Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Shrillness of Defeat

I really don’t have time to go into the details, but one thing I’ve been noticing is how many Republicans are now self-destructing.  I’m not even referring to the scandals that keep unfolding, but rather their worsening behavior as the midterm election doom approaches for them.  I’m thinking of Santorum and Bush, who are increasingly labeling non-Republicans in weird ways, and Lynne Cheney, who recently smacked down Wolf Blitzer.  And I could name lots of politicians who are becoming more and more shrill as their fate becomes more apparent..

And what strikes me is how heavily they’re playing to their base now, with little regard for how the moderates and independents think about it.  And I think that this confirms a point I’ve had for years regarding Republicans, and how they really haven’t been playing to their base.  That’s been a leftwing talking point for some time, that the righties play hard to their base, but they never really do.  Because their base is, at the most, really only about the 35% of the population that continue to support Bush; and it’s probably a tad bit smaller than that.  The rest of it was all trickery perpetrated against moderates and independents, into making them think that the Republicans weren’t particularly rightwing and that it was the libs who were off-base and extremist.  And they did that by appealing to moderates and not their base.

And sure, you can certainly find many examples of them doing things for their base.  But much of that was just lip service.  They say the right words, but never really want to solve any of the problems that their base wants solved.  Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free, right.  And even then, it’s often in coded messages that their supporters understand, but which aren’t easily explained to the uninitiated.  

But these days, they’re going balls-to-the-wall bonkers in terms of openly labeling non-Republicans as loony extremists and whatnot.  And sure, that’s something that the rightwing talkers and supporters often said, but that wasn’t really coming from the actual politicians very much.  Because they didn’t need to, because the talkers and supporters were already repeating the message.  The politicians could skate across the ice that the spin-machine had already laid out for them.

And sure, Bush, Cheney, and others would often allude to libs being traitors, but again, they were never so brazen about it.  And it worked.  Their base got the message, but the mainstream moderates, independents, and Beltway pundits were relatively clueless about what was going on.  And when we tried to clue them in, they failed to believe us because they had been inoculated against the truth.  These weren’t valid criticisms we were leveling.  We were merely “Bush haters”.

But now all that’s changed.  Republican politicians are getting desperate and they’re throwing all their old chicanery out the door.  And I really don’t think it’s helping them at all.  In fact, I think it’s going to hurt them even more.  Because they’re becoming more and more shrill and saying all of the things that were once only heard on talk radio, and other places that tailor their message directly to the Republican base.  And moderates, independents and the Beltway people aren’t going to like it.  

That’s not to say that things are necessarily over for the Republicans, because anything can still happen.  Had they been doing this for about a month longer, they would have certainly been sunk by now.  And if things continue as they are, the Republican Party as we know it is effectively over.  They will continue on and on with their shrillness and appeals to the base, and will offend more and more people.  But this wasn’t some odd fluke of the system.  This is how things were supposed to be.  We’ve had a few years of a very weird period in history, due largely to the attacks on 9/11, and now the status quo is settling back in again.  And that status is with the Republicans as a shrill minority that continues to offend everyone but the truest diehards.

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