Apparently the Stupid Haters Club had their annual convention this past weekend. At least that’s what Charles Blow thinks:
I never know how to set my expectations for the Conservative Political Action Conference, also known as CPAC.
I try to approach it with as much of an open mind as I can muster, understanding that I am at odds, fundamentally, with many conservative principles and conservatives’ views about the role, size and scope of government, but also realizing that apart from a debate setting, this may be the best place to take the temperature of, and hear from, the broadest range of conservative leaders.
I still think, perhaps naïvely so, that people can be ideologically opposed but intellectually engaged, that a good idea makes the best bridge.
So I do my best to follow the speeches — from afar (thank you, live streaming!) — and wait to hear something that jolts my consciousness or challenges my sense of things.
But once again this year, I was disappointed.
There remains in the Republican Party, as evidenced by the speakers at this event, a breathtaking narrowness of vision and deficit of creative thought.
The confab, for the most part, felt to me like a revelry of contrarians. Rather than presenting the party as one with a plan, many of the speakers seemed determined to cement it as the party of resistance and opposition.
Where were the grand conservative thinkers? Where was the philosophical heft? Where was the vision of a future not built on a transporting to the past?
It was largely absent. In its place was too much rhetoric about defending, defeating, defunding, deauthorizing. There was so much anti-Obama and anti-Hillary obsessing that the “pro” alternatives — to the extent that a case could be made — were obscured.
First of all, CPAC isn’t technically a Republican event, anymore than Netroots is a Democratic party function. But most of the attendees outside of the media were indeed Republicans. As for the narrowness of vision, duh!
It is a gathering of CONSERVATIVES! You don’t go there expecting to see the latest expecting to hear progressive ideas. By it’s very nature, small government conservatism does not generally go for big ideas. Conservatism is resistant to (but not opposed to) change.
But wait! There’s more!
This is where the Republican Party continues to falter. The cavalcade of contra nothingness at CPAC barreled forward with more speakers who lacked vision and brio.
I guess one could make the argument that if the Republican pool of candidates is wide but shallow, that’s good for Democrats. Indeed, it is.
Republicans have done exceedingly well in the recent midterms — in part because of anti-Obama Tea Party animus in 2010 and the fact that voter turnout for the 2014 midterms was the lowest of any election cycle since World War II. But presidential election years are a different story: They are national elections with a different electoral profile and greater participation.
And nationally, the Republican brand remains tarnished.
A Pew Research Center report released last week found that “majorities say the Democratic Party is open and tolerant, cares about the middle class and is not ‘too extreme.’ By contrast, most Americans see the G.O.P. lacking in tolerance and empathy for the middle class, and half view it as too extreme.”
If the only things you knew about me were what my ex-wife told you, then you probably wouldn’t like me. I know I wouldn’t. On the other hand on several occasions I met people my ex-wife had talked to and they said “Wow, you’re not what I expected at all.”
The media loves narratives. One of those narratives they love so much is that the GOP is the party of angry, stupid bigots. Some people fall for that narrative hook, line and sinker.
No, the fighters against Fox extend beyond the usual suspects. It includes anyone who has to sit with brain dead relatives at dinner who have become mean spirited, crotchety, vile, bigots robotically spitting ultra-conservative nonsense in a garbled illogical word salad. Those people go out and vote, because they’re angry, and they don’t sound like they know what they’re supposed to be angry about. Nothing they say makes any damn sense. And it’s very difficult to want to be around them because they behave as if they’ve had a lobotomy. You can’t construct a logical argument with people who have had conditioned responses and thought-stopping reactions to anything you say. Seriously, they can contradict themselves several times in the same sentence and never even realize it. They are operating in pure fearful, emotional, enraged mode, thinking there is a child molester behind the potted plants and that the Muslims are going to kill them in their beds while they unknowingly support the most regressive economic theories the conservative right has to offer because God, or something.
The John Birch Society ain’t got nothing on Bill O’Reilly and Fox News. John Birch was fringe until Fox came along. And Bill has a single talent. He is extremely effective at turning perfectly ordinary people into obnoxious right wing Archie Bunker types who actively celebrate their willful ignorance and call themselves holy. That is a gift to the ultra wealthy. The rich and powerful will fight tooth and nail to protect Bill O’Reilly. He is their golden goose. His distortions and ability to provoke irrational anger keeps his audience in a state of poised suspension, ready to hurl themselves like zombies at the first fresh brains O’Reilly shakes in front of them. As informed citizens, they’re useless to the rest of us and, in most cases, actively harm their families and friends by their inability to see when they’ve been flimflammed. It’s pure gold to the small evil group that runs the world and to whom no one we know belongs.
The true Fox News watcher will joyfully accept their role as a minion to the corrupt. They will tell you that there is nothing you can do to change a corrupt system except pray for the second coming. How this justifies joining the army of corruption, I’ll never understand, unless it is to bask in the glory of being on the side of the powerful, especially those corrupt powerful who masquerade as godly. It sort of reminds me of the people who are flocking to the middle east to join ISIS. We all know ISIS is brutal, totalitarian and mindless but some people are attracted to that. Fox News only beheads people metaphorically. Its enemies still suffer the same fate, and the meanness, misogyny and cruelty is still there, but there’s less blood.
Oh sure, things were different when the typical Fox News view was younger. People were more helpful, there was a real sense of community, labor was stronger and public education was better and well funded. But they seem incapable of figuring out how we got to this place where we have gone back to the economic conditions that lead to the Great Depression. They do not see the role of Fox News in the process.
And that’s just the way Fox likes it. So, no need to draw further attention to itself. Defending Bill is just going to make it look like it needs to defend Bill and that’s not the kind of face Fox wants to present to the world. That shows a sense of vulnerability. The Fox News viewer doesn’t want to feel vulnerable. Fox wants to look impregnable, a mighty fortress against the commie left even if it’s more like a prison for the gullible.
Ok, we all know it. There are things we can not change in this world. So we must continually chant the serenity prayer as we watch Fox, and media like it, tear the fabric of our country apart. There’s nothing we can do about Fox News and it’s ability to lie, distort, mislead and destroy. We can only wait until the vulnerable reduce in numbers and the younger, less religiously motivated internet era demographic matures. Fox News will just become another niche channel for the unhinged. Then we will start the long, hard slog to recovery, reversing all the crap it has flung at us.
If you were a reporter covering the annual meetings of Netroots, NOW, NAACP, NARAL or any of the other left-of-center advocacy/activist groups made up primarily of Democrats and all you wrote about were the most extreme elements and the gaffes that were made, you could easily convince people who were LIV’s that the groups were filled with idiots and nutjobs. Or you could focus only on the best parts.
For many years our “mainstream” media has been moving farther and farther to the left. As they have done so they have tended to demonize conservatives and the GOP while covering for and promoting progressives and Democrats.
Judging by what Charles Blow says CPAC was an ugly event. Judging by what I’ve read from people who were actually there it was a lot of fun.
I miss the days when two (or more) people could argue politics over beers and still like and respect each other.