TPM’s Editors Blog has a nice run of posts complimenting and providing context to the Obama campaign’s devastating Firms ad, where Mitt Romney warbles ”America the Beautiful”, comparing it to LBJ’s Daisy ad against Goldwater (an ad so brutal it was only aired once, see here for the whole story). The ad is so good that the TPM crew initially thought ringers from Hollywood were responsible. The Obama campaign is still using the same production team.
When arguing with a teabagger, I think it’s a mistake to always ascribe to stupidity that which can be equally explained by malice (think of it as an Inverse Hanlon’s Razor). As one of the ‘blue collar comedy tour’ types said, “you can’t fix stupid”. In this case, I think they are evil, as in they don’t care if the facts are correct, so long as the facts conform to their worldview, and further that they are more than willing to lie and distort where needed.
Mark recognizes that when you are at war, while it is important to get facts right (and I think Mark did a darned fine job sourcing his book, giving you the chance to criticize it), it is also important to inspire the troops and to do so by distilling the realities of the fight into useful information. I frankly don’t know if every statistic in Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative was correct or not. Nor do I know if every statistic or number in Reagan’s A Time For Choosing speech in 1964 was correct. I DON’T CARE. I know the facts were in the ballpark, and more importantly, the principles were timeless and correct.
The rise of Mike Huckabee and John Edwards unexpectedly strong finish in Iowa is a strong appeal away from establishment rhetoric towards populist values, with predictable results. There been scores of economic impact coverage framing the cost of Edwards economic populism such that you could think it was a resurgence of socialism or communism. The right is about to unleash a blue-blood jihad against the corn-suckers of Iowa and other religious adherents, attempting to torpedo Huckabee while promoting the next annointed GOP nominee,
Rudy Giuliani Mitt Romney Fred Thompson John McCain. Since these folks don't particularly care (nor are aware of) the chattering classes, they will likely be unmoved by their criticism (although the corporate and hawk wings of the party will likely open their wallets). The end result of which will end up with a blessing for liberals and progressives – a disenchanted Evangelical grassroots movement that will likely stay home in November, 2008, and possibly write off the GOP for a generation or more.
Now, there are definitely hazards with this – the Evangelicals could form a third party. We could be seeing the birth of a Christian Theocracy movement, emboldened by their defeat much in the same way that the defeat of Barry Goldwater led to the foundation, strengthening, and eventual dominance of the conservative movement.
But the most likely outcome will be the pairing of the money and way wings of each of the respective parties into a third coalition, leaving two slim minorities standing in the shadows. The religious right and secular progressives have zero chance of defeating a well funded corporate majority. But what if they could find common ground – economic populism?
When I think of Evangelicals, I think of the low-information voter that the GOP both covets and ignores. They know they could blow the dog whistle on certain base emotional issues like immigration, abortion, or gay marriage and count on them to dutifully work the grassroot system, knowing full well that the party would never deliver – abortion will always be legal, and gay marriage will never be made illegal. At the same time, the problems of red states, such as raceissues, teen pregnancy, poverty, crime, and bad schools, can all be blamed on big city liberals, Hollywood, the Coastal Elite, videogames, and every possible external source, completely ignoring their own internal contributions and the effect of their focus on social issues at the cost of their own economic well being.
The eventual destruction of Mike Huckabee will show that the GOP intends Evangelicals to be seen and not heard, to provide service to the party in exchange for unfulfilled promises, and in fact make decisions completely contrary to their own self-interests.
What if we could disengage religion from the argument, you know, separation of church and state and all that, and focus on economic impacts? Surely the progressives and social conservatives can find common ground somewhere….