Friday, February 08, 2008

conservative tantrum against McCain

There are times in my life that I look back on fondly. For example, I played rugby in college, and enjoyed myself quite a bit, despite not being particularly good at it (the rugby games were just a warmup for the rugby parties, and I was good at that part of it.)

But now I'm in my mid forties, have a family and go to work every day. I can enjoy reminiscing in the old days, but I'm realistic enough to know that was a long time ago, and those days came and went once, and only once.

But apparently not to conservatives. They fell in love with Ronald Reagan, in fact many of them are my contemporaries and they loved Reagan when they were in college or high school too (though I never embraced their philosophy, and going to an engineering college, that meant I disagreed about Reagan with about 90% of the student body.) Reagan's zenith came in 1984, when he came only a few thousand votes in Minnesota short of winning fifty states in his re-election bid.

Since then though, they've tried over and over and over to resurrect Reagan. After an attempt led by Michigan congressman Guy Vander Jagt in 1988 to repeal the twenty-second amendment (Presidential term limits) so Reagan could run again failed, they were happy with George H.W. Bush (after all, who could be a better heir to Reagan than Reagan's Vice President?) In 1992 they were furious with Bush senior though (they read his lips, so the 1991 budget agreement that included a tax increase sent them running for the doors) and many of them either voted for Pat Buchanan in the primaries or decided that billionaire Texan Ross Perot was their new savior or just didn't care. By the time they'd had eight years of Bill Clinton they settled on Mr. Bush's son, mainly because he didn't tell them to read his lips. But because of his position on immigration and failure to reign in spending during the bloated GOP Congress of the first part of the 2000's, even those who still like Bush (for example, because of the fact that under Bush the United States refused to be bond by that irritating Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners) admit he's no Reagan.

All of that pales in comparison though to the ire they've directed at John McCain. Lead by the same cabal of right-wing radio talk show hosts who have demonized Democrats for years, they are now calling McCain 'Benedict Arnold' (that is a direct quote from a caller on Rush Limbaugh's show today-- see Althouse for text of the complete call.) and claiming that they will even vote for a Democrat to keep McCain out of the White House.

While I fervently disagree with John McCain about a whole host of issues (and will have plenty of opportunity to post on that between now and the election) it seems from this rhetoric that the far right is becoming unhinged (an easy task for them.) Are they suggesting that McCain was somehow brainwashed in Hanoi and is the Manchurian Candidate?

What it really boils down to is that the far right can't get over their infatuation with the Reagan era. To them, he was a demigod, and any Republican is measured against the standard of Reagan, Or rather, it would be more accurate to say that any Republican is measured against the myth of Reagan-- they seem to forget that the Reagan who campaigned as a 'fiscal conservative' exploded the deficit, that the 'anti-abortion' Reagan sent abortion defender Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court and that the Reagan who railed against the evils of communism actually became quite chummy with Mikhail Gorbachev by the time he left the White House. In fact, by the end of that term, Reagan even agreed to a number of tax increases, but as the 'teflon President' he didn't suffer the same kind of damage to his image with conservatives as Bush Sr. did a few years later. For more on this, see Reagan's liberal legacy. But today conservatives view Reagan as being ten feet tall, and simply forget what they want to forget.

The good news for the GOP is that this is February, and the election isn't for nine months. And like any spoiled, immature children, that will be time enough for conservatives to get over the temper tantrum they are throwing because there isn't any more Ronnie. Even Limbaugh, who has led a by now well-documented attack on McCain the past few weeks, began to apply the brakes in order to reverse himself with breakneck speed, trying to talk the caller who compared McCain to "Benedict Arnold" out of voting for Obama instead in his first show after Romney quit and made it certain that McCain will be nominated by the GOP.

The good news for the rest of us is that they've done so much by now to saw down the support poles of their 'big tent' that there still won't be enough of them, if Democrats get out and vote.


Anonymous said...

conservatives today are worse than Stalinist communists. Not only do they blindly follow the line, even when it bends them into contorted positions but they are dogmatic to the point of idiocy.

And this kind of thing just adds to that perception. They purge, purge, purge, thinking they must have an ideologically pure party no matter what it costs them to get there.

Anonymous said...

How often do we hear, "I can't stomach a president who would raise payroll taxes, appoint prochoice justices to the Supreme Court, increase deficit spending, or grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. "

McCain won't do any of those things, but Reagan did them all.