Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Lotta brilliance here": The struggle (or perhaps catfight?) for the, er, soul of the Republican Party

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Actually I've given too much away. "Lotta brilliance here" was the subject line of an e-mail Howie sent me this afternoon, and while I waited for it to load (Lordy me, I do love AOL Mail), I racked my brain trying to figure out what it could be about. Eventually a link loaded:

http://news.aol.com/political-machine/2008/12/16/word-war-rush-limbaugh-fires-back-at-colin-powell/

Naturally, I burst out laughing. And not surprisingly, it got funnier when I went to the link and found this:

POLITICAL MACHINE
CRANKING 24/7 TO SORT THE SPIN

Word War: Rush Limbaugh Fires Back at Colin Powell


by DAVID KNOWLES
DEC 16TH 2008 8:54AM


This past week, an interesting Republican spat has erupted between the party's conservative and moderate flanks. The leader of the former is none other than Rush Limbaugh, the talk show host who has never held public office. The latter group is represented by retired Gen. Colin Powell, our former Secretary of State. The feud began when, in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Powell singled Limbaugh out as an example of all that is wrong with the modern-day GOP:


Limbaugh circled his wagons in response to Powell's attack, telling his listening audience:
Colin Powell, ladies and gentlemen, insists that conservatives and Republicans support candidates who appeal to minorities like I guess McCain who led the effort for amnesty. He insists that conservatives and Republicans move to the center like McCain, who calls himself a maverick for doing so. General Powell insists that conservatives and Republicans provide an open tent to different ideas and views, like I guess McCain, who repeatedly trashed Republicans and made nice with Democrats. I mean, their tent's big, they just don't want us in it. John McCain is and was Colin Powell's ideal candidate. All these moderates, Bill Weld, all these moderates that crossed the aisle and voted for Obama, they got their ideal candidate, and they got their ideal campaign in McCain. Once McCain was nominated as the Republican candidate, largely by independents and Democrats voting in Republican primaries, Colin Powell waited 'til the last minute, when it would do the most damage to McCain and the Republicans and endorsed Obama. And when I said it was largely about race, that's what set 'em all off, you're not supposed to say these kinds of things. This is supposed to go unspoken.

That's classic Limbaugh. A dizzying string of willful inaccuracies, half-truths, and revisionism all proving the central point that Rush, once again, is the victim of a liberal conspiracy. To claim that Democratic crossover votes were responsible for McCain's victory is more than a little disingenuous, and not supported by hard evidence. After all, Mitt Romney won Michigan, the state where all those Democratic votes were supposed to help McCain. Moreover, McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate to appeal directly to the more conservative elements of the party. That was no "move to the center."

More interesting than psychoanalyzing Rush's perpetually open microphone, however, is the larger question of what the future holds for the Republican Party. And both men do have legitimate points to make. Powell is right that if the GOP continues to double-down on its ever-insular, white, rural, Southern hand, it is doomed. But Limbaugh has a point when he states that the abandonment of requisite hot-button Republican issues that appeal to its increasingly homogeneous base would signal an identity crisis from which the party might not survive.

Of course, the GOP, and conservatism in general, is more diverse than Limbaugh would have his listeners believe. Ironically, by attempting to define the movement with such lines in the sand as "amnesty", abortion, religion, guns, and all those other Palin highlights, the Limbaugh-inspired wing of the party will continue to turn off prospective converts.

What really rankles Limbaugh and his fans is the notion that they need to be more like their Democratic adversaries if they want a shot at victory in 2012. That's what Powell sounds like he's saying, is it not? In this way, both Powell and Limbaugh are right. Go figure.

"Both Powell and Limbaugh are right," eh? Well, I suppose silliness inevitably ensues when you try to take Comedian Rush seriously. I mean, the notion of any sort of actual discussion taking place when one side is held down by Comedian is, well, far-fetched. In this instance you have to feel bad for Colin Powell, but only a little -- as we've had such frequent occasion to note, he made his bed and now has to lie in it.

But where the "brilliance" really breaks out is in the comments. Ah yes, you say. There were, as of when I looked, 1512 of them, but my stomach will only last about, oh, four deep. Gentlemen, start your brains:

GENIUS No. 1

Limbaugh is right. McCain was just about THE most liberal Republican in the Senate... exactly what Colin Powell CLAIMED he wanted. For some reason, McCain would not and could not shake the "Bush III" image. From campaign finance reform to abortion to immigration, McCain sided with Democrats on some of the most important topics to Democrats. Powell can talk all day long, and when he does he shows himself to be a liar and a racist.

GENIUS No. 2

It demonstrates the woeful deterioration of the media when almost every news story adds a political commentary woven into the story.It also demonstrates that there is a PC agenda when Colin Powell has the gall to state that Conservatives neede to move to a higher level, when it is the same Colin Powell who endorses the policies which have led to the killing of over 50 million unborn children. Mr. Powell needs to revisit his concepts of "higher levels" and reread the Bill of Rights and our Constitution and the universal Declaration on Human Rights before he lectures others. It is the right to life which is the fundamental foundation of civilization and morality, and Colin Powell needs to humbly revisit his thinking and comments.

GENIUS No. 3

typically, the article claims half truths and inaccuracies by Limbaugh, but then fails to provide any examples. Everything Limbaugh said was on the money, whether you agree or not.

GENIUS No. 4

demoncrates is so dum. voting for obumma prooves it. there gonna rase my tax. i aint got many chikins left to gives to them. aint my vote worth nuthin. i voted for sara palen for precedent. mabe i shud start a pettishun to get her as the reel precedent.

