Scary Comedy and Tragedy on the Right
The spectacles of the recent Republican Presidential Debate followed by the Iowa Straw Poll could evoke both snickers and tears if you consider the actual qualifications of the now formidable Michelle Bachman and the neo-pious Rick Perry. They are collectively the latest Tea Party-approved extremists du jour. Neither is a person of great accomplishment. These twin towers of leadership are in reality a back bench congresswoman and another do-little governor in the mold of George W. Bush.
Neither is known as a great thinker. Both sport imminently saleable media personas. They are predictable conservative ideologues and thus ideal beasts of burden for carrying out further middle-class wealth extraction in the name of job-creation. They are not pragmatists, problem solvers, or true populists. Simply implementing more tax-cuts and eliminating social spending a la George Bush can’t be expected to produce any better results. Yet these candidates and their supporters insist this is the only way forward in our current economic situation and that this time they will get better results.
There is a frightful side of both candidates. Michele Bachmann is famous for her public displays of ignorance and for her refusal to retract her errors. She has tried to parlay that pseudo-virtue into a defiant female bravado. That tactic gets right-wing female candidates labeled as “willing to take on the media establishment” by the likes of Fox News. When a liberal like Hilary Clinton demonstrates assertiveness, she is simply labeled a “bitch” by the same folks. Such is the double standard we have come to accept from the right. Blatant disregard for the facts should never be labeled as anything other than wrong. Repeated experience with Fox News shows that different rules apply to them and to the rightwing media.
Governor Perry’s shtick involves playing the preacher man card by offering unsolicited prayers to draw media attention and identify himself with men of the cloth. Elmer Gantry comes to mind. He is likely alienating anyone who does not share his right wing Christian perspective. I’m sure he doesn’t much care. He seems to be counting on fundamentalist Christian extremism to re-awaken the religious right. Yet Perry’s conflation of church and state should scare everyone in the country. Former President Bush used his own faith to inform his misguided notions of when to involve the US in deadly, expensive wars with no exit strategy. We are still paying the price for that ill-advised trial of policy based on one man’s religious extremism. We can’t afford another bogus trip down the same road.
In a larger sense, democracy relies on having an informed electorate. It is weakened when powerful media become willing partners in the misstatement of the facts. Both Representative Bachmann and Governor Perry are media darlings of Fox News. They are likely to exploit having their own set of un-checked facts to exploit. While Republicans can expect to have Fox News backing them up, it is the responsibility of the citizenry and the media folks with a conscience to stand up for the truth. That would be true patriotism in the best sense of the word.