Sunday, May 09, 2010


I was looking for something to say about the fact that arch-conservative Utah senator Bob Bennett apparently won't be allowed to run for reelection because his state's party has decided he's not pure enough in his conservatism (despite a lifetime 84 rating from the American Conservative Union), and I ran across the post on the subject by Robert Stacy McCain, which favorably quotes an essay by a fellow wingnut named James P. Riley. R.S. has mixed feelings about this, but he's clearly at least somewhat sympathetic. Here's the key part of the essay:

How do you defeat the conservative movement? From the inside. You put up a war hero like John McCain, whose personal courage can't be questioned but who has so little respect for our Constitution, he would have shut down the 1st Amendment 60 days before an election. You let people like Jihad-sympathizing Grover Norquist dominate gatherings like CPAC, because he can raise money, and then you send boys off to war behind leaders too timid to call Islam the enemy. You lionize a flag-waiving, gun-toting, beautiful mom, like Sarah Palin, who loves her country, but is too shallow to understand that endorsing global warming John McCain and shouting "drill, baby, drill" just do not compute. You have Fox News tell us just enough of the truth to garner our sympathies, but then you have Glen Beck calling Geert Wilders a fascist for exposing Islam, (and you watch Rupert move his headquarters to Dubai.) You ask for a limited government, but then you steer clear of the very social conservatism, the values vote, that would make limited government possible.

Yup -- it's no longer just that John McCain isn't pure enough, or that Grover Norquist's Middle Eastern ties are suspect. Sarah Palin is now a traitor. Glenn Beck is now a traitor. Rupert Murdoch is the enemy.

And yes, I said "traitors." More from Riley:

In short, you muddy the waters, you weaken the cure, you promote cowardice in the ranks. You make people think that the Republican party is your last best hope, that Fox News is "the only thing we've got," that above all, we just need to put up someone who can win -- even if, um, that person doesn't represent our cause very well. You create heroes who aren't really heroes, and leaders who aren't really leaders, and then you fail to identify them for what they are -- traitors.

Riley goes on, naturally, to pine for someone with "Reagan's clear moral vision" (massive budget deficits? tax increases? nuclear disarmament? openness to negotion with Mikhail Gorbachev and the Evil Empire?)

I've long suspected that the teabaggers, except in a few outposts, aren't going to go down this purist road. I still think that's the more likely course. But let's hope -- let's hope that, with the movement in the doldrums after the giddy anti-health-care moment, this act of purism is inspiring, and leads to more of the same. Let's hope that a likely McCain win in Arizona will be met by teabaggers demanding that voters stay home in "the spirit of Utah." Ditto for California if Fiorina wins her primary. Ditto for all the other primaries in which the establishment candidate wins.

After all, according to Mr. Riley (in a passage not quoted by R.S. McCain), this is literally of biblical proportions:

You remember the story. A Philistine giant mocks the armies of Saul and the two sides stand at an impasse. The brass-armored giant has a spear "like a weaver's beam," and the spear head alone weighs 600 shekels of iron.

A fourteen year old boy returns to Saul's camp after feeding his father's sheep in Bethlehem, and is scolded by his older brothers for trying to get in on the action, but the purity of the boy's response, even more than the final victory, is what touches me. "who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"

Who is this stinking heathen?

Are we going to let this insult stand--against the Army of God Himself?

... I've given up, once and for all, on Sarah Palin. She's the prettiest, most polished poison the enemy has produced in a long time, but that's exactly what she is, a deadly dose of cause-killing poison. When David's older brothers questioned his motives for wanting to defeat the giant, that's exactly what I see in a Sarah Palin's refusal to help JD Hayworth against McCain....

Wow. Just wow.

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