Tina Dupuy's blog
This campaign season can be summed up by one interview on conservative talk radio last August. It was with Iowa Straw Poll-sweeper Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, in which she proclaimed: “What people recognize is that there’s a fear that the United States is in an unstoppable decline. They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward.”
Yes, Bachmann warned us of a foreign boogieman rising … one that’s been dead for over 20 years.
But warning of a zombie nation feasting on the metaphorical brains of the U.S. is consistent with a party now completely untethered from basic American history, science or any other evidence-based practice: The GOP is now a party standing proudly on a pro-fiction platform.
Yes, in their party, as an aide to Senator Jon Kyl put it last year, whatever they say is “not intended to be a factual statement” but to illustrate a point.
For example, this week Mitt Romney brought a Michigan tea party audience to tears recalling the 50th anniversary of the American automobile event he attended as a child … even though it took place months before he was born.
Former Senator Rick Santorum asserts public schools are an “anachronism” of the industrialized era as the reason they should be privatized. He said at the CNN debate last week: “Not only do I believe the federal government should get out of the education business, I think the state government should start to get out of the education business and put it back to the local and into the community.” Just when millions of Americans have lost their homes comes a candidate in favor of home schooling.
Public schools are arguably what made us a country. The colonies had one of the highest literacy rates in the world at the time. In James D. Hart’s “The Popular Book: A History of America’s Literary Taste” published in 1950, he notes that in 1650 New England there were laws requiring “reading and writing schools.” Education was thought to thwart Satan at that time (note to Santorum there). Hart goes on to include a popular ditty of the era: “From public schools shall general knowledge flow, For ‘tis the people’s sacred right to know.”
Also, the principal writer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, was (gasp) publically educated.
Santorum, as a pro-fiction candidate, also dismisses colleges as “indoctrination mills.” One man’s indoctrination is another man’s accreditation to work in the sciences.
The four candidates still vying for the nomination are pro-fiction to the core: Somehow the President who okayed the assassination of Osama bin Laden, sent drone attacks into Libya and kept Gitmo open is an apologetic pansy – soft on our enemies. Obama has deported more illegal immigrants and spent more money protecting the border than any of his predecessors – but he’s ignoring the issue of illegal immigration. Romney keeps on promising if elected he’ll make the military so powerful no other country would dare attack us even though we have the biggest military in the world. Gingrich who says if given any power he’ll send U.S. Marshalls to compel radical judges to explain their rulings, deems “the pill” to be the epitome of radical government overreach. Taxes? Too high even though they’re historically low (especially during war time). Tax cuts? A pay-for-themselves panacea even though the Bush Tax Cuts didn’t pan out.
Challenge their narrative and brace for the ad hominem attacks. You only believe this because you’re at least one of the following: liberal, socialist, unemployed, commie sympathizer, elite, dupe, European, journalist, gun hater, Muslim, Obama-bot, or (my favorite from my inbox) silly little girl.
Because in fiction you must create an enemy or there’s no story.
The pro-fiction party will tell you their ideas will lower gas prices, cut the deficit, end poverty, cut the size of government and make everybody super free by allowing the states to decide which rights to take away.
No matter how completely impossible – no matter how divorced from evidence or precedence – the GOP will continue to make claims not to be factual – but just to illustrate a point. Possibly that you should vote for them.
The Soviet Union must be watching this race right now and just laughing their heads off.
Michigan's polls close at 8pm EST. Arizona's close at 9pm EST.
The March 1st and March 5th debates have been cancelled. This could be the only debate to hold you over for an entire month.
Our own Blue Gal notes: "I can't believe Gingrich and Santorum agreed to debate on Ash Wednesday, but whatever."
Oh yeah. That's right. Maybe Gingrich will give up his third wife for Lent.
Open thread below.
On paper Rick Santorum is not a generous man. He’s the most religious; the staunchest of the moralists; the fastest to the Bible thumpyist; the preachiest of the preachy in this race. He’s the most giant-government-forcing-you-to-be-holy of the small-government-for-corporations-only candidates. Yet according to his tax returns, he gives the least amount to charity of anyone else running. In 2010 Santorum gave 1.75 percent of his nearly million dollars of income. That same year President Obama gave 14.2 percent of his income to charity topping the most giving of the Republican candidates, Mitt Romney. That’s a whopping 12 percent difference with a president who Santorum says doesn’t have an agenda based on the Bible.
