Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Moral and Intellectual Decline of the Right and GOP

The Republican party loves to wrap itself in religion and claim to be the party that really loves America, but then in the next breath its spokespersons launch into nasty tirades against anyone and everyone who isn't a far right leaning white Bible beating Christian. The actual Christian message of love and compassion towards others is utterly lacking from the equation. Moreover, the Party and folks like Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum are obsessed with forcing their generally extreme religious views on all of society. In their view, the U. S. Constitution applies only to themselves and gives them a license to persecute those who hold different views. Indeed, they denigrate those with other beliefs and opinions as the recent Rush Limbaugh circus has demonstrated so well. A quick perusal of AFA's or FRC's websites further confirms this truth. A column in the Washington Post reflects on the recent death of Andrew Breitbart who in some ways symbolized this phenomenon. Here are some highlights:

It is not nice to speak ill of the dead, my mother once told me. But it is okay, I think, to speak ill of those who praise the dead when the deceased was best known for sliming a well-intentioned and wholly commendable public servant or for exposing a politician who had already exposed himself. I am referring to Andrew Breitbart, whose passing was noted and mourned throughout the conservative firmament. His eulogies tell us more about the movement than they do about him.

Almost immediately, conservative commentators let out a wail signifying the passing of one of their own.
True, Breitbart was shockingly young, a mere 43, but then in those few years he had done much — a good deal of it revolting and some of it unethical or sloppy.

Breitbart reported that Shirley Sherrod, an Agriculture Department official of epic obscurity, had confessed to discriminating as an African American against whites. Breitbart had a tape of her remarks and he put it out there to a grateful nation. But the full tape — not the snippet he offered to the ravenous Internet — showed nothing of the sort. It was just the opposite, in fact. Breitbart had failed to check it out, he claimed. Why?

Every journalist knows the expression “too good to be true.” But for Breitbart, the Sherrod story was too good not to be true. It had to be true. She was exactly the kind of person that a left-wing, socialist, Muslim president like Barack Hussein Obama would like to appoint to high federal office. Call Breitbart’s tactics what you will, it wasn’t journalism.

James Q. Wilson also died last week. He was a scholar and a damned fine writer and also a conservative. . . . Wilson was my kind of conservative. He was ruled not by dogma or ideology but by common sense. He was of the same school of intellectuals who once wrote for Commentary or the Public Interest and National Review. . . . . The writers who created and wrote for these publications would never have abided rigid pledges about not raising taxes or wondering about evolution or rejecting global warming for ideological — not scientific — reasons.

The distance from Wilson to Breitbart is one way to measure how deeply lost the American conservative movement has become. The recent lineup of earnest fools who have proclaimed their readiness to rule the nation and the world was — and remains — a depressing and frightening sight. Imagine President Perry or Santorum or Bachmann or Palin or Gingrich. This horror is partially the product of a Republican intellectual and political establishment that has only one value: to win. The party’s hierarchy patronizes its own base. It will use its energy and grievances to regain power so that a select few can lead. It offers nothing by way of rebuke to religious figures, such as the astoundingly bigoted Franklin Graham, who dress their prejudice in the glad rags of piety.

Peggy Noonan writes that Andrew Breitbart had many charming qualities. I take her at her word. But it’s not a huge leap from Breitbart’s libel of Sherrod to Rush Limbaugh’s sliming of Sandra Fluke . . . . A public man should be judged by his public acts. And in Breitbart I can find nothing of value. He thought politics was like war. Wilson thought it was about ideas. That’s why you can only read about Breitbart. You can, however, always read Wilson.

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