Saturday, November 21, 2009


In response to the previous post, ploeg says this, which is about Sarah Palin and her fans buts gets me thinking about the GOP and America:

Disillusionment takes time. Bush's poll numbers dropped steadily over the first six years of his presidency (with brief blips at 9/11, the Iraq invasion, and the capture of Saddam). Unfortunately, it took those six years for Bush to hit rock bottom, and he had a small but hard core of support even then. I wouldn't count on Sarah [Palin] following suit anytime soon, particularly since she has no responsible position at this time and can throw daggers as she pleases without having her fans call her to account.

Well, yeah -- and this is the danger of the magical thinking right-wingers (all of them, not just Palin) are encouraging right now: There's no reality test. None of the absurd proposals they make can be falsified for the next three years. And everything bad that happens in that time will be deemed the fault of Obama and the Democrats, even if (e.g., the financial crash, the wars) it's rooted in profound Republican failure, and it'll be treated as the Democrats' fault even if Republicans win back the House in 2010 (hell, even if they somehow manage to win back the Senate, though I don't see how that's possible).

Palin will never completely lose her core base of support, any more than Bush has -- 20- or 30-odd percent of the country will remain diehards. She has trouble with voters in the center largely, I think, because Tina Fey's imitation of her is so indelible; there's a negative baseline image of Palin now that's thoroughly negative, and everything she does that suggests the Fey version of Palin reinforces that negative image.

Unfortunately, there's no negative baseline image of conservatism as it's practiced these days. The crazy things right-wingers are saying don't seem inherently crazy to much of the center, and that's true because no negative idea of conservatism has taken root in the heartland, even now. (Yeah, I know that the GOP gets lousy ratings in polls, but a lot of that has to do with Bush's incompetence, which I fear isn't seen as ideological by much of the country, and with right-wingers thinking the GOP isn't wingnutty enough.)

There is a negative baseline image of liberalism, of course -- it's carefully cultivated by the right-wing noise machine on a 24/7/365 basis. Liberals, we're told unceasingly, are crazy and evil and pathetic and dangerous and scary and bent on the destruction of America. So as soon as a Democrat starts sounding too scarily, evil-ly liberal, a cloud of suspicion forms. No similar cloud forms over the crazies on the right, Palin excepted -- and she's excepted because Tina Fey made her look like the dolt she is, not because what she's saying is nuts.

I think, politically, she's toast, except among her fan base (which will largely forgive her any glitches on her book tour). But what she's saying, and what her fellow crazies are saying, isn't toast, because no noise machine discredits it.

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