This post originally appeared at No More Mister Nice Blog. Peter Baker's article in today's New York Times Week in Review section is headlined "Elitism: The Charge Obama Can't Shake." Baker seems to accept the notion that Obama has brought this problem on himself, though he can't quite seem to explain how -- something about Obama's "cerebral confidence," or perhaps it happened because of one remark Obama made earlier this month about voters rejecting Democrats because they're not quite grasping the facts. (But, um, that was earlier this month. Why has the charge stuck for so long? Baker can't say.) Elsewhere, Maureen Dowd gets a little closer to reality -- she thinks Obama's been a poor salesman for his own ideas and deeds (which I think is true), though she also hits the elitism button (she says Obama seems "sniffy," which is a word I might have used to describe George W. Bush at times during his presidency, including times when he was very popular). But the notion that Jes' Regular Folks are rebelling against a pinky-extending millionaire president is undermined somewhat by a Matt Bai article that focuses on a tea party leader in Utah:
Generally speaking, Tea Party enthusiasts don't think much of East Coast media types, and it was hard not to consider this fact as David Kirkham slammed his roadster into fifth gear, topping out at more than 100 miles per hour as we hurtled toward another curve.... As Mr. Kirkham expertly maneuvered this car he had designed and built in his factory, I began to understand that there was a point to his having invited me along for the ride, and it wasn't to give me a heart attack. The message he seemed to be sending was, We are not who you think we are. We are serious people with serious abilities. As recently as a year ago, these cars were Mr. Kirkham's sole passion. For about $100,000, Kirkham Motorsports, the company Mr. Kirkham started with his brother, Thomas, in 1995, will build you an exact replica of the 1960s-era Shelby Cobra, sculpted from 1,500 pounds of aluminum. A custom-made version like the one Mr. Kirkham designed and built for Larry Ellison, the chief executive of Oracle, will run you something closer to $1 million. Let's just say Mr. Kirkham does all right. But now, at 43, Mr. Kirkham has another obsession: He is the founder, more or less, of the now 10,000-strong Utah Tea Party, the chapter that helped get this national movement rolling by leading a stunning revolt against a sitting senator, Robert Bennett....
I'm not much of a car guy, but you can see that million-dollar car Kirkham built for Larry Ellison here. The book documenting the process of building the damn car costs $4,500 a copy, fer crissake. Tell me again about the economic anxiety of the teabaggers? Which gets us to Frank Rich. I think he's somewhat on target in today's column:
... The Tea Party's hopes for actually affecting change in Washington will start being dashed the morning after. The ordinary Americans in this movement lack the numbers and financial clout to muscle their way into the back rooms of Republican power no matter how well their candidates perform.
Trent Lott, the former Senate leader and current top-dog lobbyist, gave away the game in July. "We don't need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples," he said, referring to the South Carolina senator who is the Tea Party's Capitol Hill patron saint. "As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them." It's the players who wrote the checks for the G.O.P. surge, not those earnest folk in tri-corner hats, who plan to run the table in the next corporate takeover of Washington. Though Tom DeLay may now be on trial for corruption in Texas, the spirit of his K Street lives on in a Lott client list that includes Northrop Grumman and Goldman Sachs.
... Mitch McConnell ... will be certain to stop any Tea Party hillbillies from disrupting his chapter of the club (as he tried to stop Rand Paul in his own state's G.O.P. primary). McConnell's pets in his chamber's freshman G.O.P. class will instead be old-school conservatives like Dan Coats (of Indiana), Rob Portman (of Ohio) and, if he squeaks in, Pat Toomey (of Pennsylvania).... They can be counted on to execute an efficient distribution of corporate favors and pork after they make their latest swing through Capitol Hill's revolving door....
