Eve Fairbanks discusses the theatrics and cunning stunts of the last few weeks from the GOP and asks a fair question:
Why are Republicans taking so many pages out of their failed candidate’s campaign playbook?
The Republican Party has been using a grab-bag of strategies to counter Obama’s policies over the past month. They rail against the stimulus package for its (supposed) pork. They hammer home their points with gimmicky videos and props. They speak in warrior rhetoric and revel in heroic, fighting-man stunts. But if there is one strand running through all these strategies, it is that they evoke a discomfiting feeling of deja vu. We’ve seen this stuff before: The GOP is currently reliving John McCain’s presidential campaign. The return to the strategies of their fallen candidate may be the saddest illustration of the current state of the party.
I honestly think it is because of the echo chamber, and because they simply have not had to think for so long that the echo chamber just rules. As far as I can tell these days, there are only three events Republicans remember throughout history, and those three events are the basis for every decision they make. The events are WWII (in which a damned furriner, Churchill, is the conservative hero), the Reagan administration, and the Republican take-over of Congress in Clinton’s first term. It doesn’t matter that they “misremember” those three cherished memories and don’t seem to have the ability to accurately assess those time periods. If you are wondering why the Bush administration and the past eight years is not one of those three memories, it is because they decided the day he left office that he is not a true conservative. Down the memory hole with you, George, and take those damned dogs with you!
Let’s just take one of these to prove the point. As WWII is one of the pivotal moments Republicans remember, every enemy is Hitler -Saddam Hussein? Hitler.
Kim Jong Il? Hitler.
Barack Obama? Hitler.
Likewise, anyone who does not do precisely what the wingnut crowd wants is instantly an appeaser and akin to Chamberlain.
Barack Obama- appeaser and Chamberlain.
Iraq War Critics- Appeasers.
Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and Arlen Specter- Appeasers.
And on and on. So what you have is a movement centered on a fictional history based on three events they don’t remember too well, and they are completely at the mercy of the echo chamber, which has themcompletely dumbed down by talk radio and the circle jerk of self-referential pundits that tells them exactly what they want to hear. If you remember correctly, the wurlitzer was telling us after the last electoral drubbing that this is a center-right nation, despite the fact the GOP got hammered.
In other words, they think they won because “conservative values” still rule the day. Now what are they doing? Well, since they were told they won, they believe it, and they are continuing to do the same things they did during the “winning” election, spicing that up with their favorite memories from their three events- calling everyone an appeaser, feigning fiscal responsibility while pretending no one remembers the last eight years, chucking out tax cuts as a solution for everything while pretending Reagan balanced the budget and never raised taxes (Health care a mess? Tax cuts! Market melting down? Tax cuts! Need some economic stimulus? Tax cuts!), and unifying in opposition to the Democratic President just like the good old days of 1993.
Like I said- they aren’t very bright. Break out the celebratory tire gauges, bitches!
*** Update ***
*** Update #2 ***
I swear to FSM that I did not see this until someone linked it in the comments:
But in the warped fantasy of Transatlantic Neoconomia, the world in which every diplomatic challenge is another 1938 and all peaceful negotiation is “appeasement”, any snub of St Winston is sacrilege, a sign that the Atlantic bridge is crumbling.
It’s too early to judge the tenor of Obama’s foreign policy. His taste in Oval Office decor bodes well, however, especially given Bush II’s disastrous tendency to view the world in Churchillian terms of good and evil.
Not quite true, John.
Some of them get that they lost.
They’re just formenting rebellion and treason in the hopes that one of their listeners pulls a Oklahoma City in DC.
Just Some Fuckhead
Churchill’s ma was American if IIRC (sorry, too lazy to wikiped) So based on the Mom, America and Apple Pie theorem, Churchill is the apple pie that was baked in America’s oven.
They honestly just don’t have any other ideas besides the ones that Newtie, Grover and the Ghost of St Ronnie put in their heads.
Obstruction, tax cuts for the rich, and government = bad.
That’s all they got. That’s all they ever had. So they’re running with it.
Best Description ever.
Post on point and in a (wing)nut shell.
They are riding second class on the Good Ship Lollipop bound for Atlantis.
And those strategies would be "suspending" a losing campaign to "deal with"* the financial crisis? "Thanks but no thanks"?
