The Week in Conservatism

November 20th, 2010

Sorry to have been quiet for several days; we’re at a very busy time in the semester right now. But it’s been a pretty busy week for conservatives, too. So instead of ten posts, here’s an all-in-one.

This has been a pretty typical week for conservative politics–and yet we see more crazy crap in a one-week span now than we used to see in months way back when. like so much else in politics, the goal posts keep moving.

James O’Keefe is at it again. He started by releasing heavily-edited tapes of conversation with ACORN, eventually destroying the organization despite its being cleared of any wrongdoing, on the weight of faked controversy blared through the Fox News megaphone. Then he and his cohorts were arrested when they went to a Democratic senator’s office and falsely tried to pass themselves off as a telephone repair crew. They attempted to gain access to the senator’s telephone equipment closet–claiming, of course, that they never would have done anything improper once they got in to it. Then he tried to punk CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau because she was doing a documentary on young conservative activists he didn’t approve of; he planned to entice her to board a “pleasure boat” where he would make sexual advances and videotape everything.

So, what is O’Keefe up to this time? He wanted to embarrass another popular conservative target, the teacher’s unions. So he hired an attractive young man to approach 38-year-old New Jersey special-ed teacher Alissa Ploshnick, ply her with drinks, and use leading conversation to try to get her to say embarrassing things on tape so it could be heavily edited and used to discredit her and the unions. They were successful: in response to O’Keefe’s operative’s attempts to steer the conversation, she said it was hard to get a tenured teacher fired (that’s not exactly standard date talk), and gave an example of one teacher who had used the N-word. The edited tape was then made public, the teacher disgraced (she was suspended and lost thousands of dollars in salary), and Republican governor Chris Christie used to to attack the teacher’s unions in a fight to cut teacher salaries, benefits, and tenure.

But what stands out about this sordid smear is the target O’Keefe chose. Ploshnick was not just a random teacher, she is a hero in a very real sense. In 1997, a careening van threatened to run over a dozen schoolchildren; Ploshnick saved them:

Alissa Ploshnick risked her life to save the lives of a dozen Passaic schoolchildren. She threw herself in front of a careening van to protect her students and landed in the hospital with broken ribs, a fractured wrist, a badly bruised pelvis and glass cuts in her eyes. She could have died.

I can only assume O’Keefe will next target Captain Sullenberger in order to attack the pilot’s unions. That’s just the classy kind of guy he is.

Charles Murray, co-author of “The Bell Curve,” the arguably racist and thoroughly discredited book about intelligence, is at it again, once more earning his right-wing credentials. He insists that if you are not a NASCAR-loving, End-of-Days-fearing, game-show-watching American from a rural area who vacations in Branson, Missouri, then you’re exactly the kind of elitist snob that Glenn Beck and the Tea Partiers have been warning us about. You love to backpack in the Sierra Nevadas and gush about exquisite B&Bs overlooking Boothbay Harbor. You isolate yourself, marrying only your own kind, are hostile to anyone below your station, are completely apart from the mainstream America which you disdain, and are “ignorant about the lives of ordinary Americans.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t see liberals going around snubbing others for their lowbrow tastes. Stupidity, yes–believing Glenn Beck, voting against their interests, thinking Fox is balanced journalism, thinking Sarah Palin is presidential material. But that’s judging people by demonstrably poor judgment, and not for where they live, what religion they belong to, what sports they like, or what TV entertainment they enjoy. As many people with bad judgment live in cities as they do farmland, just as many smart and reasonable people live in rural areas as do in cities. As for backpacking in the Sierra Nevadas and gushing about exquisite B&Bs, that’s more hackneyed a stereotype than the drunk, wife-beating, pickup-driving redneck bigot.

The elitism that conservatives constantly whine about supposedly concerns arrogant people who look down on others because they believe themselves to be better than the ones they disdain. Well, guess what: conservatives have cornered that particular market. And Murray is simply exemplifying that in classic style. People like him and Palin go around telling conservatives that they are more patriotic, more hard-working, more deserving, and just plain better, that they’re the real Americans. Which is what elitism is all about–thinking you’re better than others because of who you are, not because of how you treat other people.

Incoming House Republican Andy Harris, who campaigned against government-run health care, throws a hissy-fit when he learns that he has to wait a whole month before his government-run Congressional health-care package kicks in. While running for office, he vowed to “lead the fight to abolish Obamacare.” Is it possible to get more hypocritical than that?

Republicans viciously attacked Obama’s auto industry bailout as “socialist” and accused him of “taking over” the auto industry, as if he were now controlling its every move. If so, then Obama is an economic genius: the industry is back on its feet, GM is now successful and profitable with a fantastic IPO, and due to the bailout, Obama saved 1.4 million jobs–and not burger-flipping jobs, but solid manufacturing jobs for the most part. That goddamned socialist! Well, Republicans laid it all on his door, blamed him for whatever it would bring–and now that it’s being paid back in full and the auto industry is taking off, they have switched to nothing but praise for Obama. </snark> Actually, they’re claiming it was a big coincidence and TARP had nothing to do with it. Seriously.

The people of Alaska liked Sarah Palin protogé Joe Miller and his ideas so much that they did something almost unheard of in American politics: they defeated the official candidate for a safe Senate seat with a write-in vote. Who said that people in rural America are dumb?

Sarah Palin, meanwhile, makes an overture to run for president in 2012–and conservatives in government and the media now seem to be mocking her, with Palin foe Murkowski, winning the “No Shit Sherlock” award for November, saying Palin just isn’t presidential material.