My only objection is: Will rank-and-file teabaggers even object? To some extent they want to return politics to the eighteenth century -- but I think what they really want are a few feel-good victories against the evil Kenyan socialist, or a few defeats that will spur the sense of grievance they so desperately crave. And they can be easily distracted by investigations (New Black Panthers! Climategate!). Do they even care about what they claim to care about, or do they just care about the fight? More to the point, if quite a few of them are like David Kirham -- and quite a few more of them daydream about being David Kirham, if not Larry Ellison -- aren't they going to root for deregulation and tax cuts for the rich? Matt Bai's article isn't about class and wealth. It's about how Kirkham reminds him of the Netrootsy liberals who helped bring the Democratic Party back into power in the last decade. He argues that this a new model for political activism, and that the Intetnet makes it go much faster than activist insurgencies in earlier eras. But he concludes that these insurgencies happen quickly and fade quickly, which means there'll probably be an even newer one (presumably Democratic) very soon. Frank Rich, for his part, thinks teabaggers are going to be disillusioned soon, and turn to the most famous tea-style rabble-rouser, a woman currently being mocked by Karl Rove:
... those Americans, like all the others on the short end of the 2008 crash, have reason to be mad as hell. And their numbers will surely grow once the Republican establishment's panacea of tax cuts proves as ineffectual at creating jobs, saving homes and cutting deficits as the half-measures of the Obama White House and the Democratic Congress. The tempest, however, will not be contained within the tiny Tea Party but will instead overrun the Republican Party itself, where Palin, with Murdoch and Beck at her back, waits in the wings to "take back America" not just from Obama but from the G.O.P. country club elites now mocking her. By then -- after another two years of political gridlock and economic sclerosis -- the equally disillusioned right and left may have a showdown that makes this election year look as benign as Woodstock.
But I think Rich and Bai are both off base. Teabaggers won't really be disillusioned. There isn't a bright line separating ultracorporatist GOP hacks and party-like-it's-1773 teabaggers -- teabaggers love the rich.(They make an exception only for the fat cats whose suckling at the government teat is highlighted by Fox News as "socialism.") In addition, the ultracorporatists will just stoke the rank-and-file's rage. They'll keep the 'baggers in the fold at least through 2012. They're practiced at this. They kept the religious right in the fold for decades, right? It's not that hard for them.
In today's column, Frank Rich lists actual and attempted acts of violence that seem to have been inspired by wingnut/tea party rage, including a planned attack on a charitable group known as the Tides Foundation, a frequent Glenn Beck target, and the stabbing of a Muslim cabdriver just as anger at the downtown Manhattan Islamic cultural center grew. The column is entitled "The Rage Won't End on Election Day"; Rich writes: Don't expect the extremism and violence in our politics to subside magically after Election Day -- no matter what the results. If Tea Party candidates triumph, they'll be emboldened. If they lose, the anger and bitterness will grow. The only development that can change this equation is a decisive rescue from our prolonged economic crisis. Not for the first time in history -- and not just American history -- fear itself is at the root of a rabid outbreak of populist rage against government, minorities and conspiratorial "elites." First of all, if tea party candidates triumph, they'll be emboldened and the anger and bitterness will grow. The anger and bitterness will grow because that's the way of the rage junkies of the right -- angry and bitter in defeat, angry and bitter in victory. They scoured the landscape looking for evil liberals and Democrats to hate (Ward Churchill! Eason Jordan!) when the GOP controlled the entre government -- why do we think they'll mellow out if they win one or both houses of Congress? Rage is the point -- they have a need to persuade themselves that the rage is about something sunstantive, like (at this moment) "constitutionalism," but the rage is the point. The rage will need to be sustained by the propagandists, because there'll be a presidential election to win in 2012. I don't know what happens then. I know, as I've said, that teabaggers and other Republicans aren't going to be able to get much of anything signed into law, because what they'll propose is so extreme that even this accommodationist president will veto it -- so they'll use those vetoes as a way to sustain teabag voter rage and frustration until the presidential election. At that point, who knows? I think we'll be in a lost economic decade, and I'm sure the wingnut policies that will then be able to be enacted without impediment won't improve matters, except for the rich. So maybe the rage can just sustain itself forever, as wingnut pols make life worse for ordinary citizens while blaming that standard-of-living decline on increasingly powerless Democrats and liberals, as well as any group of Others -- Muslims, Mexicans, whoever -- seem like convenient targets.
