I think I’m starting to see the next four years take shape here. It’s going to be Obama and the Adults vs. The Terrible Two Year-Olds.
First, you remember how wingnuts like to scream and stamp their feet over every vaguely liberal policy, merely because it’s “liberal”? Well, their new trick is going to be stamping their feet over liberal policies that exist only in their fertile imaginations:
Yesterday, we talked about the fact that there’s simply no interest at all in bringing the “fairness doctrine” back, and yet, it’s become something of an obsession among conservatives. TNR’s Marin Cogan had a great piece, highlighting the campaign against a non-existent initiative, and explaining, “The prospect of being in the opposition often brings out the worst in conservatives — paranoia and self-pity.”
Right on cue, Bill O’Reilly devoted two — count ‘em, two — parts of his Fox News program last night to denouncing the imaginary effort to bring back to the fairness doctrine. Jason Linkins noted the conversation between O’Reilly and Laura Ingraham on the subject, and on the same program, O’Reilly devoted his “talking points” segment to attacking non-existent Democratic efforts to bring the policy back. (As O’Reilly explains it, Speaker Pelosi wants “total control” over the media. There’s that paranoia again.)
Yglesias noted yesterday:
It’s very strange. Political movements mischaracterize the other side’s general goals all the time. But I’ve never heard of anything like the current conservative mania for blocking a particular legislative provision that nobody is trying to enact.
Exactly. Republicans tend to lie about legislation and policy ideas Democrats want to pass, not legislation and policy ideas they don’t care about.
That’s the thing about untreated paranoia: it may start with one toe dabbling in reality, but it ends up so far out they can’t see reality on a clear night with the Hubble Space Telescope. It’s either that, or, as one of Steve’s correspondents pointed out, they’ve realized they’re going to have a nearly impossible battle fighting liberal policies that the vast majority of voters support, so they’re going whole hog after liberal policies that could exist, in some alternate universe, so they can then pretend they won.
Their other stupid trick is going to be opposing actual liberal policies that are wildly popular simply because they’re wildly popular:
Pethokoukis and Cannon claim that if Obama succeeds in passing health care, then people who might have been conservatives will like it, and will be more likely to vote for the people who passed it. This is unexceptional. An honest conservative might accept this claim and say: well, I guess our ideas are unpopular, so we’ll just have to make our case more persuasively.
But that’s not the conclusion they draw. Pethokoukis and Cannon say: because people will like health care reform, if we do not block it, our party will lose support. So precisely because people would like it if they tried it, we need to make sure that it fails.
They share that stupid wingnut trick with the established churches. Their ideology doesn’t allow them to make course corrections, therefore, the only way they can possibly stay relevant is to keep people ignorant. It’s like masturbation: if people try it, they’ll find they like it, and all those hideous consequences authorities have warned about won’t come to pass, and your word is no longer law but bullshit. So, make sure people never try it.
I can’t wait for the next election season. I’m going to have a vast amount of fun going door-to-door chatting up undecided voters leaning Republicon. I can’t wait to hear why they’d consider voting for a party that tilts at windmills and refuses to give them wonderful things because then they might vote for the other guy.
The next four years could be an interesting experiment in determining just how much bullshit the typical American voter can swallow before they realize what they’re drinking.