As Obama works to assemble a financial package to try and break the Republican-wrought economic malaise, there seems to be a great deal of attention paid to getting those same Republicans on board, both by the administration and in media coverage. Obama has had several meetings with House and Senate Republicans, who have of course been conspicuous in their refusal to be moved. The first version of the House stimulus plan passed without a single Republican vote. While I admire Obama's attempt to keep all opinions on the table, I cannot forget the last eight years where the political Right staunchly refused to be veered from their wacko far-right course. I recall very few Republicans at the time expressing concern that Democratic views were not being considered.
NPR had a brief story yesterday about whether Rush Limbaugh is now the de facto leader of what is left of Republican thinking in this country. And he was quoted as saying that his desire for the new Obama administration was that it fail. (Go get 'em, fatso!)
This couldn't all be much clearer.
It has always seemed to me that this kind of Republican thinking--what has now become the mainstream Right, apparently--was a kind of mental illness, a mean-spirited contrariness with the adherents playing at being besieged even when they are in the majority. (Mainstream Christianity has a similar victim vibe going on, with their views prominently in evidence all about and yet they are "persecuted" and "under attack.") I would listen to these speeches and wonder what it must be like to live in these guys' heads, or for family members to live with people who really believed what these guys were saying.
Now we have the last few hangers-on to this train-wreck philosophy which has brought our country to its knees over the past decade (really three decades, with a brief respite of prosperity and healthy governmental functioning during the Clinton administrations) standing with their arms crossed, working hard at being "the opposition." Like the Faux News adherent who declares "liberal" anything which does not advocate a far-right view, this handful of angry white men avow that they will never support anything that does not fully embrace their ideals--ideals which have now been belatedly but firmly repudiated by the citizens of this country.
Insofar as debate with conservatives may serve to temper Democratic excesses, I think a striving for a middle ground is not necessarily a bad thing: I'm all for moderation in politics (not that any of these Republicans are seeking moderation). But spittle-flecked anger that we're "socializing" the economy--and the desire to "let the market straighten this all out"; these things flow directly from the Cauldron of Bad Ideas which we've finally purged from the halls of power in Washington. Wake up and smell the coffee, fellas.
As to whether Limbaugh is now the standard-bearer for the political Right: I say, let them have him. Embrace that inner Palin. Thus we find the conglomeration of bad / non-ideas being led by an egomaniac who spends hours every day closed in a dark room holding court before a mute, imaginary audience, listening obsessively to the sound of his own voice and fielding the few callers who are carefully screened to be sure they will give the proper salute. There is no discussion there, no exchange of ideas, no give-and-take; just a self-absorbed loudmouth bully who has placed himself at the head of the phalanx of the disaffected, mostly white men who are wallowing in anger and self-loathing. If I were God of the world I would force him to go back and watch Firing Line reruns (which would involve shutting the hell up and listening to others for once), and he could see how a real conservative engaged other brilliant minds for a give-and-take about political philosophy.
Buckley was a great thinker (even if I could never get on board with his ideas); Limbaugh is a bloviating gas bag, and the self-proclaimed leader of a third-rate movement (which may yet prevail and lead our country to its own third-rate status).