This post originally appeared at No More Mister Nice Blog. I think I understand where CNN's Rick Sanchez is coming from -- I didn't grow up with a lot of money and my parents never went past high school, and even though I got a degree from a fancy-schmancy Ivy League school, then wound up working media jobs (albeit unglamorous ones), I still worry about gaffes -- verbal, sartorial, cutlery-based, whatever -- that might "prove" I don't deserve to be in the presence of my betters. Sanchez clearly feels the same way -- though what the hell this has to do with Jon Stewart's Jewishness, I don't know. Sanchez, if you don't know, went on the satellite radio show of Pete Dominick and railed against Stewart and others in the media he feels are harmful to his career. Sanchez is obviously extremely sensitive about gaffes. He said of Stewart and his colleagues:
Here's what they do. This is the game they play. "I just picked on Fox News, because they just had a bold-faced [sic] lie about something -- damnit, that means I gotta find something on CNN. Oh, I know… wait, hold on, let me find, oh that Rick Sanchez, that little Puerto Rican guy. I'll make fun of him. Do you have anything." "Uh, yeah, last week, he mispronounced the word indutably or whatever." "Yeah, that's it, find me that and we'll do a whole 4-minute segment on how he mispronounced the word arithmetic."
So Sanchez (who's actually Cuban-American, and who reminded listeners at least twice on the show that he grew up not speaking English) is clearly sensitive about his command of the language. On the one hand, I get that. On the other hand, he's gone into a field that requires an ability to speak well. If you grew up poor and without a real bat or baseball, you still have to be able to hit a real ball if you want to get called up to the big leagues. Sanchez's anger against Stewart is class-based, and, again, he focuses on speech, among other issues: Anybody who's different than you are, anybody who's not form your frame of reference; anybody who doesn't look and sound exactly like the people that you sound [like] and grew up with. (Emphasis added.) After Sanchez said this, the host of the show said that Stewart should understand ethnic prejudice because he's Jewish. Sanchez scoffed at that notion, and lashed out in a way that could destroy his career:
Very powerless people… [snickers] He's such a minority, I mean, you know [sarcastically]… Please, what are you kidding? ... I'm telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they -- the people in this country who are Jewish -- are an oppressed minority? Yeah. [sarcastically]
The notion that Stewart singles out Sanchez's gaffes is nuts, because Stewart attacks the button-nosed Botoxed blonds of Fox (male and female) far more than he attacks Sanchez. If Sanchez thinks he's singled out for especially poor treatment, it's clearly because this insecurity eats away at him and distorts his reading of reality. If he thinks he's singled out by Stewart, he should talk to Megyn Kelly or Steve Doocy, whom Stewart absolutely hammers once or twice a week. But none of that justifies Sanchez's anti-Semitism in any way. Sanchez suggests in the interview that his chances at career advancement are limited:
First, Sanchez started out expressing an anecdote from his own experience, when someone who was "top brass" at CNN told Sanchez to his face that he saw Sanchez as "more as John Quinones," referring to the Hispanic ABC News reporter. Sanchez's example was an illustration that the problem of racism in the media business goes further than many expect, enveloping "not just the Right," but also "elite, Northeast establishment liberals" that "deep down, when they look at a guy like me, they see a guy automatically who belongs in the second tier, and not the top tier."
