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If you witnessed the last GOP Presidential debate on Fox News, you witnessed a Republican field of candidates that have become a cross between the John Birch Society, the Moral Majority and Americans For Tax Reform. When Jack Abramoff, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed burst onto the scene via the College Republicans, they were considered the tea party of their day by both parties. Complete radicals who had insane ideas and weren't to be taken seriously. I mean, they really loved South Africa under Apartheid.
Fast forward 30 years and their ideas have become embedded into the heart of the GOP. Thomas Frank predicts much of what happened to Obama in interview with Amy Goodman back in August of 2008 because he understood their bag of tricks as well as anyone ever has, especially on deficit spending:
But the most insidious one, the most insidious scheme for permanence, the one that really strikes me, is the use of deficit spending by the right. OK, now, I don’t have a problem with deficit spending. You know, it’s — liberals have used it for decades very effectively. You know, it’s — if you’re a Keynesian — you know, it’s one of the tools that you use to, say, you know, get the country out of a recession or, you know, build low-income housing, or whatever it is that you want to do with the state, right? So, but the conservatives got into power in the early 1980s, and they’re handed this tool, the big old — you know, the power tool of deficit spending, and I’ll be damned, they run that sucker right into the ground, you know, and pile up the biggest deficit anyone has ever seen, short of, you know, World War II.
And what that does, that leaves the next administration to come along, which happened to be Bill Clinton, leaves him with this colossal Everest of debt that he has to deal with.
Sound familiar? This isn't a defense of Obama's decisions or actions, but a reminder what many of us talked about during the 2008 election. This is why history matters so much in politics, but it's something that the beltway media ignores as much as they can:
He was going to do this; he was going to do that. And there’s this very famous moment where his advisers sat him down in ’92, before he was sworn in, and told him, you know, “I’m sorry, you’re not going to be able to do any of those things, because the deficit is so huge that the only thing you’re going to be able to do as president, the only economic policy you’re going to be allowed to have, structurally permitted to have, is deficit reduction.” And we know about this, because then Clinton went on one of his famous, you know, tirades. He exploded in rage, you know. And anyhow, so — and now, look at Bush, doing the same thing, right? So even if Obama does get in, he’s not going to have any room to move, in terms of a progressive social agenda, you know.
The Birchers became a powerful influence in the GOP during Barry Goldwater's rise to popularity, but was ultimately defeated for the soul of the far right by the NRO's William Buckley, who feared that their lunatic beliefs would destroy the momentum that conservatism was gaining. Now that Rick Perry has entered the race, Robert Welsh's insane far-right paranoid beliefs have a new transmitter to the masses and even if he fails to win the nomination or be asked to be the VP, he'll do considerable damage to many Americans belief system.
Talking about beliefs, The Guardian's Hadley Freeman tries to explain the modern day GOP in her own way by describing them as a cross between Orwell's 1984 and the movie, It's a Wonderful Life. Proof of Republican "doublethink"
Anal vocalization is not the only explanation for much of the Grand Old party's (GOP) behaviour and pronouncements in recent days: rather, it is, I can exclusively reveal, currently engaged in a mash-up of 1984 and It's a Wonderful Life, two pieces of fiction created over 60 years ago, which goes some way to explaining the distinct smack of irrelevance to the party today.
Despite having been written by one of those dreaded European socialists, 1984 appears to be the guidebook for today's Republican contenders. Even aside from the crazed fascination with sex some of them have (the Iowa debate also provided a platform for Santorum to explicate, again, his theory that gay marriage is the same as polygamy, having presumably decided that his worn-down-to-the-nub rib-tickler that homosexuality is analogous to bestiality needed a bit of sprucing up) which would impress 1984's Junior Anti-Sex League, the frank use of doublethink has been if not quite impressive then certainly unembarrassed.
Doublethink is, according to Orwell, "the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them … To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient …"
This is different from simply lying, which – as we live in what Tom Cruise once snarled is "a cynical, cynical world" – is expected from most politicians. Doublethink is looking at the truth and seeing just a reflection of one's desired self. It is the only explanation for Michele Bachmann's insistence that the credit downgrade was due to the raising of the debt-ceiling, even though it was largely, S&P said in its statement, because of her and her fellow tea partyists' "contentious and fitful" wrangling. She claimed on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday that one should never "mess with the full faith and credit of the United States", and yet that is precisely what she did.
Bachmann has said that wives "are to be submissive to their husbands" and, as Sarah Posner wrote this week on Salon, this idea, of the woman being "the obedient helpmeet, the vessel for the children, the devoted mother and warrior for the faith" is "central to the faith of many evangelicals". Yet when asked about it directly in the Iowa debate and again on Sunday on NBC, Bachmann retranslated "submit" to mean "respect", even though one could argue that their meanings are if not diametrically opposite, then at least on the quarter angle. It's enough to make one sentimental for English reappropriation of the "refudiate" kind. But where Palin only seeks publicity, Bachmann is a far scarier proposition.
And don't doubt for a second that Mitt Romney isn't pandering to these elements too.
Perhaps the most blatant use of doublethink was Mitt Romney's self-serving claim last week that "corporations are people, my friend", which managed to be both deeply Orwellian as well as sounding like an offcut from It's a Wonderful Life. It doesn't even require a tiptoe of imagination, let alone a leap, to envisage Lionel Barrymore as evil Mr Potter cackling to James Stewart as poor George Bailey: "Corporations are people, George!"
Mitt Romney is the preferred candidate by the GOP bigwigs like Karl Rove and Charles Krathammer because the Teabirchers are so far right that he appears to be the only candidate that has a chance to win the general election, but they unleashed a beast that's not likely to roll over because they are true believers.
Doublethink is the inevitable result of a Republican party that has become so McCarthyite; where homophobia, anti-abortion beliefs, Christianity verging on the evangelical, disbelief in science and a refusal to accept that rich people should be taxed more are essential so as not to be accused of being a Rino (Republican in name only). And there is no colder proof of doublethink than the look of moral superiority on a candidate's face when they are describing their wholly immoral beliefs that exist purely to cause misery, such as an "unblemished record" of homophobic policies (Bachmann). Is this evil? It's dystopian.
Wiki's definition of Dystopian
is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Dystopian societies feature different kinds of repressive social control systems, various forms of active and passive coercion.
That sounds about right.