Michele Bachmann says that earmarks are bad except when they are transportation projects in the district of the politicians getting earmarks for them. Which, of course, are the classic definition of earmarks. In short: we get to be the anti-earmark heroes while bloating the budget with earmarks because when we do it, it’s legitimate and therefore not earmarks. Got that?

Republicans, clamoring for deficit reduction, refuse to say they would cut anything that would make a dent in the deficit, and instead demand that rich people get massive tax cuts again, and that is more important than middle-class tax cuts. Because they’re all about the little guy, and, as Rand Paul says, poor people and rich people are so intertwined that there’s really no difference between us. So, when do I get to live in the really nice house of that rich guy uptown, and drive his nice cars? Unless by “interconnected,” Rand Paul meant “in the thrall of.”

The GOP canceled a meeting with Obama because they didn’t like the idea he might upstage them:

The roots of the partisan standoff that led to the postponement of the bipartisan White House summit scheduled for Thursday date back to January, when President Barack Obama crashed a GOP meeting in Baltimore to deliver a humiliating rebuke of House Republicans.

Obama’s last-minute decision to address the House GOP retreat – and the one-sided televised presidential lecture many Republicans decried as a political ambush – has left a lingering distrust of Obama invitations and a wariness about accommodating every scheduling request emanating from the West Wing, aides tell POLITICO.

“He has a ways to go to rebuild the trust,” said a top Republican Hill staffer. “The Baltimore thing was unbelievable. There were [House Republicans] who only knew Obama was coming when they saw Secret Service guys scouting out the place.”

That’s what The Politico originally printed. Since then, they have rewritten the post without note of the revision–considered dishonest by Internet-reporting standards–and in so doing, removing some of the more outrageous claims by conservatives.

Josh Marshall had an excellent rundown of this. Obama did not crash, he was invited. He did not ambush, he was expected well in advance. Conservatives were, in fact, salivating at the opportunity to make Obama look bad, and Fox News broadcast the event–until Obama was doing so well they couldn’t bear it any more, and they cut away early. Obama came with his usual bipartisan outreach, complimenting the Republicans and trying to find common ground; the Republicans asked him sharply partisan questions, sounding like asses; and Obama handled the questions adroitly, making excellent points and sounding reasonable. That’s why Republicans hate him so much for it. They weren’t “ambushed” because they didn’t expect him to come. They were ambushed because they expected to humiliate him, and were shocked to find that this backfired when Obama was reasonable and rational, making the politically motivated Republicans look like dicks.

Speaking of which: Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, accuses NPR of “spouting propaganda,” saying, “They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism.” No wonder he hates Jon Stewart so much–Stewart spoke out against calling people “Nazis.”

McCain (2006): We shouldn’t stop DADT until the military leaders tell us to. Last year, the military leaders told us to.

McCain (2009): That’s not good enough. We need to study it. OK. Study it is. They did the study, and it supports the repeal of DADT.

McCain (2010): We shouldn’t depend on a study, we should depend on the military leaders and what they say. Um, we went over that already. The top military leaders support the repeal.

McCain (2010): We need a different study. We need a study on the effects of openly gay soldiers on morale and battle effectiveness. That’s exactly what they study was.

McCain: We need more study. Maybe some committee meetings and whatever else we can throw in the way. Now, uproot that goalpost and set it back another ten yards. That’s it.

As usual, Jon Stewart laid it out best:

Bush plagiarizes several passages from his memoirs:

Crown [Bush’s publisher] also got a mash-up of worn-out anecdotes from previously published memoirs written by his subordinates, from which Bush lifts quotes word for word, passing them off as his own recollections. He took equal license in lifting from nonfiction books about his presidency or newspaper or magazine articles from the time. Far from shedding light on how the president approached the crucial “decision points” of his presidency, the clip jobs illuminate something shallower and less surprising about Bush’s character: He’s too lazy to write his own memoir.

Why am I not surprised?

One thing the Republicans do right: distribute and follow their hollow and meaningless talking points. They sure know how to get everyone reading from the same page. And it makes for a bit of fun as Jon Stewart runs all the clips together in a bunch to expose how shallow it is. This week’s talking point: time to start having adult conversations. As if (a) they’re the adults, and (b) they really want to do that. It’s kind of like how they claim to be the bipartisan ones right before declaring scorched-earth campaigns when Obama gives them everything they want.

  1. November 20th, 2010 at 05:45 | #1

    “You’ve got no idea how much worse it gets”

    Spot on 😀

  2. Ken sensei
    November 20th, 2010 at 13:13 | #2

    Excuse me for asking, but if the military leaders are supportive of ending DADT and there is a study that gives shows it’s time to end it, why then has Obama not been successful in rescinding it?
    Isn’t his executive order enough to make it go away?

  3. Troy
    November 20th, 2010 at 13:36 | #3

    @Ken sensei

    Obama is the CiC but the Army is a creature of Congress and they’re the ones who set the regulations.

    But Truman desegregated the military in 1948 so there’s that.

    Obama has to walk on eggs here since Virginia, Florida, and perhaps NC are must-win states for him, and he can’t afford to piss off the military on this.

    The way politics are these days, doing what’s right isn’t easy. We’ve got several million GKs in this country with the shit trebuchets at the ready.

  4. stevetv
    November 21st, 2010 at 23:26 | #4

    “Obama is the CiC but the Army is a creature of Congress and they’re the ones who set the regulations.”

    Then Obama should have tried persuading Congress to rescind DADT long before the midterm elections, when they had a stronger majority. I mean, if it were a priority and all.

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