Thursday, May 10, 2012

How the anti-left killed the right

By Rick Morris
I’ve finally cracked the code.
ITEM: Talk show yapper Hugh Hewitt, known on his radio show to dismiss criticism of Bush’s Big Government policies with the saying, “I’m not going to attack my side,” proclaims Bush a “great president.”  Not to be outdone, Rush Limbaugh describes a call from the Bush clan as “a great thrill.”  Additionally, Sean Hannity has been known to ignore Bush’s doubling of the national debt and act like irresponsible federal spending started on January 20, 2009.
For years now, I’ve wondered about what happened to the right when George W. Bush was president.  Granted, Republicans are famous for their tribalism, and he got a lot of rope for the immediate 9/11 aftermath/response, but with his record of huge spending and a horrible war in Iraq that was prosecuted with one arm tied behind the proverbial back for four years, there should have been some accountability.  Even if not a primary challenge, still a large-scale uprising.  In 1976, Gerald Ford had to answer to Ronald Reagan and came within a few bribed delegates of losing the presidential nomination to him.  In 1992, back in my youthful political heyday, Pat Buchanan gloriously stuck it to King George I when he whizzed all over the Reagan legacy.  Time was that people cared if you governed according to principle.  What happened?
Slowly, the logical explanation has come into focus.  Essentially, what can be called the “anti-left” has replaced the “right.”
What does this mean?
Essentially, the conservative movement that I joined in my college days and experienced from the inside as an intern at The Leadership Institute was replaced by a movement completely defined by opposition – sometimes in quite puerile terms – to the other side.
In retrospect, there was a reason that the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity grew ever more shrill in their denunciations of the left during Bush’s tenure – rather than even bothering to address his record, which would have been quite inconvenient for them.  Midway through the Bush years, they pioneered the “Neener Neener Neener” style of political discourse that has dominated the style on their side of the spectrum since the rise of Obama.
In my youth – late-era Reagan – when I first became involved in politics, I knew what I stood for as well as what I stood against.  Chucking slurs at liberal policies was something you did with a chuckle, because let’s face it, demagoguery is fun!  But it can’t be the sole component that you put out there.  You have to stand for something.
These days, you can’t go on a right-wing blog or listen to a right-wing talk show without experiencing anti-left bile that exists without any countervailing policy ideas as a complement.  Over and over, we are told that “Obama is the worst president in history.”  Not far off in my book, but how about the man who ensured his presidency by presiding over such a flaming wreck, George W. Bush?  Tell that to a “conservative” and be prepared for the childish “Whose side are you on?” comeback.
Before I had fully developed this framework, on some FDH Lounge political discussions with my man Christopher Galloway, an Original FDH Lounge Dignitary, I had classified this syndrome as “red team, blue team” or “the right-wing echo chamber.”  Folks who cried about “Bush Derangement Syndrome” when he occupied the Oval Office embraced the same kind of substance-free critiques of Obama – but it’s supposed to be OK because of who’s dishing out and receiving the treatment.
In reality, substance-free critiques of Obama are one of his greatest gifts almost 3 ½ years into a failed administration.  We could be talking about how a crew that embraces the term “forward” has pushed the worst ossified statism on us at great cost.  We could be talking about how a crew that treats secularism as its own religion has gone after actual religion with a vengeance and called the means of self-defense a “War on Women.”  But no, let’s moan about how Michelle Obama wants to force our youth to eat vegetables at gunpoint (apparently, childhood obesity is a good thing if it is opposed by a Democrat) and how many vacations the Obamas take (from the same Einsteins who cried “cheap shot” anytime somebody tallied Dubya’s days clearing brush in Crawford while on the clock).
For Limbaugh and Hannity, this stupidity makes sense.  Another Obama term for them equals big bank as the “voices of truth to power” rather than the quislings practicing cognitive dissonance under another RINO president.  But for those who mimic these frauds and in so doing, prop up the left with their feeble bumper-sticker, mouth-breathing “opposition,” I feel sad pity – at least on days when I am generously inclined.
Speaking of the man who would be that RINO prez, Mitt Romney, recent polls have indicated in one respect that I was wrong and Mr. Galloway was right.  Holding up principled paleoconservatives like myself and fellow FDH Lounge Original Dignitary Nate Noy as examples, I argued to Chris that a confirmed flip-flopper and outright liar like Romney would never be able to consolidate GOP votes behind him in great numbers.  It’s not like he even ran convincingly as a great conservative, choosing instead to dump tens of millions in toxic sludge in the form of disgusting lying ads on his opponents.
Well, Chris was better tuned into one aspect of reality: people will, when beaten over the head enough times, cling to the notion of someone as a “winner” and someone who can and must “beat the worst president in American history.”  He sure as Shiite ain’t going to rally the independents or Reagan Democrats, but Republicans who worship at the altar of the specter of Obama’s fiery death?  Yeah, he consolidated them, all right.
So in the end, the anti-left will have sold its soul for a phony who secretly despises them – having seen the actual conservative movement resist the rise to power of his father more than four decades ago – and they will have nothing to show for it.  Meanwhile, we actual conservatives will be left to pick up the pieces and prepare for a day when enough people who are supposed to be on our side prefer actual public policy prescriptions to Birther talk and situational ethics.
It’s sad; as a lifelong Cleveland sports fan, I have long bemoaned about the preponderance in the fanbase of the stupid and uneducated who help to maintain the Petri dish that allows our misery to thrive.  Experiencing the same syndrome in the more serious world of politics – from those also ostensibly on my side – feels much, much worse.

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