Now this would not be notable if Santorum were a godless hedonist who wrote tomes about how well selfishness has served him. But since he’s of the Christian faith and uses God as a personal reference on his resume, well, then it’s quite significant. Especially since the Bible is pretty clear on charity and helping the less fortunate.
But Santorum’s other problem is he seems kind of anti-women. Now when I say “anti-women” I don’t mean he kicks all women in the shins instead of shaking hands, or he’s scared of anything with an extreme waist-to-hip ratio. I mean he’s anti women being anything other than a mother or a soiled dove. “Traditional roles” for women have been either wholesome mom or the proverbial whore: Mother or outcast; Child bearer or streetwalker; Womb proprietor or back alley courtesan. Feminism traditionally has striven for equality regardless of gender. It’s been a cry for women to be able to branch out of the world’s oldest profession into some new ones. And yes, gasp, work outside the home.
In Santorum’s 2005 book, “It Takes a Family,” the Senator wrote: “The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness.”
And Rick’s recent declaration that prenatal testing leads to more abortions only solidifies the caricature of him as a shady backwoods holy man in any Timothy Olyphant television show. It’s condescending to women to be told they don’t need to worry “their pretty little head” about the health of their baby because if they had knowledge they’d “ruin their lives with an abortion.” It makes Santorum look anti-women-being-educated-and-properly-informed. Because giving birth is the most important role in life – anything else is worthy of popular scorn.
Santorum’s team has sensed this woman thing could be an issue. So he’s trying to soften the edges with the (ahem) softer sex. Last week when ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked about the anti-women working passages in his book Santorum said his wife, Karen co-wrote those passages. "She felt very much like society and those radical feminists that I was referring to were not affirming her choice ... All I'm saying is ... we should affirm both choices ... That's what the book says, and I stand by what I said." Yes, the book, according to Santorum’s latest explanation, should have been titled “Affirming Choices.” Santorum: pro-affirming-choice. Sure.
I could make all these problems for Rick as a candidate go away. I have one simple solution: Give Karen an author credit. Yes, “It Takes a Family,” admittedly took a family to write, so why not accredit the co-author on the cover? Currently Karen isn’t even in the acknowledgement section – let alone on the cover or in the catalog information. So why not announce that the mother of your children isn’t just your personal incubator but is valued for her mind and opinion? It says your anti-women stance comes straight from the woman happily working in your own home. Do a re-issue of this collection of antiquated ramblings and tell the world she’s the wife who made you the anti-women candidate you are today.
It accomplishes two things: It makes Santorum seem generous (again) on paper, and it makes all of that Neolithic “women need to know their place” rhetoric in his 464-page manifesto seem more this millennium.
Sure it “takes a family” to write a book – but it “takes a woman” to make you look less like a sad desperate relic.
It's tea party reporter, Miss Susie Sampson's latest installment on the campaign trail.
Part of being a Democrat is acting like you’re losing even when you’re winning. Part of being a Republican is acting like you’re winning even when you’re losing. The phrase “silent majority,” that brilliant bit of Nixonian rhetoric, is a way to augment Republican numbers and voices. “Nearly all people agree with me and they’re not only in my imagination … you just can’t hear them.”
Senator Jim DeMint (SC-R) has an odd obsession with ill-fitting metaphors. He famously proclaimed his only reason to kill the Affordable Care Act was to annihilate the president politically. "If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him,” said the tea-touting Senator. DeMint has a pre-existing condition; he thinks an enemy’s high casualty mêlée is comparable to the inability to pass a sensible, relatively mild, reform bill. Well, at least when he’s talking about Democrats. As the kick-off speaker at this year’s CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) DeMint used a somewhat softer analogy: football. Specifically these two teams DeMint sees have different goals. “We don’t have shared goals with the Democrats…Compromise works well in this world when you have shared goals."
In football the teams are never expected to go in the same direction with the best interests of the fans in mind. Also in football, no team threatens to shut down the country as a strategy to win the game.
But maybe DeMint is correct: It’s really tough to compromise with a group that’s solitary goal is destroying you. Apparently taking the same oath to uphold the same Constitution, in the same country, drawing the same paycheck, in the same office building, in the same city and being of the same religion, sharing the same language and being mostly (85 percent) male, white and wealthy isn’t enough common ground for Republicans to even entertain working with those alien Democrats. It’s even tougher to compromise with a group who you could totally agree with but they retroactively become against their own ideas once you propose them. Like say, the individual mandate every GOP candidate was for before he was against it. (Yes, except Ron Paul, keep your emails.)