I think it’s too kind to label what the Republicans do as a "strategy". Their party has no leadership. How can it have a strategy?
*Edit – Scare quotes added. To Republicans, "deal with" means "obstruct the government’s ability to deal with the problem"
Obligatory link to Kevin James getting pwned by Chris Matthews on the topic of Neville Chamberlain.
Nice analysis, John! Someone ate their Wheaties this morning.
I do tend to agree that this is a center-right nation. The Democrats are a center-right party with a center-left wing. Love the post and the analysis.
See also: Christianity (‘He was born to redeem us; He died for our sins; He is gloriously risen 4evah!’). There are a lot of Republicans who believe — because that’s what they were taught in their cradles — that a small band of The Righteous who keep honking their three-note clown horns relentlessly enough for long enough will TRIUMPH OVER EVIL! eleventy-one!
the Hitler lines with links are the best. And I agree this is all about the echo chamber and truly believing their take on the world is the take on the world.
What gets me is that they seem to be oblivious to the fact that their constant use of that trope in this ridiculously out of place manner makes the power of the analogy virtually nonexistent in case they actually needed to use it on a case of ‘real’ threats to freedom.
And taking it back to that list of conservative movies. This crew are not just chickenhawks who want to wage wars when they have no idea of what fighting really is but they also like to think of themselves as fighting some real threat to individual freedom with this bs tea party. In their minds they are living in a world/situation that is akin to The Lives of Others. Fools.
@Just Some Fuckhead:
*chortle* very graphical.
Also, with our electorate not being very bright isn’t necessarily a handicap. If you can spew a few simplistic talking points that people understand, you’re oftentimes better off than confusing people with a precise analysis of a situation.
Of course one reason they do this shit is because of the current state of the media (very very sad). The Villagers, as Atrios calls them, keeping saying how the Republicans have their mojo back so the Republicans think they are doing swell. Until the Republicans start listening to someone other than beltway insiders and the wingnut pukes on talk radio, they won’t escape from this nonsense. It is possible that the economy will continue to tank for long enough that the American people will decide Obama doesn’t know what he is doing, but if the economy bounces back at all by August or September 2010, we’ll likely be looking at a 64-36 Democratic edge in the Senate and probably a 100+ seat margin in the House.
Nailed it. Nice one, John.
It all depends on what definition one is using. If one uses European (and Canadian) standards, then yes, you could say that the U.S. is actually a center-right nation. What we consider "centrist" is considered "whackadoodle lefty" by much of American society, it seems to appear. But by the U.S.’s own societal standards, I think the country is much farther left than the pundits and politicians would admit.
The GOP is currently reliving John McCain’s presidential campaign.
If you could call it "living" in the first place. Redying?
Spend five minutes on any wingnut blog comments section and the stupid is overwhelming. Those people live in an altered reality and can’t be reached with any amount of reason (as opposed to the reformed Mr. Cole ;-))
I thought it would be unfair if I pointed out which party opposed the draft to fight WWII and which party also opposed lend-lease to keep the Brits afloat (quite literally). There is no chance in hell they will remember that.
You know, there’s a reason Oklahoma City was in Oklahoma City and not Boston, Massachusetts or New York, New York. Boston doesn’t have the critical mass of crazy and stupid necessary to poise an actual threat.
But… but… but… I thought Republicans hated the lie-brul drive-by anti-American media. I’m so confused.
Gotta Ask Why
I remember being 10 years old and thinking that the whole ‘Government is the problem’ meme being complete crap. The fact is that the GOP has long since stopped contributing to the forum of ideas for governance, and simply decided to press the ‘repeat’ button on tax cuts and less government intervention (except for curiously our phone calls, our medicine cabinets / stash drawer, and our bedrooms).
What they’ve failed to grasp is that government was created to avoid the situation that in which we currently find ourselves. The one in which the masses have to resort to pitchforks and armed insurrection in order to rescue any semblance of dignity in their lives. The facts are that if we didn’t want ANY government interference we wouldn’t have bothered to elected anyone.
For example I heard a crazy idea put forth by a GOP on NPR some that posited that we should abandon the entire welfare system and simply guarantee an inflation-adjusted $20,000 to any working-age adult that puts in 40 hours worth of work. Now as an unabashed liberal I can pick a million holes in his plan, but it’s admittedly, a plan, and therefore worthy of discussion and debate. What is truly sad, however, is that his proposal was more substantive than anything put forward by any member of the GOP in the last 20 years. And, in reality, that guy was probably on NPR because he’d have been harassed off of Hannity for being a commie!
