Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vox Populi Vesani


Gotta give him some credit: at least he didn't say Obama created the hurricane. Just that he made the hurricane center meteorologists lie about it.

There are so many things about which one could say "it tells you all you need to know about today's Republican party." But right up there at the top is the fact that Rush Limbaugh holds so much sway over it. Millions of devoted listeners lapping him up. Speaks at all their gatherings. All its potentates kowtow to him, seek his imprimatur. When Rush sneezes, hankies are lifted toward him by knee-bended teabaggRs, heads bowed in obeisance, hoping a little of his frothy sputum drips on them.

I don't follow Rush Limbaugh, but I can't avoid reading about him once in a while. I don't know if this is an escalation from cynical money-making phony bombast to card-carrying insanity, or if he's always been this crazy. But I have no doubt there are millions nodding their heads in agreement as he suggests that the national weather service is a pawn of the White House, willing to cost communities millions by making false predictions for political purposes. And, since it must be true that most of them are career professionals, staying in place across administrations, we have also to conclude that they bend with the winds. Which seems appropriate.

With demonstrably insane leaders spouting conspiracies, rejecting facts (one of Romney's people, defending their totally dishonest welfare ads on the grounds that they're effective, just said "we're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers"); with a platform proudly built on denialism, hate-mongering, and rejection of the very idea of expertise and education, how can it be that today's Republican party appeals to anyone at all, let alone about half the country?

If America is exceptional in any way, it's that it's flourished by virtue of commitment to public education, to embracing innovation, welcoming immigrants, calling out fakers, demanding an aggressive and free press, willingness to provide the basics of what average people need to succeed. Respecting opposing views, keeping religion (mostly) separate from public policy. Think of where today's Republicans stand on any of those issues, and of where their retreat from them is taking us. The party that tosses around the word "exceptionalism" like a bludgeon, thinks saying it is enough; and it rejects everything that, until now, has made it possible. (Count the times the word is used at their convention. Observe the items in their platform that will usher in an end to it.)

Proudly uninformed, actively rejecting knowledge and deriding -- mocking!! -- expertise, trying to reduce what was once (arguably) the world's best system of public education to nothing more than Sunday School, spouting conspiracy theories with every exhalation, retreating from a melting-pot of ideas to an insular and frightened paranoid parochialism, today's Republicans are, in every way, exactly the opposite of what's made America successful. And what's most appalling of all is the ease with which their Limboid view of things has taken hold.

But then, it's exactly because it's easy. Easy is easier. The world has become too difficult for the Republican mind to manage. At the very time when reason and cooperation are most critically needed, they recoil in horror and retreat to mumbledom, catch phrases, easy and doctrinaire answers, fantasy. Need I point out the similarities to, you know ... that religion thing, the fundamentalist variety, anyway, on which the R party rests its case. The problem is that singing and praying and testifying might be just dandy for your mortal soul, but they aren't enough when there are worldly problems to solve. Nevertheless, responding to the difficulties we face, today's Rs are just singing louder, praying harder, and listening to their media testifiers as if their non-truths will set them free.


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