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Republican campaign as murder-suicide pact?

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone (and his eponymous Taibblog) offers a funny, insightful but savage takedown of the Repub field which says has entered “the last stage in any paranoid illness” where the poor psychopath has started to believe that his best friends and most trusted allies are all part of the plot against him.

Yes it’s funny, sad and a little bit scary to see the latest round of the more-consistently-conservative-than-thou contest between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. My antennae were up when Santorum said on Wednesday night that although he regrets it now, he violated his own principles to vote for Pres. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” bill because “politics is a team sport” and “sometimes you have to take one for the team.”

 The studio audience booed even as he said it. And sure enough, Romney started making Santorum pay the very next morning. (Romney: “I wondered which team he was taking that for. My team is the American people, not the insiders in Washington.”) If that Santorum moment isn’t the subject of an attack ad yet, don’t hold your breath.

I actually liked Jon Stewart’s take on the “boo’ moment on last night’s Daily Show when he mocked the audience’s reaction thus: “Yes, booo. I boo your uncomfortably frank assessment of the inner workings of our Legislature. Booooo.”

To Taibbi, it’s evidence of the circular firing squad turning into a murder-suicide pact or, in this passage, a drug addiction.

“Oh, sure, your average conservative will insist his belief system is based upon a passion for the free market and limited government, but that’s mostly a cover story. Instead, the vast team-building exercise that has driven the broadcasts of people like Rush and Hannity and the talking heads on Fox for decades now has really been a kind of ongoing Quest for Orthodoxy, in which the team members congregate in front of the TV and the radio and share in the warm feeling of pointing the finger at people who aren’t as American as they are, who lack their family values, who don’t share their All-American work ethic.

The finger-pointing game is a fun one to play, but it’s a little like drugs – you have to keep taking bigger and bigger doses in order to get the same high.”

Yes, funny, insightful, savage. Old habits die hard and I cringe a bit when anyone is so convinced of the rightness of their own side that they abandon the effort to consider whether the other side has anything worth listening to. It’s not always easy, but I’m still trying.

And after this, no more from me about Wednesday’s debate.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/24/2012 - 12:47 pm.

    Darwin Award

    And this year’s nominee is …..

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/24/2012 - 01:38 pm.

    I don’t know who the “winners” would be, but I like Paul Brandon’s idea. Usually – or at least the ones I’ve read about – the Darwin awards ridicule the particular stupidity, bad timing, and/or sheer bad luck of some criminal who end up hoisted by his own petard.

    Offhand, I can’t think of a reason why, especially in an election year, similarly Darwinian (or, if you want to avoid any reference at all to evolution because it’s a socialist plot, suggest a better, but nonpartisan, handle) awards could not/should not be made to politicians of every political and ideological stripe who essentially self-destruct due to their own very obvious failings. That self-destruction would, of course, be demonstrated by being forced out of an election race by circumstances (funding goes away, criminal charges, video of the candidate in a compromising position/situation), or by losing the election.

    No candidate could be an award-winner if s/he won the election in question, but losers, or those who drop out, might automatically be considered as candidates, and it goes without saying that there ought to be a “top 10” list.

  3. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 02/24/2012 - 02:54 pm.

    Not sure what you mean, Eric. . .

    i.e. about not trying to listen to whether the other side has anything worth listening to or whom you are saying is “convinced of the rightness of their own side”. Matt Taibbi?

    I’m glad you are listening to the Republican debates though to try to hear if there is anything worth listening to. I’m not holding my breath that anything that emerges from this farce will be anyone but a right wing religious fanatic. Worth listening to just to know when it’s time to duck or run for cover.

  4. Submitted by Ann Spencer on 02/25/2012 - 01:52 pm.

    I thought I’d heard everything…

    and then along comes Rick Santorum accusing Obama of “elitism” and subjecting America’s youth to “liberal indoctrination” because he wants to make it easier for them to get post-secondary educations. This really is upping the drug dosage, as Taibbi suggests.

    Meanwhile, young people at our competitors around the world are devoting themselves to their educations and their governments are urging them on. How they must be marveling that a contender for President could promote such a self-defeating idea. And has Santorum looked lately at the unemployment statistics for those with and without a college degree?

    A four-year college isn’t for everyone and Obama has never suggested that it is. But this is just anti-intellectual demagoguery at its worst. And it’s so disingenuous! LIke me, Santorum is a few generations removed from Italian immigrants. His grandfather was a steelworker in Pennsylvania, my grandmother worked at a tannery (of all the awful places), also in Pennsylvania. Like Santorum, her grandchildren are now professionals thanks to the availability of education that allowed them to reach their full potential. The ability to rise through education is at the heart of the American dream. It could not be more consistent with the American values that Santorum and his ilk are always on about.

    The rhetoric coming out of this primary season is beyond anything I ever thought I’d hear an American politician say. Where are the journalists calling them out?

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