Are a high percentage of self-identified Republicans completely stupid?
Thursday, June 9, 2011
One aspect of American politics that receives insufficient attention is that a significant percentage of self-identified Republicans – around half – are complete idiots. And the candidates who wish to be elected by them must pander to them, either by being idiots themselves – see “Bachmann, Michele” – or pretending to be. Nobody in the MSM is empowered to say this aloud. Indeed, the very act of pointing it out brands one a “liberal elitist” who is biased against proud, patriotic conservatives.
Consider the kerfuffle over Newt Gringrich’s derisive comments about Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, made not long ago on NBC’s Meet the Press. In the first place, there is the problem of Gingrich being on the program at all. He was, I never tire of pointing out, its single most frequently booked guest in 2009, with five appearances, even though he held no official position in government and is the only ex – Speaker of the House ever to be invited on the show. (Nancy Pelosi, the actual Speaker at the time, did not appear at all that year.) In addition, we have the complication that although Gingrich is portrayed in the MSM as a genuine intellectual and potential president of the United States, both notions are just as crazy as Gingrich is. How else to explain a grown man who professes to believe that Obama’s political views can be understood “only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior”? And what about his insistence that the Obama administration leads a “secular-socialist machine” that represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union? Is this not enough to earn the boy a rubber jumpsuit?
What’s funny is that Gingrich’s tsoris arose from the fact that he accidentally said something sensible. Speaking of Ryan’s plan to destroy Medicare in support of yet another set of tax breaks for the wealthy, Gingrich explained, “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”
GINGRICH IS PORTRAYED AS A GENUINE INTELLECTUAL AND POTENTIAL PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
The sight of the reliably crazy Gingrich temporarily sounding sane threw conservatives into a tizzy. The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote that Gingrich “chose to throw his former allies in the GOP House not so much under the bus as off the Grand Canyon rim.” South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley denounced his comments as “absolutely unfortunate.” Fox News’ Juan Williams complained that Gingrich was “urinating inside the family circle.” And a spokesman for the far-right Club for Growth called it “beyond bizarre for Speaker Gingrich to call the Ryan budget radical,” adding, “What’s radical are Newt Gingrich’s comments. Perhaps he’s in the wrong party.”
In response to the right-wing attacks, as well as reports that he had sunk his ridiculous ego trip of a presidential candidacy, Gingrich quickly apologized and insisted that: a) he didn’t mean it; b) he had been “set up”; c) if he was quoted accurately and in context, that should be considered “a falsehood. Because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate and I’m prepared to stand up.” Standing or sitting, it made no difference to Sarah Palin, who attacked Gingrich for wimping out to what she called “lamestream, leftist media” pressure. Got all that? The Journal, the Club for Growth, and Fox News are Palin’s idea of “leftists.”
So, yes, the Republicans are in thrall to liars and lunatics serving as a smoke screen for a conservative class war against the poor and middle class, but the real problem is those damn Democrats who celebrate their victories, and defend their constituencies. Advantage, idiots.
ERIC ALTERMAN is a regular columnist for The Nation. His latest book is Kabuki Democracy.