But how do you get from this to Jon Stewart? I don't think I've even known Stewart to make fun of John Quinones. Or Soledad O'Brien (well, maybe once). Or Elizabeth Vargas. (Though maybe that's because her husband is Jewish!) Maybe Stewart makes fun of Sanchez because, well, he thinks Sanchez himself is funny, as an individual. Though I think Stewart would have considered it even funnier if someone had tasered Steve Doocy. **** This rant reminds me a bit of Peggy Noonan's old argument that she went from salt-of-the-earth Kennedy fan to right-winger because the snooty attitudes of well-heeled liberals offended her in her college years -- as if ideas become bad because you don't like the people who believe in them. She's been playing that class card for a while -- even now, as a well-heeled pundit herself -- but at least she never went this far.
This post originally appeared at No More Mister Nice Blog. I understand the impulse of Kate Zernike of The New York Times to try to be scrupulous in talking about the teabaggers and Beckstock participants, but really now:
... It has become an article of faith among Tea Party groups that any racist signs at rallies -- "Go back to Kenya," directed at President Obama, is just one example -- are carried by Democratic plants sent in to make the Tea Party look bad.... Even if Tea Party members are right that any racist signs are those of mischief-makers, even if Glenn Beck had chosen any other Saturday to hold his rally, it would be hard to quiet the argument about the Tea Party and race.
(Emphasis added.) Just off the top of my head, it's simply not in dispute that a tea party leader wrote an astonishingly racist mock-letter to Abraham Lincoln on his website (and continues to represent the angry right all over the media despite his dismissal from the position he hel d when the letter appeared. The authenticity of this notice racist teabagger sign is simply no longer in dispute. And the tsunami of racist remarks uttered by Beckstock's guiding spirit in just one week last summer is a matter of public record. None of this makes it into Zernike's story. **** One more thought about this rally. I don't accept the notion that there's a battle for ownership of August 28. I don't think Dr. King and the organizers of the '63 March on Washington cared about ownership of the date, but, nevertheless, it's still theirs, for the simple reason that Beck has chosen to try to be an imitator. It's like asking whether the Woodstocks that took place in the 1990s would ever become more famous than the original Woodstock. Needless to say, I don't buy Beck's line about not knowing the significance of the date and site when he chose them. He chose them consciously -- but that means he chose a message of resentment ("We want our piece of your moral high ground!") over being, even by his own lights, a leading forging a new path. He wants the question of imitation to linger. He prefers to piggyback on dates -- 8/28, 9/12 as a piggyback on 9/11 -- so he can be attacked as a parasite, and then can feel aggrieved and spread that sense of grievance to his flock. That's too important to him. So he'll never "own" this date or any other. He'd rather feel picked on.
This post originally appeared at No More Mister Nice Blog. As far as wingnuts are concerned, none of their enemies act in good faith and all of them are pure evil. Those enemies are almost always Democrats and liberals -- but now the treatment is being extended to Lisa Murkowski, for daring to persist in her attempt to defeat the new saint of Wingnuttia, Joe Miller. Am I exagerrating when I say they're treating her the way they treat Democrats? Well, you judge -- they're now accusing her of planning electoral fraud (and the Nation Republican Senatorial Committee as well):
Joe Miller, currently the leader in Alaska's surprisingly competitive Republican Senate primary, accused the National Republican Senatorial Committee of "meddling" in the contest while charging that his opponent was trying to "pull an Al Franken." Speaking with Fox Business Network, Miller referred to reports that Murkowski had sought legal counsel from the national committee as the state prepares to count thousands of absentee ballots that could decide the race. "Frankly we're looking right now to make sure ... that the votes are accounted for fairly without any type of game play," he said. "[It] concerns us any time that somebody lawyers up and, you know, tries to pull an Al Franken if you will." ...
Wow, them's fightin' words. All of Wingnuttia thinks Franken stole his election. Miller echoes what Erick Erickson wrote yesterday:
Sources close to Miller, Palin, and external media sources all seem to think Murkowski can't make up the difference. But there is a problem. The absentee ballots will not be counted for a week or so. Already there are rumors of "found" ballots.
And today we have this from Erickson:
... I've just received a copy of a letter (PDF) from Miller's attorneys demanding the disqualification of Lisa Murkowski campaign observer Bonnie Jack.
