regan, facing a few key issues squarely, heading into the storm with a firm hand on the rudder, which is what we very much need right now.
“Resentment of “elites,” “Washington insiders” and overeducated coastal snobs “
I would call them overindoctrinated Marxists who seem to have missed history class the day they taught how Marxism failed every time it has been tried.
AIs it inbreading or drugs that enables this Orwellian use of language that it is narcissism when a democratically elected representative is expected to represent the people that s/he represents. Your brain cells have to live simultaneously in multiple parallel universes to keep up this kind of schizophrenia. It is an if a then not a logical fallacy, the kind of genetic coding error that is eliminated by natural selection because you cannot survive - don't run because what looks like a lion and roars like a lion is really a lawsuit bearing John Edwards in sheep's clothing kind of argument.
Narcism is men wearing thousands of dollars of gear before working up a sweat on a bike. In fact real narcisists don't work up a sweat. Or tying up air traffic in SOCAL while you get an expensive haircut... or, or, or..
"First Al Gore, then John Kerry were painted as out-of-touch elitists, mandarins and eggheads. "
No, they are out-of-touch eggheads.
One parallel I see from the left...
They claim that THEY aren’t fighting any “culture war”, and don’t know what we’re fighting one for either.
The greatest lie ever told, by the Father of Lies - “I don’t exist”.
So... if I don’t want to see the Constitution replaced by other, more “progressive” ideas, and if I want limited government reflecting the attitudes and values of the people of the country... I’m “resentful.” What marvelous psychobabble. I apparently don’t know what’s good for me, so I’m like my 2-year-old who turns his head aside when being served brocolli. Since I have a developed sense of right and wrong, I’m “rigid.” When I correctly point out academics and the media appear to have values and attitudes which are not reflected by the people as a whole, I’m wrong to consider them “elites.”
And these guys wonder why they’re the objects of scorn.
Yeah, “How dare Quayle talk about single mothers in the media when there’re zealous teachers trying to erase Darwin from students’ brains?”
You think Al Gore was smart because you agreed with him. You think John Kerry was smart because you agreed with him. You think Obama is a genius because you agree with him (although it’s not hard to agree with the word “change”).
We think all of the above, be they as intelligent as the next Senator, were wrong. othing else mattered.
othing else mattered = Nothing else mattered
The writer is mistaken in thinking the culture war is driven by resentment, as if it is something conservatives do to liberals. It is driven by perversion, moral relativism, multiculturalism, abortion, and the wacky left-wing ideology. Liberalism is resentment directed at Western Christian civilization and normal Americans. Members of the cultural elite are out of touch and that was reflected in Obama’s comments about “bitter” people “clinging to guns and religion.” This just rehashes Obama’s point of view.
It was our culture first; it’s only fair that they give it back intact.
Libs are just going apeshit right about now. Kinda sucks to be them. Hehe.
We are resentlful of Gore because he is an "elite" despite his "expertise, unusual intelligence, mastery, and special knowledge".
Instead we focus on irrelevant cultural issues, like the Democrat's intention of disarming the American people.
I am at least comforted by the fact that most Democrats still don't get it.
Exactly. To paraphrase Reagan, they left us, we didn't leave them.
If JFK were alive and running for office today, he'd easily be ranked farther to the right than McCain.
Well, when one is filled with hatred, and the object of that animosity begins to fade from view, all that pent up anger has to go somewhere. Look around and find another object to vilify!
So, I am afraid that Sarah will be getting the same treatment that GWB has gotten. I just hope she’s up to it. She’s certainly had a baptism of fire!
Many of the 'rat cranks like this author are clinically disturbed. Their rage is unabated by the passage of time-- beyond the reach of the normal self-corrective mechanisms of a healthy mind, but rather a growing seething malignancy. This is why I expect violence from the Left wing sometime during or after this election cycle. People like this are at risk for losing control.