Friday, November 30, 2007

Outside the Village

-- by Dave

You've gotta laugh at the latest whining from Michelle Malkin & Co. about the Republican "YouTube" debate of Wednesday night. Seems that the questioners weren't sufficiently conservative enough for the Loyalty Police of the Assholosphere -- as though the questioners' support for other candidates makes them not real enough Americans (i.e., not Kool-Aid swilling conservatives) to have earned the privilege.

As Jane Hamsher adroitly observes:
When the Democratic YouTube debates were broadcast, we were delighted by the fact that candidates were being asked honest and tough questions by real people, including right wing gun nuts. Nobody complained, we were happy that the questions weren’t being asked by media hogs who had their own agenda (see Russert, Tim). The fact that the Republicans could not stand up to that kind of discussion, which did not take place within their hermetically sealed world view, was something people predicted at the time. Last night’s embarrassment came not because of liberal questions, but rather because the GOP has an exceptionally poor lineup pandering to an extreme, delusional minority.

This is an important point. Republican presidential candidates have, for the past six years, been operating almost completely inside a bubble -- creating campaign appearances that have been almost completely insulated from anything resembling the real world. It's helped, of course, that during that time the GOP has had only a single candidate -- George W. Bush -- which has made the job that much simpler.

Essentially, it's been a simple process: Shut out anyone who might raise any "controversial" (i.e., "dissenting") voices, pack the audience with True Believers, and foster the illusion of broad and fervent support.

What's been most remarkable is the way this strategy has exploited the innate authoritarianism of the right wing's voting base -- that is, the people who openly welcome simply shutting out any kind of dissent because it's insufficiently respectful:
Though it showed up throughout his first term, especially in the form of "First Amendment Zones," [the authoritarianism] really manifested itself during the 2004 campaign, when it became routine for the Bush campaign to exclude, often with a real viciousness, anyone deemed a non-supporter. The nadir of this behavior came when some schoolteachers in Oregon wearing T-shirts proclaiming "Protect Our Civil Liberties" were unceremoniously removed and threatened with arrest. For that matter, even soldiers returned from Iraq were prevented from entering if they were deemed insufficiently supportive. Towards the end, there was the bizarre phenomenon of the "Bush Pledge", which Billmon acutely described as "truly sinister."

Rather than ending with the election, this behavior has seemingly only escalated since. The most noteworthy example was the incident in Denver in which two people attending a Bush "town hall" forum were ejected and threatened with arrest because they had arrived with Kerry bumper stickers on their car. Unsurprisingly, it later turned out it that it was, in fact, a Republican operative posing as official security who had engaged in this faux-official thuggery.

But then, we've known all along that Bush's roadshows are not real exercises in town-hall democracy, but are completely phonied-up propaganda events, Potemkin gatherings for Potemkin audiences.

This insulation of Bush and his toadies from public dissent by rigging the audience has, if anything, both worsened since the 2006 election (Bush hardly makes any appearance now in which the audience isn't thoroughly vetted) and has spread to other quarters; recall, for instance, the recent flap over the fake reporters at a FEMA press conference.

What's been fascinating to watch in the unfolding drama of the coming election -- with the ability to control the audience much more problematic -- is how the Potemkin Village's function in the right's propaganda strategy has been shifted to the Beltway Village and its attendant idiots.

An event like the YouTube debate took the questions out of the hands of the Potemkin Villagers and let in a range of voices. Which, of course, is what really has the wingnutosphere's panties in a bunch.

In contrast, consider what's happened at all the previous Republican debates -- wherein the entire affairs were overseen from start to finish by Villagers. To wit, from the Wikipedia rundown:
May 3, 2007 - Simi Valley, California: "The debate was moderated by MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews of Hardball and The Politico's John Harris. Questions were gathered from The Politico readers for the candidates."

May 15, 2007 - Columbia, South Carolina: "The event was moderated by Brit Hume, with Chris Wallace and Wendell Goler asking most of the questions."

June 5, 2007 - Manchester, New Hampshire: Hosted by Wolf Blitzer and a gaggle of mainstream-media pundits.

August 5, 2007 - Des Moines, Iowa: "[M]oderated by George Stephanopoulos and David Yepsen."

:September 5, 2007 - Durham, New Hampshire: "[M]oderated by Brit Hume, with Chris Wallace and Wendell Goler asking most of the questions."

Oct. 9 in Dearborn, Michigan: Moderated by Chris Matthews, MSNBC; Maria Bartiromo, CNBC; John Harwood, CNBC; Gerald Seib, Wall Street Journal.

October 21, 2007 - Orlando, Florida: "The event was moderated by Chris Wallace, Brit Hume, Wendell Goler and Carl Cameron."

Malkin and her pack of whiny-ass titty babies have nothing to complain about -- though that, of course, has never stopped them. And it certainly won't be the last we hear of it. In fact, the more we point out how ridiculous they're being, the more determined they'll become to prove us right.

Next thing you know, Malkin will be peeping through the windows of that scurrilous John Edwards supporter. It's her style. I just hope she reports it in that cheerleader outfit.

No comments: