Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

What Democrats are up against in today’s GOP
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Many Democrats still don’t grasp what they’re up against in today’s
Republican Party. Naïve souls, they prefer to see national politics as
a giant PTA meeting, and to comfort themselves with civics text bromides
about the virtues of compromise and bipartisanship. Even in the face of
the Clinton impeachment and the naked power play that decided the 2000
presidential election, they have trouble comprehending the sheer
ruthlessness of the GOP political juggernaut. This is nothing new. Even
during FDR’s presidency, Will Rogers joked that he belonged to no
organized political party: He was a Democrat. Today, however, the party
simply must learn to effectively counter the well-organized army of
think-tank, opinion page and cable TV propagandists who parrot the GOP
party line, no matter how illogical or preposterous.

In effect, organizations like FOX News, The Washington Times, The Wall
Street Journal editorial page, Rush Limbaugh and right-wing talk radio
are simply adjuncts of the Republican Party. To this add scores of
Washington pundits often employed by tycoon-financed "think tanks" such
as the American Heritage Institute, Cato Foundation, etc. For all the
braying about "liberal media bias," which may be the most successful
GOP "spin point," Democrats simply have no equivalent propaganda machine.

Unlike Democrats, typically all over the place, Republican-oriented
pundits agree almost all the time—and not just substantively, but
tactically, too. Faxes and e-mails go out from the Republican National
Committee, and GOP sophists jump into line like the Rockettes.

According to David Brock, the onetime Republican "hit man" whose book,
"The Republican Noise Machine," explains exactly how the system works,
the White House’s "explicit goal is to get us to the point where there
are blue [state] facts and red [state] facts."

Judging by my e-mail, it’s working. Hardly a day passes that I don’t
hear from perfectly decent, intelligent citizens who believe that
there’s proof Saddam’s WMD were smuggled into Syria or that documents
implicating him in 9/11 have been found. This was Orwell’s great fear:
that the very concept of objectivity would disappear from political
discourse. "Collective solipsism," he called it; the ability to
convince people that 2 + 2 = 5.

A few recent examples:

George W. Bush nominates a black woman as secretary of state, and
pundits who have spent their careers decrying "political correctness"
argue as one that Democrats opposing her must be hypocritical bigots.

He nominates for attorney general a guy who rationalized torture, and
that man’s ethnicity, too, becomes his only necessary credential. Only
after Alberto Gonzales is confirmed by the Senate do some GOP pundits
rediscover their consciences.

A former male escort infiltrates the White House press corps via the
buddy system, and the very pundits who just months ago warned that
Democrats would enshrine the "homosexual agenda" go silent. Or they
pretend not to understand the difference between a gay reporter and a
gay prostitute. No fatwa issues from radical clerics like Jerry Falwell
or Pat Robertson; James Dobson keeps railing about the imagined sexual
proclivities of a cartoon sponge.

What do such examples tell us? First, that neither the Bush White House
nor most GOP pundits actually give a flying filigree about "political
correctness," " family values, "" moral clarity" or any of it. What
counts is winning. What counts is power.

One more example: Last week, I wrote that Howard Dean, recently elected
chair of the Democratic National Committee, appears capable of giving
his party a wake-up call because he’s scrappy, smart and fearless.
Hence, the GOP party line on Dean is that he’s a snobbish elitist and
an advocate of cultural decadence. Also crazy, because, as we all know,
anybody who sees through Bush must be consumed by anger and hatred.

A GOP columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette took offense. On cue,
he described Dean supporters as "shrill," " radical-left" "wacko," etc.
"[W] hen Dean bemoans the success of Republican appeals on ‘ God, guns
and gays, ’" the fellow chided, "he forgets that most Americans still
believe in God, don’t want gay marriage and do want to keep their
guns." Now anybody dumb enough to think Dean (or any American politician) has
declared himself anti-God quit reading long ago. But it’s a fact that
Dean was the only Democratic presidential candidate in 2004 to get an A
rating from the National Rifle Association. He jokes that Vermont has
only two gun laws: You can’t take a gun to school, and you can’t carry
a loaded gun in a car because it’s unfair to deer. As Vermont governor,
Dean opposed gay marriage. "Marriage is between a man and a woman," he
said. "... Most Americans aren’t going to support gay marriage, but
most Americans will support equal rights." Know what? I’d wager that my
antagonist, a college professor, knew all that. (I’d also entertain a
side bet that this particular left-wing elitist owns more firearms than
he does.) But in the fashion of Republican pundits everywhere, he
played his audience for suckers.

Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient
of the National Magazine Award.


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