Wednesday, November 25, 2009

For GOP Scouts: Loyal, thrifty, reverent, scary

AS IF REPUBLICAN pols didn't have enough to keep them busy these days, there's now word that some predatory members on the Republican National Committee have a mind to confront their candidates with a modern version of those scary loyalty oaths of decades ago. In short, they are insisting on adherence to a list of fail-safe conservative ideas that have long escaped the cutting room floor. Violators, I'd guess, will be accused of ideological adultery and probably disowned.

Some critics of the party's rightwing adventure into self-profiling refer to it as a litmus test. But the inquisitors have placed what they consider to be a nobler title on their plan. They are calling it, "Reagan's Unity Principle for Support of Candidates," and if there's anybody young enough on the RNC to remember all of that in one sitting, it might have a chance for success. On the other hand, the GOP sleuths might only be kidding. You would hope so.

I can only conclude that somebody must have picked up a tattered copy of the Birch Society's Blue Book at a yard sale, issued by its late founder Robert Welch. Replace Welch's notion of an insidious domestic Communist threat (as well as showily patriotic assaults on unnamed traitors and socialized medicine) with "socialist" and I don't find much difference between the Birchers mob-like passions of the late 6os into the 70s - and the Teabaggers of today. I was reminded of that again when a government official lost his job after Glenn Beck dragged him through mud.

Well, those Republicans who have apologetically cowered before Limbaugh have only themselves to blame. Politics have never been an arena for polite society. But you can ask what has the party done in recent years to avoid the Frankenstein that it created on the hard right that is now threatening to consume its own people, litmus test included. The Becks, O'Reillys, Kristols, Bachmanns et al have had fun while it has lasted, but now the GOP faces threats of a third-party movement that has already begun in Florida. In February, the Teabaggers will stage their first national convention with such headliners as Sarah Palin and Bachmann. It will be more than a moment for the exchange of valentines.

GOP candidates have also stood silent against the bizarre ranters at the Tea Parties who lowered their brand still further with over-the-top misbehavior at public meetings. None has so demeaned their tactics more than the mocking outburst of laughter and hoots by a a group that dubbed itself the Chicago Tea Party Patriots at a recent Chicago town hall meeting. They targeted a couple who rose to lament that their daughter-in-law and unborn grandchild died in the absence of health insurance.

Oh. I haven't mentioned the 10-point test for true conservatives, but you can probably name the talking points: free markets, taxes, federal debt, guns, overseas containment of the bad guys with whatever it takes, marriage contracts, labor rules, immigration etc. One study by Think Progress has already identified 40 Republican congressmen who couldn't pass the exam.
As a counter-test of the profilers I might suggest challenging them to recite the alphabet in the proper sequence.

I've just read How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill. The historian wrote that the Romans considered the Barbari (anyone not a Roman) as an "undistinguished, matted mass of Others, not terrifying, just troublemakers, annoyances, things one would rather not have to deal with..."

I thought that it might well describe the crazy profilers on the RNC. On the other hand, for their fellow-traveling Teabaggers, do you think that description might be too kind?



TB said...

The writing in this piece is sharp enough to cut through a can of cranberry sauce! I hope I never draw your ire!

Grumpy Abe said...

Thanks. On some days I can't even open a jar of mustard!