Monday, November 13, 2006

Swimming farther out to sea

In the wake of the Great Repudiation last week, I predicted that the mavens of the conservative movement, rather than awakening to the depths of their repudiation, would remain firmly in denial and insist on moving the Republican Party further to the right.

Well, Rush Limbaugh's "conservatism won" claim has now become the standard talking point among right-wing pundits. See, for instance, CNN's Glenn Beck:
ANNOUNCER: Tonight's episode is brought to you by the Republican Party, abandoning its principles since 2004. And also brought to you by the Democratic Party. Thanks for choosing us, suckers! Bwa-ha-ha-ha!


BECK: Well, it's official now: 28 governorships, the House of Representatives and now the United States Senate are in the hands of these guys. Wow.

To the Republican Party, I can only tell you this: that is exactly what you get when you abandon your principles.

So here's the point tonight. I don`t know about you, but I actually care about the things that I've been fighting for, for the last few years: smaller government, lower taxes, a strong defense, cracking down on illegal immigration. But apparently, the leaders in Washington, not so much.

They're fickle about their own conservative values, and now everything that we have worked to fight for over the last few years, especially if these new conservative Democrats are only being used by the extreme left, everything we've worked for is about to be completely erased.

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings for Beck, but if you look carefully enough at the results from Tuesday night, it's clear that people didn't vote against Republicans because they weren't conservative enough.

They voted against them because they are too beholden to ideological movement conservatives who have been cheerleading them right over this cliff all along -- and turning off every voter in sight.

Reality check for Beck: If you go down your checklist, Republicans haven't been selling out your principles at all. Let's read it again:
smaller government, lower taxes, a strong defense, cracking down on illegal immigration

Now, it's true the GOP has actually been expanding the size and cost of government in recent years, but that in fact is only the natural outcome of pursuing "strong defense," aka the "war on terror," which has ballooned the budget even as Bush was cutting back on education, environmental protections, etc. etc., while simultaneously pursuing a steadfast course of tax cuts -- nearly the sole beneficiary of whom have been the wealthiest class of Americans.

As for "cracking down on illegal aliens," it's true that the Bush administration hasn't been as assiduous on that count as the fine folks at CNN who repackage white-supremacist bullshit and broadcast it to the nation. But there have been plenty of Republicans in Congress who have.

One of the foremost of these, you'll recall, is a fellow who's been on CNN a lot to talk about illegal immigration: Rep. J.D. Hayworth of Arizona. Talk about adhering to conservative principles: he even tried to revive Henry Ford's program of "Americanism," which you may recall was actually a code word for anti-Semitic eliminationism; it was also a favorite program promoted avidly by the Ku Klux Klan.

This got Hayworth, who tried to deny that this was Ford's intent, into hot water with local Jews. He went on to display remarkable sensitivity on this subject late in the campaign by avoiding any and all contact with Jewish audiences, resulting in this noteworthy pronunciation (via Wonkette):
Unable to defend his repeated praise of Henry Ford's anti-Semitic "Americanization" program, U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth bailed on a scheduled campaign appearance Tuesday evening only to send in his place surrogates who repeatedly lectured the audience at Temple Beth Israel in Scottsdale and proclaimed that Hayworth "is a more observant Jew" than those present.

The comment by Jonathan Tratt, a spokesman for the Hayworth campaign, drew loud and angry boos and caused nearly three-quarters of the crowd of more than 200 to walk out in disgust. After the walkout, another Hayworth surrogate, Irit Tratt, stood on the Temple's bimah as she told members of the audience who gathered to ask questions, "No wonder there are anti-Semites."

So how did ol' J.D., who had served six terms already and was widely considered a "safe" Republican, do in this election?

At last count, he was on the losing end of a 6,000-vote margin. And the general assessment was that Republicans' hateful image on immigration was a significant benefit to Democrats.

It's clear to any cognizant non-Kool-aid drinker that the public had had enough of the bile and antics -- and really, the core extremism -- of people like Hayworth. And Beck. And Limbaugh. Malkin. Coulter. Hannity. The list just became too long.

Guys like this, of course, want to force Republicans to swim farther out to sea after this tidal wave because that's the only direction they know. I mean, if Republicans were to wake up and realize what's happened to them -- that their formerly good name has been sullied by years of being led by fanatical demagogues -- folks like Beck, Limbaugh, Malkin, Coulter, and Hannity would shortly be out of demand and out of work.

Ah well. Freedom is a lovely thing. And you folks on the right? Please, feel free to swim as far out to that horizon as you like. Your leaders beckon.

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