Sunday, May 17, 2009

Reasons We Should Still Be Nervous

I've noticed a disturbing trend among Dems in the last 6 months or so. Ever since we won the White House and a near filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, there is a new wind blowing among liberal and progressive pundits, personalities, and comedians. Dare I call it smugness? I dare.

I understand it is a tactic, or even a grand strategy, to dismiss the GOP's efforts to reinvent itself as silly and futile. As long as we make everything they're doing seem pointless, maybe it really will be. This is dangerous. How do you think the left blew the right away last November? It was sheer grassroots organizing, that "Yes We Can" mentality, that was underestimated over and over by conservatives, until it was far too late for them to do anything about it. Here are some examples:

Tea Parties: During this craze about a month ago, conservatives and independents took to the streets in a purportedly "grassroots" organized effort in about 300 cities nationwide. Many protesters went way off-message and many didn't seem to know what the message was in the first place. Detracting from the tea partiers credibility were offensive signs such as "Obama's Plan: White Slavery" and "Barack Hussein Obama: The New Face of Hitler." (Why yes, fascism and socialism ARE diametrically opposed ideologies, thank you for noticing!) The parties were also wildly promoted by and even, in many cases, funded by Fox News, taking away a bit more of that "grassroots" credibility. They could have fizzled on their own but pundits and personalities on MSNBC, CNN, and other networks and blogs, couldn't help themselves but dismiss them with frat boy humor. Admittedly, when I first heard the term "teabagging" in conjunction with these parties, I laughed hysterically, thinking those silly right wingers just didn't know what they were saying. Like pulling out your brass instrument that had been caught in the rain and saying, "oh no, now I've got a rusty trombone!!!"... for example. Here's an example of tea party dismissal using the teabag joke that went on a bit too long on my dear Rachel Maddow's show:

I found this quite funny at the time. But then I got to thinking... had I heard any credible right-wing pundit or tea party supporter use the term "teabagging"? (Okay, other than the one guy in the crazy hat Rachel showed..) The answer is... probably not. If you did, send me a link and I'll retract. But it really looks like we took the term used in a couple of emails and on a couple of signs (and I am pretty sure they are using it tongue-in-cheek as well) and put it in their mouths, assuming they weren't in on the joke, which certainly doesn't lend anything to our own credibility.

I could go on forever about the tea parties... people somehow believe that they will have drivable roads and bridges, disaster relief, pell grants, and national security without taxes? And they decided to protest after one of the biggest middle class tax cuts in recent history? And they do so by displaying signs indicating that our president's bow in Saudi Arabia was him "sucking Saudi Jewels"? Give me a break... but dismissing them as a bunch of crazies getting together to yell is dangerous. A bunch of crazies in one place can do a lot of damage.

Miss California: Sure, Carrie Prejean answered Perez Hilton's question on her thoughts about gay marriage in a rather bigoted way, IMO. However, she is by no means alone in finding homosexuality to be "biblically" wrong, and as messed up as that sentiment is, she was bound to gather the masses in her rallying cry that "in my family and in my country," homosexuality is wrong. Perez, you're an idiot - not for asking the question, but for attacking her afterwords as a "bitch" and "the c word." Essentially, attacking Miss California for her (uninformed, less-than-thought-out, poorly delivered) opinion allowed the right wing anti-gay masses to rally around her. And guess what, she's pretty. So she wins this round, unfortunately.

GOP Listening to people?:
Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor gathered at an Arlington pizzeria earlier this month to discuss a new way forward for the GOP. A mostly republican crowd packed the pizzeria and the parking lot out front to ask questions of the 3 party leaders and discuss new ideas. I don't know what they talked about, but listening to people in a diner in a non-election year can't be a bad idea. The news was broken by HuffPost, however, with a picture of a giant pizza at top-center-front page, and the word "GOPizza" - essentially gloating that the Republican Party has been reduced to pizzeria sitdowns to strategize their way-ahead. While that's true, and it sure is fun to gloat, it's completely unproductive and dismissive. In fact, maybe these guys should have been applauded for their effort - what they were doing before sure didn't work for them. (Since then, those gentlemen organizing the "listening tour" have had to deal with the wrath of party boss... erm... radio personality Rush Limbaugh who didn't like the idea one bit. Mr. Cantor retracted his previous comments about the listening tour and essentially apologized to Daddy Limbaugh.) If they learn not to bow to Boss Limbaugh, maybe they'll have a fighting chance next time around...

Which brings me to my next scary right wing specter...

Rush Limbaugh:
My daddy taught me very early, perhaps at the age of 5 or 6, to say the eternally truthful words "Rush Limbaugh is a fat windbag." He also taught me that the true difference between Catholics and Protestants is that Protestants eat cake at church, and that "Bill Spencer" (the local weatherman at the time) "is always wrong." My dad is a genius. Rush Limbaugh is, indeed, a fat windbag, and there is indisputable proof. When he opens his fat mouth, fat wind rushes out along with his bullying, pig-headed, narrow-minded vitriol. Unfortunately, he carries a great deal of sway within the Republican Party, and any time a republican says something that makes a modicum of sense (for example, going on a listening tour as noted above, or calling Limbaugh himself "an entertainer,") that party member must grovel at the Boss's feet or be pummeled on talk radio by the fat windbag. Come on guys... have some friggin balls. This is not 5th grade and he is not the school bully. Unfortunately, while he is in control of your minds and words, he is a threat to you and to the sanity of all of us.

Rick Perry's Texas Secession Threats:
Yes, Texas secession is a ridiculous notion. Or is it? I know lots of Texans who are very proud of the "Republic of Texas," and who talk a big game about how it could be a standalone nation bigger than many European, Asian, and African countries both in geographic size and economic output. But most of those people speak mostly in jest... Texans love America in a rather basic way, with a gun in one hand and a cattle prod in another. Regardless, Texas Republicans (the "patriotic" ones, remember?) are split right down the middle on the idea of secession. Texas Democrats (we're the unpatriotic ones. Oh, by the way, I'm a Texas resident) disapprove of secession by 80%. Silly unpatriotic Democrats, hating America so much they want to remain a part of it... they should be more patriotic and want to split. Wait, what is going on here???

Keith Olbermann put together a nice segment on how SOL Texas would be if it actually did secede:

Excellent. That settles that... there's no way Texas could survive on its own! Except that Governor Perry is running for reelection, and with half of his constituent base favoring secession, he may be running his mouth a lot more about it in the near future. I hate throwing around the "treason" word, but it's starting to look that way. And after all that talk in the last 8 years about how speaking against the war is dangerous to the troops, dangerous for morale, dangerous for our unity as a country... what the heck do you think serious talk about a whole freakin' state leaving could do? And P.S. I like Texas. I think it's a beautiful state with some awesome cities and friggin' awesome barbeque. I have absolutely nothing against Texas. But Governor Perry needs to pull his head out of his ass before this thing escalates into crazy groupthink... note what I said earlier about lots of crazies in one place. Never a good thing.

So there you have it... five reasons why we Democrats/liberals/progressives should NOT be so smug and dismissive toward the GOP. They're down but not out and it's this kind of dismissive attitude they displayed toward us that got us riled up enough to do something about it. Just FYI.


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