Where Does That Leave You?

We ignore the seasons in our post-industrial age, but they must hold some portent beyond what we see on WeatherUnderground.com. How else to explain the madness of late summer when world wars and terrorist attacks are launched, the lunacy of last year’s congressional town hall meetings or the contrived narrative arc that’s spooled out this year, comprising the “ground zero mosque,” Koran burning and the triumph of tea-party candidates in Republican primaries?

Maybe it’s just the time of year when the fruit ripens. The primaries in Kentucky, Nevada, Alaska, New York and Delaware (and a near miss in New Hampshire) are the fruit of the seeds planted by Ronald Reagan 30 years ago… 45, if you want to count his asinine shenanigans as California governor.

Sure, it was fun to watch Karl Rove scolding Sean Hannity Tuesday night and then see Rush Limbaugh lose control of his bodily functions at Mr. Rove the next day. (The day after, Karl had to take to the airwaves and kiss several of Rush’s bodily functions to atone for his apostasy.)

For years now, the cynical manipulators of the Republican Party and Fox News have spouted insidious invective at Democrats, independents, anyone who does not fall down and worship at their chosen set of idols. They’ve laughed up their sleeves as the “useful idiots” of the religious right and the racist and homophobic elements of the voting population did their bidding. The rich got richer as the rubes voted against their economic interests and undermined American democracy.

The gay issue was useful for a long time. I remember the Florida 2004 ballot with homophobic initiatives tacked onto it to drive Bush base to the polls. Mr. Bush’s campaign manager that time around was Ken Mehlman, later chair of the National Republican Committee. Last month, Mr. Mehlman, after years of rumors, admitted he is gay. Guess it was just politically convenient to hide it and use gay-bashing as a cudgel. Now Christine O’Donnell grabs the GOP senatorial nomination in Delaware away from favored Republican Mike Castle, in part by insinuating that Mr. Castle is gay, leaving Mr. Rove to wring his hands at the unfairness of it all.

The Cantors and McConnells, like Victor Frankenstein, thought they could control the monster they sewed together with pieces from the graveyard of unwanted ideas. “Drive out the RINOs!” (Republicans In Name Only) they cried through the early years of this decade and the Chafees and Jeffordses of the GOP either switched allegiance or retired. If you drive out of the party everyone more moderate than yourself, guess where that leaves you?

Others are still surfing. Dick Armey, once a Texas congressman and Newt Gingrich’s lieutenant in the 1990s is now fronting Freedom Works, passing along some of Charles and David Koch’s oil billions to the tea partiers devouring the establishment Mr. Armey once called his own. I don’t think he gives a crap, as long as he gets paid.

Now the shouters at Fox and the GOP operatives have to decide if they can – or want – get this mad dog back in the yard. Homophobia having run the course of its effectiveness, they’re now playing with the gasoline and matches of religious hatred and racism, calling Barack Obama names and inciting violence against Muslims.

It’s amusing to see the right-wingers’ shotgun go off in their faces, leaving them with the blasted eyebrows of Elmer Fudd, but the greatest damage is done to our nation and we all suffer for it.

© Mark Floegel, 2010

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