What sort of psychological bent would lead people to want to be part of a dead-end political party like the GOP?
Clearly, fear–stirring it as well as succumbing to it–is central to such a psyche, and Republicans are swinging that big spiked mace as wildly as if it were the night before a bitterly contested election. This Web ad that came out last week isn’t from Michael Savage or Glenn Beck (more from them later) but from House minority leader John Boehner and intel committee ranking Republican Pete Hoekstra.
Actually, we do feel safer, most people would say. The world doesn’t hate us quite as much now that a president is offering a handshake instead of the finger, and we’re not alienating our allies now that we’re not asking them to jump off the Geneva Convention while screaming "Yee-ha!" all the way down.
The strange thing is that Repubs are still producing this kind of National Security theater, complete with cardiac arrest-soundtrack, even though it’s failed time and again over the past two years in campaign ads for Tom Tancredo, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and just about every other doomed GOP hopeful.
At some point the vaunted Republican noise machine stopped being about winning elections and became instead a feckless attempt at mass justification, popping out one lame excuse after another for the party’s failures. And it was a short leap from there to simply hitting rewind on the rightwing’s longtime romance with a Lost Cause. Like Southerners still waving the stars’n’bars 150 years after Appomattox, or Col. Custer blithely riding up that coulee into an overwhelming force of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, today’s Repub diehards will go to their graves muttering about the fascist-socialist-gun-snatching tyranny of Barack Osama, convincing themselves sotto voce that, by fighting for a lower tax-rate for the extremely wealthy, they’re the true descendants of the American Revolution. As the teabag-besotted begillionaire Mitt Romney told a Republican crowd this weekend, with no apparent sense of his own absurdity, "We are the party of the revolutionaries, they [Democrats] are the party of the monarchists."
That new study indicating that conservatives might not quite understand that Stephen Colbert’s wingnut rants are devastating mockery rings true. Because not understanding isn’t just a failure to get the joke, it’s a defense mechanism: Without a certain level of cluelessness, the whole party would be knocking around in an unstatesmanlike manner, blurting, "My God, what have I done?" Isn’t it simpler to insist, as Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe does, that Arlen Specter’s flight from the GOP is exactly what the party needs to regain control of both the House and the Senate? "This is the first visible evidence that what happened in 1993 is happening again now," Inhofe told Fox News, sounding like Caligula claiming that treasure chests of seashells were his tribute from Neptune for defeating the sea.