The Alaska Division of Elections staff and Joe Miller's staff observed Ms. Jack using confidential voter information and then calling a voter based on that information. The Miller team wants Ms. Jack disqualified....
So: How soon before they start asking to see Murkowski's birth certificate? Or generate allegations that Murkowski benefited from fraud and intimidation at the polls by unsavory dark-skinned people? (There have to be six or seven blacks and Hispanics in Alaska, right?) And hey, look over there -- is that Saudi money in Murkowski's campaign coffers? **** Oh, and I almost missed this: Here's Limbaugh calling Murkowski a "ruling-class Republican." Yeah, yeah, I know -- you thought Limbaugh liked the ruling class. That's where you're wrong. He likes what you and I think ofas the ruling class. The stinking-rich people who own everything in this country aren't in Limbaugh's ruling class -- like Mr. and Mrs. Teabagger, they're just humble, innocent victims of evil politicians. Here's Limbaugh:
The ruling class in the Murkowski vote, they're going to find some missing ballots. I don't care whether it's Republicans or Democrats, they're going to find 'em. There are already rumors of found ballots. This is before they get to the absentees.... Found ballots, election fraud, what else is she gonna do? You can't build a bridge to nowhere if you're not in the Senate. Not that she had anything to do with it. I'm just speaking euphemistically....
Limbaugh's sainted Sarah Palin used to like the Bridge to Nowhere too, but never mind.
This originally appeared at No More Mister Nice Blog. Eric Boehlert asks:
When does Fox News' ugly Muslim bashing become the story?
Atrios thinks it's because other journalists are "generally pretty clueless about issues that any marginal group faces, due to race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or anything else."
When is the press going to acknowledge that the rules have changed, and these naked smear campaigns being launched by Fox News and the far-right press have no precedent in our politics and, more importantly, they're changing the way our news agenda is being set? ...
That may be true, but I don't think that's the problem. I think the problem is that the rest of the press just can't see the Foxsters for what they are. Other journalists look at the folks from Fox and think, "Hey, we're in the same business! We have the same work habits! We have the same insider lingo! We put up with the same crap covering the same stories!" Plus -- especially now -- no one wants to antagonize someone who might be useful in a future job search. So the rest of the press is never going to go after Fox. There's too much of a sense of tribal solidarity. And then there's this:
There [was] a very depressing story [yesterday] in The Washington Post about the lunatic racist Pamela Geller, who has been leading the crusade against the so-called Ground Zero mosque.... it was my impression that Geller was a marginal nutbag, but it seems as if she's setting the national agenda now on matters related to Islam and religious freedom....
The explanation for her newfound media success (even outside the confines of Fox) isn't exactly the same, but it's similar. You see, Geller's not just an insane blogger who posts 12,000-word rants questioning Barack Obama's parentage -- she's a go-getter who's managed to chat up and befriend influential people, people like John Bolton and the well-connected Robert Spencer. Her publisher is Mary Matalin. She's represented by the same speakers' bureau as Donna Brazile and Steve Wozniak and John Yoo. She used to be the associate publisher of The New York Observer, which covers Gotham media, finance, and real estate swells. See, to the mainstream press, it doesn't matter all that much what she says. What matters is that she's worked it. She's hustled to try to become a media star. To them, she isn't a hatemonger freak -- she's a hell of a self-promoter. They respect that. She's doing what a lot of journalists are trying to do. They all have a novel in the desk dream, or dreams of being a bestselling nonfiction writer like Jon Meacham or Walter Isaacson. So they probably get her. And now she has a president and an entire political party on the ropes. So she'll probably get more respect. She could be on the covers of Time and Newsweek soon. One month after launching a jaw-dropping campaign of racial discord and warning of a looming, Obama-led "race war," Fox News and the far-right media have turned the page of the hate hymnal and embraced a new enemy: Muslims....
