Matt Taibbi has written an interesting article over at his post at Rolling Stone, On Christmas, Republicans Quietly Declare War on Themselves. As usual with Taibbi, it’s a fun read so I highly recommend that you take a gander. But I think he is basically wrong.
His thesis is that the Republican Party spent the Bush years treating the electorate as though they were a bunch of fools, so it should be no surprise that their party is now nominating a bunch of fools. In a comparison that perhaps only Taibbi could come up with, he says that the Bush years were the political equivalent of Married With Children, “an ongoing self-parody routine where couch-potato America tuned in week after week to cheer on the nitwit hero as he and his brood took on a world of self-serious snobs and their silly ‘civilized’ conventions (like, say, international law).” You know: political junk food that you know will make you fat and impotent, but oh don’t it taste good!
I agree with him on one point: John McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin—”one of the few potential candidates in the Republican Party rolls even dumber than George Bush”—was entirely Steve Schmidt running the Karl Rove playbook. And since I’m on the subject: liberals like Schmidt a lot more than they should. He came off looking pretty good in Game Change. But that’s like saying that Othello came off looking good in his play. Yeah, Iago is the true villain in that play, but Othello is still the one who strangled Desdemona. Schmidt is the one who thought so little of the American people and of the country generally that got Sarah Palin nominated to be vice-president of this country. Schmidt should be living in a cave somewhere if not in a grave after his quite rational decision to kill himself. That is, after all, what Othello did.
But here’s the thing. There is nothing new about conservative politicians saying wacky things. The Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks have been around in the conservative movement forever. These are the people who President Eisenhower was discussing when he wrote:
Of course, Ike was wrong when he said their number was negligible. Then, as now, they represent 20% of the nation and 40% of the Grand Old Party. And they were out there in the 1950s talking about how God wanted black people to be poor. They were talking about how Jews controlled the world. They were talking about how water fluoridation was a communist plot. This was all done when Karl Rove was a little boy.
Now, there is little doubt that young Rove looked at all this nonsense and thought, “A large segment of the American public is made up of complete idiots!” He didn’t create it. He just used it. The problem is that using it gets harder and harder. Not even half of the Republican Party is made up of these “nuts” (Karl Rove’s term). So the rest of the Republicans and pretty much all of the Democrats have to be deceived into thinking that Republican candidates aren’t part of the Crazy 40. But that’s really hard in a world that is so interconnected. Within second of Richard Mourdock saying that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something that God intended to happen” people know about it on Mount Everest.
So now, the Republicans and the national Chamber of Commerce are hooking up to spend $50 million this year to stop “fools” from running for office. This will not work. For one thing, since 40% of Republicans (the Crazy 40) are these very fools, that means that roughly 40% of the people who run for the Republican nomination will also be fools. Most of it just comes down to abortion absolutism. If you don’t think that rape gives a woman the right to abort a pregnancy, you are going to run into rhetoric about how God intended it and how you ought to turn lemons into lemonade.
This is why the smart Republicans are doing the only thing that just might work: voter suppression. If only the Crazy 40 vote, it doesn’t matter what fools the Republicans nominate. And just like the non-crazy 60% of the GOP, the Crazy 40 will also do the bidding of the super rich. And that’s all that matters.