Posted by: Rick | Friday, July 10, 2009

The Hannity Rules

A few weeks ago the pundits were saying that Republicans needed to come up with “new ideas” or risk extinction.  As usual, the pundits got it wrong, and here’s why:

Since the time of Ronald Reagan, it’s been bedrock Republican orthodoxy that only “free markets” can solve the nation’s problems. The Party’s extremist base has now taken things a step further.  Many of them are convinced that the federal government, under the stewardship of Barack Obama, has become tyrannical and — perhaps — illegitimate.  Welcome to the Glenn Beck era of wingnuttery.

Hardcore Republicans would like to see the government dismantled, not improved. For them, new ideas are dangerous, being, in all likelihood, nothing more than fancy tiles on a slippery slope to serfdom.  Their stance  is simple:  All that’s required to make this country great is the will to smash the welfare state to pieces.

In this environment, why on earth would a Republican politician want to espouse “new ideas” about government?  You’d sooner expect Michael Vick to attend veterinary school.  (The popularity among the wingnuts of the allegedly brilliant Newt Gingrich has nothing to do with his “ideas” — to which no one pays the slightest attention — and everything to do with his high-octane partisan rhetoric.)

Sean Hannity represents the lowest common denominator for wingnuts.  Because no concept beyond his feeble mental grasp can be sold to the masses, the cavernous void of his brain-pan becomes the inhospitable de facto incubator for fresh Republican thought — so don’t hold your breath waiting for a twenty-first century Edmund Burke to arrive.  It can’t happen here.  Anything Sean can’t comprehend is out.

But for a political party that finds itself against the ropes, this is actually a strength.  They don’t have to waste any time thinking; they can simply attack.

Through 2010 the message of the GOP is going to be entirely emotional.  (Have you listened to John Boehner lately?  He is one angry, sputtering golfer-dude!)  Failure is an option for them, because their right-wing agenda is the same as it ever was. They’ll keep on proposing it, only louder.  That their message is embarrassingly simple-minded and a proven recipe for disaster doesn’t mean it won’t have political appeal in this time of great economic distress.  Democrats must never forget this.  We can’t get complacent just because the opposition doesn’t have anything “new” to offer.

They never will.

APPENDIX

And now, for all you aspiring Republican politicians:

THE FIVE REPUBLICAN “IDEAS”
 
1. Tax cuts are always good.  The bigger, the better.2. “Spending” (non-defense) is always bad. (Note: Upon taking office, do not attempt to enact meaningful spending reductions. Republican deficits –  as long as they’re brought about by trickle-down tax cuts – are “pro-growth” and will eventually raise revenue.)
3. People south of the Rio Grande may be terrorists. Spread the fear.
4. On foreign policy, follow the ABC rule: Always Be Confrontational.
5. “Elitists” and “judicial activists” are responsible for the death of our beloved Leave It To Beaver culture.  “America For Real Americans!”

 

By sticking to these talking points – no deviations, no elaborations – you too can rise to the top of the Republican heap.

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