The GOP Is Stuck on 'Stupid'
Straight Up: It's past time for the party to step into the real world and start facing the facts.
(The Root) -- We recently heard former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and current Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, both Republicans, use the word "stupid" in reference to their own party. Although they had in mind comments about rape and pregnancy like those made by losing GOP senatorial candidate Todd Akin, the problem, to me, goes much deeper.
Indeed, the relation of today's right-wing politics and news media to social reality often reminds me of a remark made by Alberta Roberts during an interview by anthropologist John Langston Gwaltney for his classic book Drylongso, when she said, "Now, the biggest difference between [black people] and white people is that we know when we are playing."
Of course, truthfulness is not a black or a white characteristic. Right beside Lance Armstrong, one could also point to Marion Jones, and so on. Still, Roberts' comment seems especially pertinent in light of some of the derision heaped on President Barack Obama's second inaugural address from some quarters.
That this speech I characterized as the velvet-glove approach can be construed as openly partisan or divisive -- which a number of commentators on the right have now done -- I find astonishing. Such comments, however, are wholly in step with a pattern in today's conservative politics and media of embracing distortions, half-truths and sometimes outright lies, while always adopting a posture of outrage.
I won't appeal to easy targets here. So let's set aside the claims of a liberal "war on Christmas" from Fox News. Let's also table for the moment the endless bellowing and attendant implication from conservatives that somehow there was a conscious Obama-administration failure and deception in the tragic deaths of U.S. personnel in Benghazi, Libya. Take all of that off the table.
Too little noticed or commented upon was the report by über-centrist (arguably right-leaning) analysts Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, published back in April of 2012 -- It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism -- showing that there is a decided asymmetry to the recent politics of lying in America. As the far right has solidified its hold on the Republican national-party apparatus -- with the Limbaugh-ification of the radio waves, Fox News persisting in its unusual understanding of the phrase "fair and balanced" and the rise of the Tea Party -- much right-wing commentary has taken on a more extreme and unhinged quality. Perhaps acutely so, with the election (and now re-election) of President Obama.