Saturday, August 05, 2017

The GOP IS Now the Party of the Grotesque

I actually did not come up with the caption for this post.  It derives from arch conservative columnist and pundit George Will.  It reflects the reality that increasingly the Republican Party and its agenda have become something hideous.  Between the party's growing - and much more explicit  - racism and religious extremism and its growing desire to harm millions of citizens, I find it dumbfounding that  otherwise seemingly decent people continue to support the GOP.  Especially those who attend "liberal" religious denominations which outwardly support a social gospel message.  Donald Trump and many of his appointees embody the grotesqueness of the party - e.g., Betsy De Vos, Jeff Sessions, the list goes on and on.  Will uses Alabama's senatorial primary as a demonstration of the party's growing moral bankruptcy.  Here are highlights:
Southern Gothic is a literary genre and, occasionally, a political style that, like the genre, blends strangeness and irony. Consider the current primary campaign to pick the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions. It illuminates, however, not a regional peculiarity but a national perversity, that of the Republican Party.
In 1986, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III — the name belongs in a steamy bodice-ripper, beach-read novel about Confederate cavalry — was nominated for a federal judgeship. Democrats blocked him because they considered him racially “insensitive.” In 1996, he got even by getting elected to the Senate. Twenty years later, he was the first senator to endorse Donald Trump, who carried Alabama by 27.7 points. Sessions, the most beloved Alabaman who is not a football coach, became attorney general for Trump, who soon began denouncing Sessions as “beleaguered,” which Sessions was because Trump was ridiculing him as “weakbecause he followed Justice Department policy in recusing himself from the investigation of Russian involvement in Trump’s election.
 On Aug. 15, Alabama’s bewildered and conflicted Republicans will begin
 picking a Senate nominee. (If no one achieves 50 percent, there will be a Sept. 26 runoff between the top two.) Of the nine candidates, only three matter — Luther Strange, Roy Moore and Rep. Mo Brooks. Strange was Alabama’s attorney general until he was appointed by then-Gov. Robert Bentley to Sessions’s seat. Bentley subsequently resigned in the wake of several scandals that Strange’s office was investigating — or so Strange’s successor as attorney general suggests — when Bentley appointed him. The state Ethics Commission, which had scheduled an Aug. 2 hearing into charges of campaign finance violations by Strange, recently postponed the hearing until Aug. 16, the day after the first round of voting. Twice Moore has been removed as chief justice of the state Supreme Court. In 2003, removal was for defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court regarding religious displays in government buildings. Reelected, he was suspended last year for defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding same-sex marriages.
Yet Brooks is the focus of ferocious attacks on behalf of Strange, who ignores Moore. The attacks are financed by a Washington-based political action committee aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). This Washington Republican establishment strenuously tried but fortunately failed to defeat now-Sens. Marco Rubio and Ben Sasse, of Florida and Nebraska, respectively, in their 2010 and 2014 primaries. . . . .  The attacks stress some anti-Trump statements Brooks made while chairman of Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign in Alabama. For example, Brooks criticized Trump’s “serial adultery,” about which Trump has boasted.
Yet the PAC’s theme is that Brooks’s support of Trump is insufficiently ardent. Such ardor is becoming the party’s sovereign litmus test.
A runoff seems certain, and if Moore (sometimes called “the Ayatollah of Alabama”) is in it and wins, a Democrat could win the Dec. 12 general election.
“Anything that comes out of the South,” said writer Flannery O’Connor, a sometime exemplar of Southern Gothic, “is going to be called grotesque by the Northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.” But, realistically, Alabama’s primary says more about Republicans than about this region. A Michigan poll shows rocker-cum-rapper Kid Rock a strong potential Republican Senate candidate against incumbent Debbie Stabenow. 
Is this Northern Gothic? No, it is Republican Gothic, the grotesque becoming normal in a national party whose dishonest and, one hopes, futile assault on Brooks is shredding the remnants of its dignity.
 Alabama is truly more dysfunctional and insane than when I lived there over 30 years ago. The major cities seem to have modernized while the rest of the state has drifted back to the Jim Crow era. 

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