By Chez Pazienza: Can you feel that? Isn't it nice?
I may be a big fan of new experiences, but there's nothing quite like returning to your comfort zone, where every minute of every day unfolds a like warm blanket of soothing predictability. Sure, it was entertaining and even, for the briefest of moments, somewhat encouraging to see the Republicans humbly soul-search following the trouncing they received at the polls last week. For a couple of days it seemed like all you heard was a steady stream of self-recrimination and conciliatory language coming from the right. Even as the usual apocalyptic raving and blustery doubling-down on the politics of division and eliminationism went on unabated, for the first time in a very long time these voices were uncharacteristically outnumbered by people at least trying to behave calmly and rationally. Just about everyone of every political stripe was apparently ready to acknowledge that the GOP had lost its way and its historic comeuppance was proof of its lack of viability in a changing America. November 6th was a date with demographic destiny the right shouldn't have been able to forget.
But hey, that was last week. This week, everything's back to normal.
Surely by now you've heard that rather than going away quietly and consequently aligning himself with the losers of elections past who've comported themselves with dignity and class, Mitt Romney is basically confirming for us all in grand fashion the fact that we dodged a serious bullet by not electing him president. In some ways I guess we can be thankful. Yesterday, on a conference call with several of the big money donors to his failed campaign, Romney once again expressed disbelief that he's not right now at this very moment putting together a transition team to help usher him into the Oval Office come January. He still can't understand why he didn't win -- although the best reason he can come up with might prove that he'll never really understand. While talking to those donors, Romney blamed his loss on the "gifts" President Obama was willing to give out to minorities, women and students in an effort to win their vote.
"The Obama campaign was following the old playbook of giving a lot of stuff to groups that they hoped they could get to vote for them and be motivated to go out to the polls, specifically the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people."
If this sounds contemptuously plutocratic, a 180-degree turn from the 180-degree turn he pulled toward the end of his campaign when he tried to disavow his infamous "47%" comments, believe me -- it is. With nothing left to lose or gain, the real Romney once again reveals himself, and it's not pretty. Still, it was to be expected because while Romney admittedly speaks from a rarefied position when it comes to the ability to sociopathically look down one's nose at the teeming unwashed and their pathetic needs, he didn't say anything yesterday that guys like the sulking, bitter Bill O'Reilly and the bloated, loudmouthed Rush Limbaugh weren't saying last week. They were simply balanced, for a change, with introspection from those who realize that disenfranchising half the population -- calling them lazy, irresponsible freeloaders -- is no way to win a national election.
The voices of reason were probably never going to last but as with 2008 it's almost shocking the speed with which so many Republicans have returned to a place of outrage and conspiracy, spouting the familiar shibboleths that got them into the mess they're currently in.
First of all, Fox News, which many expected to at least temper its lunacy for a bit in the interest of trying to move the political party it shills for forward, has jumped fully back into fanciful fear-mongering mode. Not only has it latched onto Romney's comments as a means of pushing its own version of the bullshit "makers-vs.-takers" meme, but it's proving that it's still willing to give a national forum to any idiot with a theory about President Obama sure to stoke the terrors and resentments of its aging white audience. Yesterday alone, a former CIA operative appeared on Fox to make the claim that Obama is "encouraging radicals to act against America's allies," and of course it practically goes without saying that it's been willing to lend legitimacy to the temper tantrum currently being thrown by a handful of breathtakingly stupid secessionists in the wake of the Obama victory (what Hannity has personally dubbed "Secession Fever").
Yeah, if you thought Fox News was going to calm the fuck down even for a little while -- man, did you back the wrong horse. What's interesting, though, is that for Ailes and Fox News, the decision to continue throwing gasoline on the fires of white fury is strictly a business one. There was, again, a lot of hemming and hawing last week about how conservative media did such a disservice to its audience by reinforcing the epistemic information bubble most of it lives in in the lead-up to the election. But there's money in blowing that bubble up once again, this time potentially even bigger and stronger, and that's got to be the primary consideration. Fox News has never been more powerful than when it's the blaring voice of opposition. The last four years have been a boon to it and I doubt the next four will be any different.
As for the kind of conspiratorial fanaticism we can count on over the next leg of the Obama presidency and now that our brief moment of sanity has passed, well, meet the new birtherism: the election was stolen. Sure, there's zero evidence whatsoever of any kind of voter fraud -- although there's plenty proof of official and under-the-table GOP voter suppression and intimidation leading up to the election -- but since when has that stopped the most unhinged on the right? Still holding on tightly to the alternative reality it was fed by conservative media, those who believe that there's simply no way Obama could have won again are convinced he didn't, that a dastardly plot by urban voters and their enablers rigged the game. Again, no evidence, but who needs it when you've got unfocused, white-hot rage, suspicion and the absolute faith that you're right?
So, yeah, secessionists, racists, cries for impeachment, threats of violence, conspiracies everywhere, four years of absolute chaos as a once-respectable political movement gruesomely death-spasms its way inexorably down the road to oblivion.
It's good to have things back to normal on the right.