Round and round we go, who’s more hateful or cultish, the left or the right. All human beings possess the same personality traits, good and bad, the only differences are in degree and frequency in which the worst aspects of our personalities express themselves. When writing about politics and the associated personalities, unless you’re writing some 800 page annotated study, you’re writing in generalities, supported by some specific examples.
Credit where its due I think David Neiwert at Orinus beat Unclaimed Territory to the punch in identifying the cultish tendencies of the right in this five part series on ostensibly Michelle Malkin, but actually covers a cast of right-wing characters. Unhinged: Unhonest
including : The Minutemen, anti-environment extremists, anti-abortion extremists, eiminationist thugs, religious extremists, talk-radio hatemongers,Coulter, Limbaugh, neo-confederates like Trent Lott,John Carlson, racists Haley Barbour, Bob Barr, Kirk Fordice, Mike Foster(former Bush campaign chair), Michael Savage, and Bill O’Reilly among others people and organizations. If these people aren’t cultist and extreme, then what is, in referring to anyone to the left of Giovanni Gentile as excrement, treasonous, seditionist, traitors, terrorists sympathizers, the always popular – communist, and the usual smogasboard of disparaging remarks. From conservative pundits on radio, TV, newspaers, and certainly the internet we’re told that Democrats and liberals are treasonous, Democrats and liberals are military haters ( even though some of those same Democrats are decorated military heros), that anyone opposing the war in Iraq should be lynched ( forget that liberals by a large margin supported going into Afghanistan after Bin Laden), goated terrorists into attacking an American city, advocated the nuclear bombing of an indiscriminate Arab city to prove a point, the Asian tsunami – “Was it God’s hand?” and not a tragedy, public flogging of Bush critics, the benefits of “local fascism”, assassination fantasies, periphernalia depicting permits to hunt liberals. There is some of this behavior on the left, regrettably, but as David explains, we’re pikers in the world of hate mongering compared to the Right.
Ah, but the way Malkin explains things, you see, it’s the sheer volume of the left’s unhingedness that is worth examining. So her text is mostly dedicated to cataloging this ugliness — while studiously ignoring the question of whether a similar volume might exist on the right. Indeed, other than these two “minor” instances, you won’t find a single instance of Malkin describing (let alone denouncing) “unhinged” behavior on the right.
Not only are conservatives guilty of nearly identical behavior that Malkin describes as “unhinged,” but the volume of it is at least equal to, if not greater than, that from the left. Right-wing unhingedness is equally pervasive, if not more so, at nearly all levels: it can be found throughout ordinary movement conservatives; conservative media and punditry spokespeople; and among the officials and movement leaders (like Cheney) who set the tone for the rest. And it has been poisoning the public discourse for a much longer period of time.
Did the right actually think that Bush could carry out a truly bizarre agenda, riddled with incompetence, lacking self claimed compassion, undermine the Consitution, and that people of conscience would fold up like cheap chairs and by our silence permit the unraveling of American values. The Conservative faith
So, it isn’t precisely a cult of George W. Bush. It’s a cult of Republican power. We know this because when a Democratic president last sat in the oval office, there was non-stop hysteria about presidential power and overreach. Every possible tool to emasculate the executive branch was brought to bear, including the nuclear option, impeachment. Now we are told that the “Presidency” is virtually infallible. The only difference between now and then is that a Republican is the executive instead of a Democrat.
George W Bush has won two elections with the unquestioning support of conservatives. Yet, in his first term he made it quite obvious that he was not a conservative in any sense that I understood conservative. From out of control spending to federalizing education to nation building and messianic foreign policy, he has simply not been conservative by any common definition of the term. None of that stopped conservatives from virtually worshipping the man. It is only now that he has become unpopular and his policies are failing that his brand of conservatism is being criticized on the right.
David Brooks says that the left is Stalinist. I assume that’s what Sullivan’s title refers to as well. Communism is often considered a secular religion, although that clearly underestimates the huge power of state coercion. If the American left is Stalinist, it certainly has been extremely ineffective. After all, conservatism now dominates all three branches of government. And I can’t help but find this argument amusing considering that the primary critique of Democrats is that we have no convictions and are constantly fighting amongst ourselves. We are remarkably undisciplined totalitarians.
In one way both parties share the same religion: an all-American obsession with winning. In this I actually envy the right. When they fail, as everyone inevitably does at times, they don’t lose their faith. Indeed, failure actually reinforces it.
Liberals, on the other hand, have nothing like that. We hate ourselves for losing and hate our leaders for failing us. The conservatives just put theirs out to pasture and move on, secure in the knowledge that their greater faith will prevail. It must be very nice to live in a world in which you can never, ever be wrong.
Just One Minute writes in regards to Glenn Greenwalds original posts, Do Bush followers have a political ideology? and Follow-up to the Bush post yesterday ,”But fun’s fun. James Taranto took the trouble to follow the links and see just what evidence Mr. Greenwald offered in suppport of his thesis. What he found was not enough to get a passing grade on a seventh-grade paper, but was evidently more than enough for the Self-Invented Reality Based Community.”. Actually Glenn provided ample evidence short of a five year University study and if right-wing bloggers weren’t so lazy they would find plenty of evidence on their own, rather then relying on Glenn, David, or Digby to do their homework for them. As to the title of Reality Based Community that was bestowed on Democrats and liberals, albeit latently by a Bush administration official as reported in an article by Ron Suskind called Without a Doubt
, the official said, referring to Suskind,
The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
The “we” was the Bush administration. The folks of ” enlightenment principles and empiricism” embraced the title the Bush administration has itself bestowed upon us, ” the reality-based community’. Why shouldn’t we embrace it, as stated earlier, not all every single members of our team lives up to our ideals, but at least that’s what guides us. Not the dogma of Bush or conservative cultism.