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January 6th, 2008

The Myth Of “Electability”

Just so this is  clear, if isn’t already, whoever the democratic candidate is this November, I’m almost certainly voting for them.  I’ve basically been a yellow dog democrat ever since Connie Morella, an ersatz moderate republican from Montgomery County Maryland voted for the Defense of Marriage Act.  That was when I learned that there is no such thing as a moderate republican.  So whoever wins the democratic nomination…unless they do something really crazy and nominate Lyndon LaRouche or Mike Huckabee…I’ll be voting for them.  I can’t say there’s a lot of them I like…and yes, yes, they’re mostly pretty lame on gay rights issues, and in particular on same sex marriage…but I have been convinced, ever since Connie Morella whined for the newspapers that same sex marriage was "too much"  and "like the world turning upside down", that the only way gay people will ever achieve equality in America, is when the republicans are too weak to oppose it effectively. 

What I’ve learned since George Bush was installed in the white house by a republican supreme court, is that it isn’t only homosexuals the republican party hates.  They hate our democracy at least as much if not more then they hate gay people.  The tut, tutting of the republican cocktail party set as to how they’re really all a very socially tolerant bunch they only want their tax breaks and deregulation is a pathetic charade next to the passionate vitriol of the grassroots, who are screaming for theocracy.  Witness the horror of the republican establishment over Mike Huckabee. 

Huckabee’s Rise Drives Wedge Between Wall Street, Evangelicals

Wealthy Republicans have a new political nightmare that may be scarier than Hillary Clinton: Mike Huckabee.

The former Arkansas governor has surged in Republican presidential-preference polls, winning the support of Christian fundamentalists while peppering his campaign rhetoric with jabs at the financial industry. He calls himself the candidate who isn’t a “wholly owned subsidiary” of investment banks, decries large executive-pay packages and says the party needs to shift its focus from Wall Street to Main Street.

In doing so, he threatens the uneasy if effective coalition Republicans have counted on for three decades: abortion opponents and other social-issue activists supplying foot soldiers, proponents of tax cuts and business-friendly regulatory policies putting up the money and getting the biggest economic benefits.

"Huckabee puts this long-simmering feud between the social-conservative wing and the country-club and business crowd into starker contrast," said Stuart Rothenberg, publisher of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report in Washington.

Huckabee was asked on TV after running his Christmas ad, with it’s glowing cross resting on his shoulder as though he was annointed by Jesus Christ himself…

…if he was running to be president of all America, or president of Christian America.  Of course he made noises about being president of all the people…even the aberrant homosexuals.  But there’s no doubt about him.  He is a republican to the bone.  But what you have to understand is that so are his horrified cocktail party circuit critics.

Via Sadly No, here’s the cocktail lounge drunk named Vodka Pundit on Huck’s win in Iowa

Dear Iowa Republicans,

I’ll put this in language even your tiny little Iowa brains can understand: What the f*** is wrong with you people?

The news coming out of Des Moines (literally, French for “tell me about the rabbits, George”) tonight is distressing in the extreme. 32 years ago, your Democratic brethren took one look at Jimmy Carter — the worst 20th Century President bar Nixon, and the worst ex-President ever — and declared, “That’s our man!”

Three decades later, and along comes Mike Huckabee. Same moral pretentiousness, same gullibility on foreign affairs, only-slightly-less toothy idiot’s grin. Then you so-called Republicans took a look at Carter’s clone and said, “That’s our man, too!”

And by a pretty wide margin. […]

Mike Huckabee? Really? We’ve seen this game before, and its name is… every other single stupid, un-winnable candidate you’ve ever picked — which is most of them.

So I repeat the question: What is wrong with you people?

All my love, you corn-sucking idiots,

VodkaPundit

He’s since taken that post down.  Never let the vodka do your talking for you, eh?  But as Brad at Sadly No says, Feel The Love

Yes.  Feel it.  There’s the face of the republican party both these men share, right there.  There is it’s "base"  It isn’t fundamentalism.  It’s Hate.  Sometimes, that snarling pack of wolves turns on each other for a while, but never, Never mistake that as the party tearing itself apart.  That’s how it gets stronger.  Ever since Goldwater, excepting Ford and, maybe, Dole, the one who wins the republican nomination, is the one with the most ruthless machine.  These pack fights the republicans go through during the primaries, are merely the warm up to the general election, when the one still left standing, the most vicious one, turns from the internal battle, and looks out at America.