HOWIE'S THEORY OF THE GOP EDUCATIONAL CONSPIRACY

Whew! 1512, eh? Deep breaths, deep breaths.

As I wrote Howie back, all I could think of was his pet theory about the right-wing conspiracy embeddded in our educational system. I don't recall whether he's talked about it here, and while I've been tempted to lots of times, I don't think I have either.

The theory is pretty simple: The reason our educational system is in the mess it is, suitable only for the production of dunces, is because the Right, as it gained control of the political and social apparatus of the country, understood that it could do nothing more valuable to ensure its perpetuation in power than to consolidate an educational system that would turn out a nation of fools. No ability to absorb information from the world around them, no ability to process such information as happened to slip through, and consequently no capacity to make sense of that world around them.

The world, in other words, of Dittoheads. It was just the tiniest leap from there to "reality" TV shows. We've populated the country with beings who couldn't locate reality if you beat their tiny brains out with it.

Was it the final insight of Karl Rove, once he actually got to work his magic from inside the White House, that if national imbecility was good, the only thing better would be national insanity? As I pointed out a number of times during the election campaign, the Republican campaign strategy of nothing but the most vicious, psychotic lies, one piled on top of another, 24/7, for an entire campaign, makes sense only if you have cultivated a significant chunk of the electorate that has gone beyond moronic to flat-out insane.

Remember, that was just 4 out of 1512 -- and who knows how many more by now?
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8 Comments:

At 9:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

GOP Problem solved.

Newt Gingrich: RNC "head"

Palin/Bachmann 2012
The Raped Must Birth

 
At 12:14 AM, Blogger VG said...

Oh Ken! Oh Howie!

A nation of dunces indeed. As a college prof, I am seeing more and more of these kids enter the system, and I find it deeply disturbing.

I've ever since when felt that there isn't such a thing as a "teacher", on the simple grounds that all "teacher" can do is get students to want to learn. I can't "teach" them. That is out of my control. 100% of it is their willingness and ability to "learn".

And, more and more, I see students who don't have the ability or the experience to "learn" on their own account.

I read a rather good rephrasing of "No child left behind", i.e. "No child left a mind", and that pretty much say it all.

 
At 4:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Canada as well education is just seen as preparation for life as a worker drone. I recall working on a vision statement for my daughters' elementary school and the Principal solemnly declaring that the school needed to do a better job of getting their students to choose a career path. Yes, these are kindergarten to grade eight students.
Not much was mentioned in these discussions regarding preparing these people to be useful citizens who could think critically and speak and write intelligently.
When I brought that up, I received some blank stares and a curt response from one of the teacher representatives that that was a given. A lively discussion ensued which ended in the Principal rolling out the dreaded 'agree to disagree' canard.
Needless to say, I was not invited to participate in any further school policy functions, even though I remain on good speaking terms with the Principal.
My children are just moving out of the higher education system, and frankly I did not hear a lot from them that their fellow students were aware of or cared about the important issues of the day.
But they sure know and care about making a buck.

 
At 6:46 AM, Blogger Daro said...

I think everyone wandered off the path when they started conflating Rush Limbaugh with politics... He's an entertainer. His grist may be baiting the daily hot-button issues and playing controversies to a particular audience whom he relies on for his success, but if some group of the US citizenry choose to treat him like a policy opinion leader then.. free country I suppose. Probably Rush can't believe his luck. He's just some radio dude who's never held office and now look at his clout! But to debate over this guy is like mulling Elvis' muttered opinions on foreign affairs in cabinet policy meetings... The response to anything coming from Rush should be "Oh yeah, the radio DJ.. uhu.. I prefer KLXN 76.3FM myself.."
"Oh - but he's SO influential" people respond..
Really? I don't think he's won even 1 newcomer to the freako-right of the spectrum that he wades in. All the people under his wing were there already before he arrived; they're there now, and they'll be there when Rush keels over from Oxycontin seizures.

 
At 7:17 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Thanks for the interesting thoughts, all.

I would just add two points:

* VG, my educational "guiding light," the late John Holt, would agree with you absolutely that there's really no such thing as "teaching," only learning -- and teachers who can assist students in that process. In his second book, How Children Learn (the inevitable sequel to his How Children Fail), he registered astonishment and scorn at the educational establishment's obsession of the time, the '60s, with "motivation" (unfortunately, that has been replaced by an even more sinister obsession, which we'll come back to in a moment), when "a child has no greater desire than to make sense of the world around him." That became my functional definition of learning. As Holt pointed out, that desire is so deep-rooted that you had to diminish it to reach the state of affairs he saw. His target was the schools. Howie's theory locates a much larger, more sinister target.

* To Richard S's anguished and angry report from Canada, I would just add that if our schools were actually training kids for careers, that would be a major upgrade. Employers have been complaining for years that even for the minimal-skill jobs they overwhelmingly have to fill, they have trouble finding adequately trained workers.

Worse still -- and it's a "worse" made worser still by phony educational "back to basics" schemes with bogus "accountability" machinery like No Child Left Behind which depend on machine-gradable multiple-choice tests -- is the seemingly unstoppable movement toward "teaching to the test." Teachers who want to teach have been screaming about this for years, but it's only gotten worse.

To anyone who hasn't seen the fourth season of David Simon's The Wire (I just caught up with it via BET's reruns), which features a school plot line, I can't recommend it enough. It's heart-breaking.

Ken

 
At 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frankly, I think it's politicians of both parties who have happily participated in the dumbing down/complete neglect of the American school system. A voter who is unable to analyze, engage in long term planning, complex thought, or independant thought, is a boon to any politician.

 
At 8:23 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Fair point, Anon.

Ken

 
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