Who was busy trying to relive W’s first presidential campaign.
@John Cole: It’s a bit staggering to think that ANYBODY opposed those programs. Of course, it’s a bit staggering to think we’d be hearing what a failure the New Deal was, 80 years later. :-p
How about David Shuster just tweeted how wrong Ensign was on Hardball because Chris Matthews basically just let him say whatever in the hell he wanted to?
Tweety even brought up the none existent provision in the bill for a train from Vegas to Disney land which Shuster debunked last night. Such is the state of our media. I guess if I was a Rethug I would probably feel like we could win the pr wars too as long as the Villagers keep helping them the way that they do.
…and since Ick Chaney left the scene, there’s no fearless leader to love and obey. Poor babies– authoritarians without an author.
J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford
the thing is, is that the republicans are much happier as a minority party. they get to throw their tantrums, try and obstruct the grownups from doing anything, and just generally oppose anybody doing anything but screwing over the unwashed masses and tithing a small portion of the proceeds to the party’s coffers.
i think it actually threw them off to be in charge for a while. i don’t think they ever expected to have their governing philosophy (such as it is) tested in the crucible of actual implementation, which is why they’re so quick to forget the last eight years.
given the paucity of depth to their playbook, philosophically and ideologically speaking, they’re probably pretty happy to be outside the tent pissing in right now.
I don’t mind them doing that. In fact, the Villagers can do that all they want. The "liberal" media couldn’t be doing a better job hurting conservatives even if they were card-carrying liberals.
Good post, John, except you forgot a few things–for one, the GOP is in denial. Deep denial. About so many things. For another, they view politics as some sort of project of collective will rather than an endeavor to accomplish practical goals. Thanks to generations of "vote only on your values" Republicans the GOP base does exactly that, and they scorn anyone who disagrees with them, which makes coalitions difficult. Good thing this is a center-right nation!
@J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford: Win.
Your Derbyshire link is a hoot. I like his whole "I reject the methods of our mercenaries" bit — too little, too late, a tad disingenuous. But I’ll give him this, anything that makes freeper heads explode so is a grand delight.
Brick Oven Bill
Our system of government is essentially failing. One reason is that no rational person of character would choose to become an elected official. After WWII, the typical Congressman was a war veteran. I’m sure there was corruption back then too, but not nearly on the level of what we have today.
Try to tell me that Dodd-Pelosi-Frank-Reid cabal are any better than the Boehner-McCain-Cantor-Graham cabal.
This is why we should vote to make Sully Sullenberger our dictator for a six month period of time, direct him to shake down the system, and then return it to us in a manner that he sees fit. I have changed my mind and belief the right man for the job is Sullenberger, instead of the Commandant of the Marine Corps. There is too much politics among Flag Officers.
Sullenberger called the library and told them that the book he had checked out on professional ethics, was in his plane’s cargo hold, and was not returnable. He is obviously skilled, calm under duress, and ethical. Everybody respects him. Sullenberger should be our temporary dictator. The early Romans had a similar system.
Shuster’s ratings are GOLD, thank you jeebus. But, since I came here for a righteous link whore, BEHOLD!!!
Political Carnival Exclusive VIDEO: Sarah Palin filmmaker John Ziegler on dating show
Exactly what you would expect, and so much more.
Just Some Fuckhead
Sullenberger has hairy arms too.
I dont’ consider this pork anyways. I would love to have a fast track to Vegas when I feel like it. Shit, I’ll be spending money, so what? Same thing I’d love a train going to Disneyworld. I don’t see what the big deal is, it’ll have a lot of ridership and it’s good for Nevada, create jobs, etc etc. They get taxed, we get some wealth and then maybe it gets spread around. Shit.
Not enough delicious tuna every night? Kitler!
I think some of the RW blogosphere sort of developed under Bushism and attracted mostly those who fanned his flames and defended atrocious policies because liberals were opposed (and are slowly realizing their error). Then there are those who promoted rank tribalism to remain in power above all else. Sort of the Rovian/Delay and now Palin wing and are becoming more batshit crazy by the day. It seems most of these types are in the south and currently have a numbers codlock on the party and any ideas other than the ones Cole cites in this post. Presently unsolvable conundrum IMHO.
