September 22, 2008

Are GOP partisans as dumb as they seem?

My answer to this query is “€œat least as dumb as turkeys, the mouths of which have to be shut when it rains, lest they swallow too much water and drown.”€ How else does one explain the continued enthusiasm shown by conservative-GOP activists for the “€œconservative”€ McCain-Palin ticket? Although for years conservatives of all stripes have griped about John McCain as an advocate of affirmative action, amnesty for illegals, and questionable campaign-finance reform, McCain was absolved of these sins, first by running, as the last Republican presidential candidate standing, against the “€œradical”€ Obama and then by nominating “€œone of ours,”€ Sarah Palin as his running mate. The Palin factor, as one conservative acquaintance has insisted in conversations with me, restored goodness to the GOP, for as an Alaska sportswoman and mother of five, she is “€œthe real thing.”€ Even better, “€œliberals hate her.”€ Of course liberals loathed LBJ as well as Palin, and they were right to do so, if not for necessarily good reasons.

To give my worst personal enemy his due, David Frum was correct to question Palin’s independence of judgment when McCain pulled her out of Alaskan obscurity and made her his vice-presidential pick. Frum then wondered aloud about her views on immigration. And now we know what they are from reading and listening to McCain-Palin ads in Spanish, and particularly from an egregious “€œHijos de Dios”€ ad that has been aired all over the American Southwest. This ad draws on McCain’s acceptance speech at the GOP convention and dwells on the GOP presidential candidate’s view of illegals as “€œGod’s children.”€ In a nutshell, McCain and presumably his running mate hold the same views on illegals as do Hillary and Obama. In fact their ad targets the Democratic Congress specifically for not joining McCain and other liberal Republicans soon enough to regularize the illegals already in the US. It may indicate the utter contempt felt by McCain’s staff for their “€œconservative”€ friends that they would run such ads while at the same time pretending that their candidate was accommodating his non-liberal backers. As for Palin, there is nothing she has said that is not mere puffery on behalf of her boss.

The one exception may be her recent enthusiastic support for feminist positions, including her call to extend Title Nine from sports activities into all kinds of job situations in which women are not proportionately represented. Not only does Palin praise Title Nine for “€œmaking me what I am,”€ a onetime high school basketball player. She now “€œadvocates creating more legislation like Title Nine to make sure women have equality in the workplace.”€  One need only imagine how her enthusiasts would be screaming bloody murder if Sarah’s newly discovered heroine, Hillary, were the politician taking this stand.

My friend Ilana Mercer has documented on how far the GOP has gone in quietly endorsing racial and other quotas in California education. If Californians in a recent referendum voted to remove such quotas, neither the GOP nor its presidential candidate ever lifted a finger to support this effort. As Ilana shows, Republican leaders, including Bush and McCain, have generally leaned in the direction of quotas while signaling the opposite to their gullible flock. Ilana’s evidence of GOP duplicity is what necessarily comes from the party of used car dealers and funeral directors. But I do not agree with the late Sam Francis that the GOP is the “€œstupid party,”€ in terms of those who run it and determine its presidential candidates.

The problem is its constituents, who are not really looking for principle or honesty from those fill their brains with sound bites. GOP voters simply do not expect their presidential candidates to treat them as adults or even as emotionally developed adolescents. The Southern whites who revere the Confederate Stars and Bars fervently back McCain, although in primaries McCain made a point of calling for the removal of Confederate symbols from all public buildings in the South, and he did so repeatedly. In return for spitting in Southern white faces, McCain has earned less than one percent of the black vote. And even that percentage of the black vote may have nothing to do with McCain’s willingness to attack ancestral Southern symbols.

Southerners do not take offense because they are incapable or unwilling to pencil in the line going from their revered presidential candidate to the trashing of their regional heritage. In the same way they ignored the attempt of the GOP to win their votes in congressional races two years ago, by sending them campaign literature comparing the invasion of Iraq to Lincoln’s success in occupying the entire South, “€œwhatever it cost,”€ with Union armies. Needless to say, a Democratic politician who protested the flying of the Israeli flag anywhere in this country would lose a sizable part of the Jewish Democratic vote. But then Jews have a sense of group pride, which they are willing to show—and even carry it to hysterical extremes. Most GOP voters are totally different. Their group image comes from what the GOP and the “€œconservative media”€ tell them they are. Thus they can be counted on to act exactly as directed. The party bosses may be duplicitous and may lean leftward, but no one could reasonably accuse them of overestimating their voters”€™ intelligence or historical memories.

One obvious reason the GOP views the non-paleo Right as not very bright is that they have their true measure. They know full well that if GOP politicos proclaim a particular social position in one area and an opposite one somewhere else, “€œconservatives”€ will not bother to notice, unless they are told by the authorized sources that such a discrepancy exists. The non-reflectiveness of self-described conservative Republicans never ceases to amaze me; and it goes well beyond the mental laziness and reliance on slogans that my leftist colleagues often ascribe to “€œthe dumb Right.”€ But clearly McCain and his advisors understand this situation and play games with their “€œconservative”€ voters in a way that Democrats would never dare to do with theirs. The veering to the social Left by McCain and Palin has elicited no shrieks of horror and indignation from intelligent members of the Right. The rubes are still lining up to cheer “€œSarah Barracuda”€ and whoever is the current anti-Democratic presidential candidate. One should expect nothing better. A thinking Right hardly exists except among subscribers to this and a few other websites.


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