This post first appeared on No More Mister Nice Blog. A Politico story today makes me think that someday in the not-too-distant future we'll look back on this moment and find it almost quaint that we thought the tea party movement was the be-all and end-all of GOP-affiliated right-wing extremism. The story suggests that there are some areas of extremism where many teabaggers don't want to go -- but there are plenty of other people willing to do what the 'baggers won't: ... [The] delicate balance between [the tea party movement's] narrow fiscal focus and a more generic form of conservatism is now being tested in congress by the white-hot fight over plans to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque in Lower Manhattan. ... most tea party groups -- including those in New York -- have officially sat on the sidelines... ... in interviews, a number of leading activists told POLITICO there hasn't been much discussion on tea party listervs and conference calls about the mosque. Most said flatly they don't consider the mosque a tea party issue, though several said they recognized the right of the mosque planners to build it, yet personally disagreed with New York City's decision to permit it. ... there is a movement-wide understanding that if activists want to take on such issues, they should try not to drag the tea party brand into it, according to Andrew Ian Dodge, who serves as the Maine state coordinator for the influential Tea Party Patriots umbrella group. "We don't tell people what they should say and shouldn’t say, but if it's not a tea party issue we prefer -- I think would be a polite way to put it -- that they don't do it under a tea party banner," said Dodge.... So the teabaggers are being the cautious wingnuts in this fight. They aren't willing to join in this crusade, or at least they aren't willing to put their movement's stamp on it. Ah, but don't worry -- a motley crew of demagogues and haters is more than willing to go even further than the suddenly restrained-seeming tea people: In June, the prominent political action committee Tea Party Express quietly began to distance itself from flame-throwing, anti-mosque radio host Mark Williams, replacing him as chairman partly because of his high profile opposition to the mosque. (He left the group entirely last month after his racially incendiary attack on the NAACP, which had recently passed a resolution expressing concern over racist elements in the tea party.) Williams said opposing the mosque "is one of the projects that I told the Tea Party Express that I wanted to focus on and it's not the focus of the Tea Party Express." ... The Louisiana-based Conservative Party USA, which has a plank in its platform opposing the planned mosque, recently elected Williams its president, he said, asserting it was attracting tea partiers looking for an outlet for anti-mosque activism. "I'm not telling tea partiers who aren't already outraged over this to leave the tea party over this, but those who are inclined to do so, there are outlets out there to oppose to this horrid temple to savagery." In fact, Liberty Central, a tea party-related group founded by Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is circulating a petition opposing the mosque and Ginni Thomas is set to speak at an anti-mosque rally on Sept. 11.... In the future, will we look back on the tea party movement and think that it was benign compared with what came afterward? Is the nadir yet to come, fueled by truly dangerous groups that stand for a lot of the craziness the teabaggers stand for, but go even further -- into open warfare with Islam, or into the worst religious right extremes? Of course, we saw an example of a three-fer recently, when Bryan Fischer of the tea-affiliated religious-right group the American Family Association declared that no permits for mosque-building should be granted anywhere in America, period. Ironically, the firebreak on all this could be the Murdoch media empire -- as I noted last week, Fox et al. may be giving a lot of play to the Cordoba House fight, but the Murdochites don't seem interested in going so far as to join the no-mosques-anywhere cause. Maybe Rupert and Roger will deprive the Even Crazier crowd of vital Fox News oxygen. On the other hand, by that time, especially if the economic crisis continues, the Even Craziers may be self-sustaining.
This post first appeared on No More Mister Nice Blog. I was going to bring up this New York Times story about the people behind the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero, but Adam Serwer beat me to it. I think I'd go further in my criticism of the story than Adam does, however:
The New York Times has a new piece up on Faisal Rauf and Daisy Khan, the couple behind the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero that has brought rank Islamophobia into the Republican mainstream:
Daisy Khan, who immigrated, also as a teenager, to Jericho, on Long Island, from Kashmir, married Imam Feisal in 1997. They founded a Sufi organization advocating melding Islamic observance with women's rights and modernity. After 9/11 they raised their profile, renaming the group the American Society for Muslim Advancement and focusing on connecting Muslims and wider American society. They spoke out against religious violence; the imam advised the F.B.I.; his wife joined the board of the 9/11 memorial and museum.