Enter the “severely conservative.” This was the description Mitt Romney bestowed upon himself at this year’s CPAC. “I was a severely conservative Republican governor,” said the oft-frontrunner. “Severe” is a word normally associated with pain or really bad weather. With today’s GOP, not only do Republicans refuse to have the same goals – they deny all similarities to their enemy. “The President is not like us.” This is severely conservative.
In the same speech Romney promised to repeal ObamaCare even though it’s nearly identical to the plan Romney signed into law in Massachusetts, dubbed RomneyCare.
Let’s put it this way: If Romney “repealed and replaced” the “job-killing ObamaCare” with RomneyCare, no one would notice. If there were a taste test and you covered the labels – no one could tell the difference. You’d have a 50/50 chance of guessing which reform you were actually enjoying.
But to be a true severe conservative demands suspending disbelief. What must you be willing to accept? The economy buckling while a Republican was in the White House never happened. Bush never bailed out the banks or the auto industry. Deficits suddenly matter. Clint Eastwood is a hippie. And if the country continues to struggle it’ll be great for the GOP.
It reminds me of King Pyrrhus’ quote which sums up the term Pyrrhic victory: "If we are victorious in one more battle, we shall be utterly ruined."
And well, these severe conservatives are acting like they’re winning.
That should tell us something.
Hat tip WaPo.
John King asks if the easing of roles for women in combat is a good thing. And Santorum answers with: "“I want to create every opportunity for women to be able to serve this country . . . but I do have concerns about women in front-line combat. I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved. It already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat, but I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat,” he added. “And I think that’s not in the best interests of men, women or the mission.”
"Other types of emotions?" That must be his Low T talking. Those old guys get so cranky when it's "that time of life."
In Santorum's 2005 book, "It Takes a Family" he famously came out against women working outside of the home. He wrote, "It provides a convenient rationalization for pursuing a gratifying career outside the home." Yes, he blamed radical feminism. And he quickly lost his senate seat by 17 points.
So, keep talking Rick. You're sure to win the primary against Herbert Hoover who's looking more progressive and forward thinking every time you open your mouth.
“Gen X” was popularized as an advertising term. Marketers used the label to describe the young people of the late ‘80s. The focus was on how to sell goods to the MTV generation.
Advertisements at that time, just as one example, started to feature unmarried couples to appeal to this group of consumers. This was a first and in the early ‘90s it was pushing the envelope. It apparently resonated. The advertisers gauged correctly: They successfully sold their products to Americans with the now documented lowest marriage rate in history.
The argument could be made (mainly by those who want to take us back to a mythical innocent time of the supposedly recent past) that it’s advertisers who’ve corrupted our culture and changed what’s socially acceptable through their manipulations. Or, if you have sold your proverbial soul to the gods of unfettered commerce – like the rightwing self-described Culture Warriors, or the (formerly) Moral (former) Majority – advertisements are the market speaking for the greater culture at large. And the greater culture, funny enough, largely disagrees with the rightwing.
Here’s how it works: Advertisers put out an image or an idea – the greater public concurs by buying those products. Successful ads equal agreed upon ideas. Marketing is, after all, the definitive pandering.
And here is what the culture is saying through advertisements: We like racial diversity. Why can I say that? Because commercials not only have racially diverse groups of friends and co-workers – they now regularly feature bi-racial couples in ads. In a Budweiser Super Bowl spot this year, there were black men flirting with white women sans scandal. If those spots are moving widgets it means consumers agree with the message. It’s a type of voting. Even if some viewers don’t notice or don’t have a visceral reaction one way or another – it’s an indicator of a new cultural norm.
Also Americans are okay with homosexuals. The American Family Association, an association for only pre-approved families, threatened JC Penney with a boycott after they hired Ellen Degeneres as a spokesperson. Now, Degeneres, besides being a comedic genius, is also a successful talk show host and a popular pitchperson for brands like Covergirl and American Express. The market has spoken time after time, and Ellen is adored and sought after. She also happens to be a lesbian, which has made her the target of the AFA whose influence is clearly eroding.
What else does the market proclaim? Well, Americans widely approve of birth control. And yes, even legal abortion. In the dust-up last week between Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Planned Parenthood the market picked the winner. It was Planned Parenthood. The nonprofit health care provider saw a spike in private contributions after Komen announced they would no longer give Planned Parenthood a grant to screen for breast cancer. And Komen’s brand has been forever tarnished by putting politics before their cure-finding goal. It’s already resulted in one resignation of the Vice President of Public Policy, Karen Handel.
You can think of the market as a leading indicator of our social mores and the Republican primary as a lagging one.