OMG. That is an incredible link. Ziegler is such a f***.
@Cain: Los Vegas. Disneyland. Not fiscally responsible. Porkulous. Limousine Liberal. Family Values. Tax and Spend. This creates work, but not jobs. Country First. $30 million for a field mouse in Nancy Pelosi’s district.
Shut the fuck up, that’s why.
See also: Nixon Strategy.
And Bill, consider yourself told that Dodd, etal are better than Boehner, etal. Happy?
They’re definitely staying on message, as usual. The thing I worry about is that if there are just a few bumps in the road for Obama the relentless GOP message could start appealing to enough people to make them relevant again.
They have tactics only. And with the enemy changing on them without any corresponding change in their actions, it really shows blatantly now.
@Brick Oven Bill: And, Bill, really, make Sullenberger a six month dictator? Either your spoofery is genius, or someone left the key in the door to the asylum today.
Pwnage, pure pwnage with a slathering of awesomesauce.
History is going to remeber this generation of Republicans as they remember the Hooverites, namely: "Who the fuck were the silly little people that opposed these great men doing important things?
@Paddy: Holy fucking shit! What a story. This deserves front-page recognition. Just when we think we have these assholes pegged, they surpass — er, I should probably say, plummet through even that basement floor.
J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford
Could that have ended any better?
Vote for Javier!
J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford
I believe it’s a little bit of both.
I prefer the French version.
All those aspiring to be dictators and their supporters get their heads chopped off and mounted on poles.
Now that Sully has come forward to testify to Congress that airline deregulation is a failure and the airline companies are cheating their employees to fatten the executives’ paychecks, I’m all in favor of a Sully dictatorship. Getting a strong union man like him in charge may be the only way to re-balance the power between labor and business in this country.
Wile E. Quixote
@Brick Oven Bill
Ah yes, if we could only return to those heady post-war years when we had such moral exemplars as Richard Nixon, Joseph McCarthy and Lyndon Johnson in Congress. Those were the days.
Damn! I say. Damn! That’s some gooooooooooodddd crazy.
Didn’t McCain keep getting strategy and tactics mixed up when he tried to sound knowledgeable during the campaign?
John, you have nailed the problem with the GOP exactly on the head.
Here’s Sarah Palin, another of the Republicans’ "Rising Stars" on the media:
*Note the reflexive Republican use of the passive voice.
I’ll take "Headed for Obscurity" for 1000, Alex.
Wait just a got damned minute. Is Sarah Palin calling for the Fairness Doctrine??!!!
I think thats one internet rumor that might stick.
@Gotta Ask Why:
I have long thought this was a good plan, if it applied to everyone. By the way Nixon was the one who proposed this and I think he got it from his Democratic aide, Patrick Monyhan.
Uh, the bombers were not from Oklahoma, and …
@Cain: Churchill’s mother was indeed American. Moreover, Churchill was made an honorary US citizen after World War II. However, both left his occasionally disastrous Manicheanism intact.
John, I would argue that the GOP is not reverting to the McCain campaign strategy; rather, the McCain campaign took its cues from the GOP strategy which, as others have noted, has been pretty consistent since 2000 in spite of, or perhaps because of (clap harder!), its diminishing rates of return.
Hmm, Daily Show has a segment with Jason Jones reporting that Obama is Hitler/the Antichrist. It’s spreading…
The Republicans have (conveniently) forgotten that until December 8, 1941, the Republican Party was not necessarily anti-Hitler. They resisted any attempt to oppose him, so that Roosevelt had to invent Lend-Lease to get around the Neutrality Act. And AFTER the war, when Hitler had been exposed as not just an ordinary territorially ambitious dictator, but a genocidal maniac, liberals were hounded and persecuted for being premature anti-fascists. Like there’s a bad time to oppose evil.
This makes it ironic that Hitler is their template for a bad guy, because there was a time they thought he was not so bad. (Well, same goes for Saddam–evil is just a matter of timing and convenience with Republicans.)
Brilliant analysis, Mr. Cole! It’s going to go viral too.
That must be very awkward when your mother walks in on you when you are appeasing yourself.
Has he replaced that stupid-ass starburst carpet in the Oval Office yet?