Blogland,  Stateside

The Civil War On the U.S. Right

With the defeat of the Republicans [originally I said “of Bush” which makes no sense] , the U.S. Right wing blogosphere has gone nuts, and have started to slaughter each other. It is a tragic sight, and not one in which we should take any pleasure.

None of this is surprising. Political parties are coalitions of interests. In the US Right, there are religious conservatives and humane fiscal conservatives and economic liberals. Bush’s Presidency bound them together. Now that Obama is president, those bonds are dissolving. What this has meant, is that the more eccentric elements of the conservative Right, free of any restraining propriety, have launched themselves into the void of silliness.

It isn’t confined to the blogosphere. I get the impression that this is what is happening generally, on the U.S. Right.

The lunacy is heterogenous. Some champion the theory that President Obama was born outside the U.S., which would – if true – make him ineligible to serve as President. Others are pushing the so-called ‘intelligent design’ fraud.

One thing unites Republicans, however. Only 27% of them approve of Obama’s performance (against 90% of Democrats).

There is a very good piece by Oliver Burkeman in the Guardian, that looks at the same phenomenon, in the real world GOP:

Turning one corner, you’d find a group of student campaigners distributing Palin 2012 stickers and enormous full-colour posters of the Alaska governor; turning another, you’d find a crowd of thousands in the main arena cheering as John Bolton, the neoconservative, predicted Obama would be a one-term president, or going wild as Rush Limbaugh declared, “I want Obama to fail!”

In one room, the National Rifle Association was holding a raffle – imagine an English church fair, except with full-colour posters of semi-automatic weapons – while in another the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, recently banned from the UK because of an anti-Islam film he’d made, greeted an adulatory crowd. Stopping at a water cooler, I almost collided with the blogger Pam Atlas, who led the campaign to prove Obama had forged his birth certificate. She was delightedly hugging the author Jerome Corsi, whose book The Obama Nation, a hostile, error-filled attack on the Democratic candidate, had prompted a 40-page rebuttal from the Obama campaign.

It was hard not to see the merriment as taking place in a looking-glass world. Obama’s victory had been not just decisive, but transformative, with dire consequences for the rightwing: the coalition of voters carefully assembled by Karl Rove – low-tax fiscal conservatives, the religious right and the tough-on-crime, anti-immigrant, law-and-order types – had been blown apart. Twenty per cent of self-described conservatives had voted for Obama, as had a quarter of evangelicals; according to some analyses, a majority of the electorate had considered Obama, not McCain, the low-tax candidate. Democratic canvassers reported incidents of racist voters – a reliably rightwing demographic if ever there was one – announcing their intention to vote for Obama because he was the more competent candidate, even though in the same breath they’d sometimes call him a nigger. The Republican party was in “a world of pain”, the centrist Republican columnist David Brooks argued shortly after Obama’s victory. “It’s just a circular firing squad, with everybody attacking each other and no coherent belief system, no leaders. You’ve got half the party waiting for Sarah Palin to come rescue them. The other half waiting for Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana governor, to come rescue them. But no set of beliefs. Really a decayed conservative infrastructure.”

Read it all. It is a superb piece.

Charles Johnson, who runs the website Little Green Footballs, has become a particular target for that faction of the U.S. Right. He has become increasingly outspoken against those who push ‘birth certificate‘ nonsense, or who pander to ‘intelligent design‘ nuts, and most of those who – like Rush Limbaugh – want Obama to fail:

The bizarre GOP talking point of the day is that there’s nothing wrong with wanting Barack Obama to fail.

This is so wrong-headed and self-defeating I don’t even know where to start.

Criticize him, show where he’s wrong, point out the flaws in his policies, even mock the guy for his reliance on a teleprompter. I’m no fan of Barack Obama, as a look through our archives will clearly demonstrate. I didn’t vote for him and I don’t like what he’s done so far.

But when you say you want him to FAIL, even if you try to qualify it by saying “if his policies hurt America I want him to fail,” you are alienating and losing the support of the vast middle, who do NOT want any American president to fail. When you insist on it, they hear you saying you want America to fail.

The FAIL here is on the GOP side, and they’re doubling down on it. Creationist governor Bobby Jindal came out last night defending this crap, and now Fred Thompson is doing it too.

I didn’t spend the last eight years denouncing the Democrats for wanting President Bush to fail, just to turn around and do the same thing to Barack Obama.

The Republican Party is in reactionary denial mode, refusing to look at the real problems that cost them the last two major elections. Unless the party can find a positive message and articulate it clearly, we’re going to have Democratic presidents for the foreseeable future.

Who will win? That parody of Obama, Bobby Jindal? Or the fiscal conservatives?

Part of the problem is that there is no apparent Arnold Vinick to speak for those conservatives, the traditional ones, the ones we’re used to fighting.