Note: This post was originally published 30 November 2011
I won’t try to fool you,” he says. “You’s too smart fer me. Aint a man in dis town kin keep up wid you fer smartness. You fools a man whut so smart he cant even keep up wid hisself,” he says [. . .] “Who’s that?” I says. “Dat’s Mr Jason Compson,” he says.
Old Man Job to Jason Compson in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury
Certainly, FOX News deserves beaucoups of blame for the transformation of the Republican Party from a formidable network of conservative rationalists into a rabble of reactionaries drunk on
rotgut rotbrain ideology, a corrosive concoction that destroys frontal lobes with meth-like dispatch.
Who would have guessed that 160 years after the publication The Origin of the Species the majority of candidates for the Republican nomination wouldn’t believe in evolution? That 66 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Party of Eisenhower would reject science and claim that contrary to the readings of finely calibrated instruments, global warming is a liberal conspiracy.
What are the odds of an honest, rational person garnering the Republic nomination? I’d say probably about the same as Pol Pot receiving a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize.
Pol Pot’s Cambodian Legacy
Let’s imagine a fiscal conservative with impeccable credentials and an exemplary personal life running for the Republican nomination. Let’s say he’s a learned man, an eclectic but deep reader, and based on reason, he has come to reject the concept that God Almighty ordained the founding of our country and because we are exceptional, we are exempt from the rules governing lesser nation states.
Our candidate’s conception of a divine being presupposes that the deity is rational. Certainly, if an omniscient creator god (one-third-Jesus) wanted to Christianize the New World, he could have orchestrated the transformation in less lethal ways. E.g., why not anoint a Native American prophet with a vision of the Truth instead of having Europeans (those relentless persecutors of Yahweh’s Chosen Ones) commandeer the continent, exterminate the natives, and institute human slavery so the righteous could build that shining city on a hill?
And let’s say our candidate appears on Sean Hannity’s show, and Sean asks our candidate if he believes in American Exceptionalism, and our candidate, being honest, answers with what he considers to be the truth.
“No, I don’t,” he says, “not completely.”
Hannity goes haywire. “Name one country that is better than the USA!”
Our candidate offers what he considers an unassailable example of a non-American culture with a more admirable morality. He might say something like that from 1776 – 1950 Tibet was infinitely more “Christian” than the United States.*
*In defense of our imaginary candidate, I submit Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Median as Exhibit A
Painting by Charles Schreyvogel
Here’s what would happen in the above scenario. Rather than engaging our candidate in a debate, countering his arguments with rational ones of his own, Hannity would scream “You mean to say that you don’t believe America is the greatest country the world has ever known!!!!????” incessantly in his face.
Later, the producers would edit the footage into its most devastatingly succinctly seditious deliciousness, and a babble of blonde anchorwomen, taking nothing for granted re. their viewers’ intelligence, would, like so many harpies, screech over and over and over again that our candidate hates America, that our candidate blames America first. We’re talking ad nauseum for days and days, the footage now appearing in ads, our candidate sharing a split screen with Fidel Castro.
James Braun: Harpy
Forget it, imagined candidate. The FOX News voters have just scratched you off their lists. Their minds have been narrowed in the relentless vice of reactionary propaganda. Repeating Roger Ailes’s talking points like parrots at barbecues, they’ve never tuned into the NewsHour, witnessed John Yoo and Alan Dershowitz argue diametrically opposed views in measured tones. Never really heard a credible opposing argument.
What does the rest of the unexceptional civilized world think of the Republican Party? Here’s a snippet from Der Spiegel via Harper’s Scott Horton’s translation:
Africa is a country. The Taliban rule in Libya. Muslims are terrorists. Immigrants are mostly criminals, Occupy Wall Street protesters are always dirty. And women who claim to have been sexually molested should kindly keep quiet.”
Welcome to the wonderful world of the Republican Party. Or rather: to the distorted world of its presidential campaign. For months it has coiled through the country like a traveling circus, from debate to debate, from scandal to scandal, contesting the mightiest office in the world — and nothing is ever too unfathomable for them… These eight presidential wannabes are happy enough not only to demolish their own reputations but also that of their party, the once worthy party of Abraham Lincoln.
They are also ruining the reputation of the United States. They lie, deceive, scuffle and speak every manner of idiocy. And they expose a political, economic, geographic and historical ignorance compared to which George W. Bush sounds like a scholar. Even the party’s boosters are horrified by the spectacle…
So now that FOX has successfully convinced hordes of non-critical thinkers that what’s good for the Murdock and Koch families is good for them (low taxes for the rich, the dismantlement of the EPA), it has become virtually impossible for anyone who disagrees with the FOX party line to gain the nomination.* How else to explain the Vaudevillian ridiculousness of the current crop of clowns vying to lead the most powerful nation on Earth?
Pinballing from work to the grocery store to the sports bar, we’re probably too distracted to appreciate fully how frighteningly farcical these Republican candidates actually are.