Crazy Like a Fox

I admit having a morbid fascination with electoral politics, the way some people feel about slasher movies. Even so, the Sarah Palin bus tour is too gruesome and I must avert my eyes.

Democrats are said to be happy with the antics of the former half-term governor of Alaska. The hype around Ms. Palin chokes off oxygen for serious candidates, governors who finished their terms (Jon Hunstman, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney). Ms. Palin and fellow freak-show candidates Newt Gringrich and Michele Bachmann aid the Dems’ cause in the next year or so, tear their fellow Republicans to bits in nasty primaries, then drop out and go to work (or back to work) for Fox News. The more outlandish the campaign, the bigger the Fox contract – isn’t that the way it works?

Why would Fox News chief Roger Ailes do this? Richard Nixon’s tee vee producer came to Fox 15 years ago and built it into the propaganda wing of the Republican Party. Shouldn’t he realize that by financially rewarding greater extremes of Republican buffoonery, he merely creates a market for it and eventually even dim voters begin to realize the GOP is not making an effort to address people’s real concerns?

Or does he? I’m not suggesting a conspiracy, but things seem to be working out well for the interests Mr. Ailes represents.

Unless this is your first visit to this space, you’re not surprised to learn I’ve been disappointed by Barack Obama. He campaigned to the left in 2008 and has governed to the right since 2009. Of course, his apologists say, what else can he do, given the all-out efforts by Republicans in Congress to subvert and sabotage his agenda?

Here’s how it seems to be working out: Fox News drives the Republican Party further and further to the right, creating a vacuum on the center-right that the majority of Democrats seem only too happy to fill. Why not? There are plenty of votes on the center-right, the people who used to be mainstream Republicans mined them for years. More important, shifting to the right ensures Democrats that they will qualify for generous campaign contributions from corporate America – the same life-sustaining political cash the federal courts seem determined to loose in unimpounded torrents.

In last weeks Washington Post, Harold Meyerson notes that unions are no longer offering across-the-board support to Democrats, given that across-the-board support for unions is now a relic of the Democrats’ distant past. (He also notes the unions’ are preparing for their own demise.)

We’re 17 months away from the next presidential election and pundits say no Republican candidate is likely to beat Mr. Obama. Many of Mr. Obama’s 2008 supporters are as uninspired, but whom else can they vote for (if they vote at all)?

This morning’s New York Times says no president since Franklin Roosevelt has won re-election when the unemployment rate is higher than 7.2 percent (right now, it’s nine percent). Interesting statistic, but I think it misses the point. No politician from anywhere on the spectrum has seriously addressed unemployment and our unemployment crisis is almost three years old. Clearly, they know it doesn’t matter; it only affects the little people.

Again, I don’t think this is a conspiracy, but just as natural evolution eventually produces complex organisms, so political evolution, driven by the concentrated pools of cash, leads to certain inevitable ends. In this case it’s a two-party government that acts as contractor for the corporate state.

© Mark Floegel, 2011

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