...The Times report, however, descends into a kind of "liberal" media known-nothingism when it comes to how this became a controversy, suggesting that "a combination of arguable naivete, public-relations missteps and a national political climate in which perhaps no preparation could have headed off controversy." This is a remarkable formula that manages to place the blame everywhere except where it belongs -- on a right-wing smear machine that went into overdrive in an effort to portray Rauf and Khan as terrorist sympathizers, an experience no one outside of contemporary partisan politics could have possibly been prepared for....
The additional point I'd make is that while the unquestionably moderate originators of this project might not have been able to anticipate just how vicious the scorched-earth right-wing campaign against the project would be, there's one institution that could have anticipated this -- the mainstream press, very much including The New York Times. The story Adam and I are quoting is actually a good one in many respects. Using facts, it conveys an impression of this project's organizers that's 180 degrees different from what you're getting out of the GOP noise machine. But the story should have run a couple of months ago. It was obvious as far back as May that the likes of Fox News, Peter King, members of the "professional right" such as Robert Spencer and Debra Burlingame, and various lesser-known rabble-rousers were working hard to turn this into a wedge issue then. Was it up to the project's leaders to correct all the misperceptions and disinformation? Didn't the non-right-wing press have a responsibility to help correct the record, as soon as this story began to rage out of control? I know I say this all the time. I know I'm asking far more of the press than it's been known to manage in recent decades. But the take-no-prisoners right is a malign force in American life right now. It spreads lies and poison. People in the media who believe in the press as a disseminator of truth have an obligation to actively recognize and counter zone-flooding right-wing smear campaigns like this one, and do it before it's too late to purge the poison from the body politic. In this instance, it probably is too late. And that means there'll be more such instances.
This originally appeared at No More Mister Nice Blog. I was wondering about this on Wednesday, and last night Rachel Maddow addressed the question: What are the righties doing in response to the gay marriage ruling? Her conclusion: their response has been surprisingly muted. And she's not sure why.

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... Did you notice any big press conferences today in Washington, anti-gay marriage Republicans inveighing against this marriage ban being overturned? No. Nothin'. ...Where's the Republican Party? Karl Rove, where are you? What happened to your gay marriage as your great wedge issue? Where's the Republican Party making political hay out of this to run on in November? ... Perhaps the most telling indicator of where Republicans are on this is that today the National Republican Senatorial Committee -- the committee to get Republicans elected to the Senate in this year's elections? -- they blasted out a mass e-mail ignoring the Prop 8 ruling, and instead railing against Obamacare, ignoring yesterday's giant favorite Republican wedge issue news in favor of old news that passed months ago. A state ban on gay marriage has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court for the first time in American history, and the crusading protectors of marriage in the Republican Party, who love to run on this issue, instead are hiding.
Maddow does acknowledge a few expressions of outrage (Gingrich, DeMint, Santorum) -- but there's been a hell of a lot less than you'd expect. (And by my favorite measure of calculated right-wing anger generation -- the front pages of the Drudge Report and Fox Nation -- this really isn't the big story right now. As I type this, Drudge's lede involves Putin, fer crissake.) So what's going on? Maddow's guest on this, Jonathan Alter, had a few theories:
The first one would be the conspiratorial theory, the stealth theory -- that they're waiting to trap President Obama into endorsing gay marriage, and then they'll pounce on him, all right? So that could be sort of one option. ...It's possible the tea party folks also see it as a distraction from what they consider to be their core mission of destroying President Obama. So, if they don't think that this is their best bet, according to their, you know, their calculation of bringing him down, then they'll save their ammo -- they like that word, "ammo" -- for other kinds of issues. And you have to remember, if you look into the DNA of this tea party movement, it was not started by social conservatives, but by libertarian economic conservatives.... They have quite a number of members who are, but that is not at the core of their movement, and they are driving things in the conservative wing of the Republican Party.