To the degree that the defining characteristics of fundamentalism aren’t so much its piety as its loathings, its resentments, and its sullen sense of entitlement, Huckabee is certainly playing to the fundamentalists.  To the degree that fundamentalist theocracies are nothing more at heart then degenerate oligarchies that claim God’s authority more brazenly and less sincerely then any king that ever lived, then yes, what they want is theocracy.   But don’t mistake Huckabee’s support as being a religious movement, any more then the CEOs pouring millions into republican coffers in exchange for billions in tax dollars is a religious movement.  These two sides of the republican party coalition are more in tune with each other then people think.  They both hate American democracy.  They both think the American dream of liberty and justice for all is an obscene joke.  They both want to rape America to lifelessness: the one out of hate toward the hoi polli; the other out of hate for humanity. 

Hate is their motive, and hate is their practice.  For decades now, ever since Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, and southern democrats began fleeing to the republican party, that party has been doggedly remaking itself from a co-governing institution into a movement that seeks nothing more then power, at any cost, by any means necessary, and to hell with the consequences for America.  As Garrison Keillor pointedly observed after the 2000 election debacle, they are republicans first, and Americans second.  Actually, I don’t think they regard themselves as Americans in the sense Keillor means that word, as a national identity we all share.  Modern movement conservative republicans believe that America belongs exclusively to them…the rest of us just work here.  Liberals… Democrats… Progressives…  Gays…  Uppity women…  Uppity Negros…  Trade Unionists…  Urbanites…  Intellectuals…  Christians in deed as well as word…  The working stiff holding down two jobs to pay the rent…  The successful entrepreneur who wants everyone to have their own piece of the American Dream too…  As far as the republicans are concerned, we are all illegal aliens.

For those of us who’ve been seeing that clearly since 2000, it makes the beltway pundocracy’s swooning over the virtues of "bipartisanship" particularly galling.  Bipartisanship in the Bush era, is giving the republicans what they want.  Here Glenn Sargent explains:

By now, you’ve probably heard that Michael Bloomberg and a bunch of retired politicians are going to hold a summit at the University of Oklahoma this week to talk about how desperately the nation needs a nonpartisan and independent leader like, you know, him to come in and lead the nation out of partisan gridlock.

This story, fittingly, was first leaked to The Washington Post‘s David Broder, a St. Paul-like figure who has long preached the virtues of the Beltway Gospel of Bipartisanship high and low across the land. Predictably, this planned gathering is already garnering the sort of awed and respectful coverage that greeted the formation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group nearly two years ago.

So here’s the question: When these bearded elders descend on Oklahoma later this week, will anyone ask them what policies they stand for, beyond "breaking partisan gridlock"? Will anyone ask them where they stand on the issues? Will anyone ask why we’re supposed to believe that their actual stances have any chance of creating "bipartisan unity" at all?

These questions are kind of relevant. Partisan gridlock happens because people — and by extension, political parties — disagree about stuff. One party wants to do one thing on a particular issue. Another party says No. The first party offers a few concessions. The second party still says No. That’s where "partisan gridlock" comes from — underlying disagreement on issues — and in our current case, the fault for our "partisan gridlock" isn’t equally distributed between the two parties. Rather, it’s almost exclusively the fault of the Republicans.

You aren’t allowed to say this, but it’s true. If you don’t believe me, ask the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. They proposed a bunch of solutions to Iraq. The Democrats largely embraced these solutions. The Republicans, by contrast, didn’t. As a result, the ISG’s proposals didn’t happen — even though they had been authored by a distinguished bipartisan panel. The Republicans have been the near-exclusive cause of gridlock on multiple other issues, too — issues upon which there is already majority agreement on how to proceed. In reality, the best way to end partisan gridlock is to further weaken the Republican Party, which is tying government in knots and preventing it from carrying out the will of the majority on a host of fronts.

This is how the republicans have managed to govern even when they were out of power, with democrats shuffling along to their tune out of a sense of national unity and co-operation that has been hopelessly naive, if not utterly reckless for decades.  While democrats have been searching for peace in our time, the republicans have been waging all out political war on our precious democracy.

And that makes questions of any democratic candidate’s "electability" moot.  Glenn Greenwald lays it out Here:

There’s a prevailing sense that Obama is not as offensive to the right-wing GOP faction as other Democratic and liberal candidates in the past have been, or that he’s less "divisive" among them than Hillary. And that’s true: for now, while he tries to take down the individual who has long provoked the most intense hatred — literally — among the Right. But anyone who doesn’t think that that’s all going to change instantaneously if Obama is the nominee hasn’t been watching how this faction operates over the last 20 years. Hatred is their fuel. Just look at the bottomless personal animus they managed to generate over an anemic, mundane, inoffensive figure like John Kerry. At their Convention, they waved signs with band-aids mocking his purple hearts while cheering on two combat-avoiders.

