Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Which of these right-wingers has suffered the most?

(1) The guy with no military experience who said a veteran of the Vietnam War knows nothing about torture, even though that veteran was tortured for years?
(2) The guy who defended a fellow rich guy who's alleged to have raped a member of a hotel cleaning crew?
(3) The guy who expressed an opinion on a Republican budget proposal that's more or less in sync with the opinion of more than two-thirds of America?

Well, you know the answer. That unpopular budget proposal is Republican dogma now, so a chastened Newt Gingrich has emerged from a brutal right-wing reeducation session and is now recanting, in a series of shaming rituals:

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich apologized in a telephone call to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday afternoon for his remarks on "Meet the Press," where the presidential candidate referred to Ryan's Medicare proposal as "radical change."

... From Iowa, Gingrich held two conference calls with tea party leaders scattered throughout the nation -- one on short notice Monday night, and another Tuesday morning. Aides said Gingrich started each of the half-hour calls by explaining what he meant on "Meet the Press," and acknowledging that he could have expressed it better....

After exchanging conciliatory emails with Ryan, Gingrich had the phone conversation from Minneapolis....

By contrast, I guarantee that Rick Santorum will not be even mildly criticized by fellow right-wingers for saying, of John McCain, that "he doesn't understand how enhanced interrogation works." And Ben Stein? Well, he, like Santorum, is being attacked and mocked by non-right-wingers for an American Spectator blog post in which he implies that Dominique Strauss-Kahn can't possibly be guilty ("If he is such a womanizer and violent guy with women, why didn't he ever get charged until now? ... Can anyone tell me any economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes?") and casts aspersions on the accuser ("What do we know about the complainant besides that she is a hotel maid?") -- but while he's been mildly upbraided by fellow righty Jonah Goldberg ("This is not Ben Stein’s greatest moment"), it's certain that he'll emerge from this with his reputation among fellow righties much less tarnished than Newt Gingrich will as a result of his anti-Ryan heresy. And in the non-right-wing world, what Stein said will be barely noticed; he'll be welcome everywhere he was welcome a week ago, as will Santorum.

Why is Ben Stein able to get published these days at all? He's not just a rape-victim blamer -- he's a rape-victim blamer who doesn't believe in evolution and who's asserted that belief in evolution led to the Holocaust. Why isn't he a pariah, on the level of Fred Phelps and David Duke?

And Santorum has insulted a guy we're supposed to regard as a war hero. Why does Santorum hate the trrops? Isn't that supposed to render you a pariah?

Well, the right doesn't make you a pariah unless you harm the right; for conservatives, it's all about conservatism -- they have no larger interest. And outrage on the part of lefties and the mainstream political press, even working together, isn't enough to marginalize someone. In any event, it's rare when mainstream news organizations, in particular, even bother to recognize when someone has gone beyond the pale. (Ben Stein lost his regular New York Times gig a couple of years ago, but it was for a conflict of interest, not for advocation superstitious pseudo-science, or for declaring that belief in science is Nazism.)

The only people, apart from the right, who can put someone in the pariah category are the folks in the celebrity/gossip press. It's their work that's made pariahs out of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump. We didn't do that -- we're not capable.

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