My feeling is that we're looking at a different kind of "stealth." A few days after Scott Brown won, an analysis I read -- I wish I could remember where -- gave a very sensible explanation for what happened. When Bible-thumpers visibly dominated the GOP (as during the entire era of Bible-thumper George W. Bush), moderate white suburbanites in the Northeast and West were lost to the party, because they hate the moralizing. But when Republicans stopped being associated with God-bothering, swing voters took another look. (Republicans who seem moderate do win in Massachusetts -- most governors in Massachusetts have been Republican in my lifetime -- but it's true that Bay Staters have been very blue in presidential and congressional elections until Brown came along.) In any case, I think the folks at GOP/Wingnut Central have sent out word that the response to this should be muted. I think Murdoch and Ailes know they shouldn't push it too hard. They want suburbanites to be swingable, or even radicalizable (the stereotypical teabagger is supposed to be a formerly apolitical person, or maybe even an ex-hippie turned quiet householder, who's now just horrified by all this socialism.) So, yeah, I think they're playing possum. The Christian right undercurrent is hiding in plain sight, however -- as Maddow noted in another story on last night's show, there's a lot of anti-abortion extremism among this year's crop of GOP Senate candidates (although can Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, and Colorado's Ken Buck be said to be more extreme than Tom Coburn, who's been in the Senate for a while and who has said abortion providers should be executed?). I think we'll hear what these people want on "values" issues right after the election -- but, for the most part, not until then. **** UPDATE: Over at Rumproast, Betty Cracker reminds us of another Republican who's awfully quiet on this issue:
Even Palin declined to tut-tut the destruction of the family when spoon-fed a line by Sean Hannity during her bizarre appearance on his show earlier this week. She claimed she hadn’t had time to read the ruling. Since when has ignorance ever stopped Palin from opining?
Betty thinks the president could actually deploy his nuanced/convoluted position on this issue, which is not unlike average Americans', and let right-wingers overextend themselves attacking him. I have my doubts about that. Much discussion follows.
This post first appeared on No More Mister Nice Blog. This may have no practical impact, but it's significant, and it's not going to be an isolated event: Missouri voters on Tuesday easily approved a measure aimed at nullifying the new federal health care law, becoming the first state in the nation where ordinary people made known their dismay over the issue at the ballot box.... Residents in Arizona and Oklahoma are expected to cast ballots this year on amendments to their Constitutions aimed at accomplishing the same idea.... That's from The New York Times, which arrives at an odd conclusion about the results: In the end, though, the referendum seemed not to capture the general population's attention. Instead, Republican primary voters (who had the most competitive races on Tuesday) appeared to play a crucial role in the vote's fate. Really? I'm looking at election results here and I can't help noticing that there were more "Yes" voters -- voters rejecting the health care mandate -- than there were voters for all the candidates in the top-of-the-ballot GOP race, the primary for a candidate to succeed Kit Bond in the U.S. Senate. The referendum vote was: Yes: 667,680 No: 271,102 The total number of votes cast for the nine candidates in the Republican Senate primary (which Roy Blunt easily won) was 577,612 -- 90,000 votes fewer than were cast against health care reform. Which suggests that anti-HCR voters were more motivated to vote in the referendum than to vote in the primary, that virtually all Republicans voted with the anti-HCR majority, and quite possibly that a fair number of Democratic primary voters joined them. The opposition to health care reform is Obama's other oil spill. He fought to pass the bill, but he did too little as the toxic, ill-informed anger against the bill spread. And now there's so much pollution in our discussion of this subject that we may never be able to clean it all up. (Via Memeorandum.) **** AND: I agree with Zandar: Yanking the mandate is the new gay marriage ban, and that was nothing but a winner for Republicans before for turnout. That's what I'm taking away from this now.