There will be more than enough of that intense hatred to go around if Obama is the nominee. For now, most of the racial commentary about Obama’s candidacy on the Right is confined to the sort of cringe-inducing, painfully condescending self-congratulations of the type Bill Bennett spat out on CNN Thursday night:

Barack Hussein Obama, a black man, wins this for the Democrats.

I have been watching him. I watched him on "Meet the Press," I’ve watched him on [Anderson Cooper’s] show, watched him on all the CNN shows — he never brings race into it. He never plays the race card.

Talk about the black community — he has taught the black community you don’t have to act like Jesse Jackson, you don’t have to act like Al Sharpton. You can talk about the issues. Great dignity. And this is a breakthrough. And good for the people of Iowa.

But if Obama is really the nominee, and is the one standing in the way between the Right and ongoing control of the Government, the idea that there’s going to be civility and respect is pure delusion. Rush Limbaugh’s continuous race-based mockery of Obama and the types of "warnings" issued here by Goldberg and Reynolds of the social unrest "Obama supporters" will cause is but the tip of the rancid iceberg [just the other day, Reynolds promoted a post warning that an Obama win (like a Huckabee win) will mean "the jihadis will not have done too badly"]. From a Free Republic posting after Obama’s Iowa victory:

Is Hussein Obama the weakest Dem for the General election?

By sending forth Hussein Osama out of Iowa, Democrats have unwittingly weakened their general election prospects.

Hussein’s exotic mixture of radical liberalism, Kwanzaa Socialism, antipathy towards the unborn, and weakness against his jihadi brethren will all come back to destroy him against almost any Republican opponent, even the snake-grope from Hope. . . .

As defenders of this great Republic, and of the pinnacle of Western civilization that it represents, we should all come together tonight and agree on a common strategy that will keep the White House from becoming a madrassa.

As Andrew White, who also posted that Free Republic piece, wrote: "If Obama continues and becomes the presumptive Democratic nominee (and his chances got a lot better last night) it is going to get ugly. Real ugly." It would be just as ugly with Clinton or Edwards as the nominee, but that’s the point. Scare tactics and fear-mongering are all the Right knows, and their whole electoral strategy since Richard Nixon has been grounded in culturally tribalistic and racial appeals. The kind of subtle bile pouring forth from Limbaugh, and from Goldberg and Reynolds last night, is just a tiny preview of what is to come.

The fact is that the democrats could nominate Jesus Christ and two weeks into the campaign the Washington Post’s editorial page would be asking why he isn’t being candid with the voters about his horns, cloven hoofs and tail.

Which makes it tempting to simply vote for the candidate who pisses them off the most.  Hey…why not Hillery…they just Hate Hillery…  But that’s letting your anger do your thinking for you, and what we need to do is let our anger Inform our thinking, but not substitute for it.  Whether or not a particular candidate pisses our enemies off isn’t important.  What’s important is that they fight back.  Thats what we should be looking for in our candidate.  What’s important is that they’ll take the fight to the republicans.  What’s important, is that they’ll swing right back every time the republican slime machine attacks, and keep right on swinging, Hard and Fast and Furious, no matter how loudly the republican corporate news media accuses them of “partisanship”, “negativism” and “political warfare”.  What’s important is that they grab the other side by the throat and kick it in the ass, and keep on kicking it in the ass all through the election, and from one end of their term in office to the other, until the opposition either stops swinging and starts acting like civilized human beings again, or it can’t swing anymore, whichever comes first.

To which the Andrew Sullivan’s and Glenn Reynolds will say that all we democrats and liberals are interested in is waging a political war, rather then finding solutions to American’s problems.  And the only proper response to that is: Kiss My Ass.  No decent person goes looking for a knife fight.  But the fact is we Are in a knife fight with the republicans.  The fact is that America Has been in a knife fight with the republicans for decades now.  And you don’t bring a handshake to a knife fight.

 

One Response to “The Myth Of “Electability””

  1. Peterson Toscano Says:

    I think we need to go shallower than ever and consider the delectability of a candidate. I mean, if they are not yummy, why bother.
     Good post.

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