With the ascendancy of right wing talk radio and the development of what David Brock would come to call the "right wing noise machine," Americans have been subjected to a level of pandering demagoguery that has often been understandably disregarded by people with triple digit IQs. People to the left of Rush Limbaugh have repeatedly made the grave error of not taking the threat posed by these juvenile tactics seriously enough. How exactly does one address political commentary that is often the rhetorical equivalent of, "I know you are but what am I?"
As we wend our way towards the mid-term elections, the name calling and stupidity are in high gear and right wing bullies are predictably beating the stuffing out of their favorite whipping boys, those weak-on-defense-liberal-weenies and the "librul" media.
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter offers some advice on "How to Beat 'Cut and Run'" which includes some very insightful analysis of the tactics of that master demagogue Karl Rove.
For more than a quarter century, Karl Rove has employed a simple, brilliant, counterintuitive campaign tactic: instead of attacking his opponents at their weakest point, the conventional approach, he attacks their strength. He neutralizes that strength to the point that it begins to look like weakness.
As a strategy this amounts to hitting your opponent in his "center of gravity." In warfare it would be the equivalent of wiping out the Command Operations Center, communications hub, or some other pivotal installation. Once accomplished you leave your enemy scrambling and uncoordinated. In Karl Rove's hands its things like the "Swift-boating" of John Kerry; turning a war hero into a coward to the point where the same knuckle-dragging troglodytes, who normally lionize the military, take to sporting band-aids with purple hearts on them in mockery of valor. It's an astounding feat on many levels; a triumph of brutal illogic over fact that Rove and his cohorts accomplish again and again.
After escaping indictment, Rove is focused again on what he does best: ginning up the slime machine. Anyone who dares criticize President Bush's Iraq policy is a "cut-and-run" Democrat. The White House's object here is not to engage in a real debate about an exit strategy from Iraq; that would require acknowledging some complications, like the fact that Gen. George Casey, commander of the multinational forces in Iraq, believes it's time to start bringing some troops home. The object is instead to either get the Democrats tangled up in Kerryesque complexities on Iraq—or intimidate them into changing the subject to other, less-potent issues for fear of looking like unpatriotic pansies.
Indeed "real debate" is never the object of the right wing noise machine. Put simply, they cannot win on facts; only by turning logic on its ear and inverting reality itself. Astonishingly they have been accomplishing just that for years, leaving those of us in the "reality based community" shaking our heads in wonderment... and getting pantsed.
As Frank Rich points out in today's New York Times, they are relying on that age old technique of tyrants: scapegoating. Just as Hitler blamed the Jews for every ill confronting post-WWI Germany, Bush's political machine is cleverly distracting from his collapsing foreign and domestic policies by vilifying the New York Times for its reportage.
The history of that scapegoating begins on the Friday morning, June 23, that The Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal all published accounts of the Swift program first posted on the Web the night before. In his press briefing that morning, Tony Snow fielded many questions about the program's legality. But revealingly, for all his opportunities, he never attacked the news media....
By Monday, the president had entered the fray and Mr. Snow was accusing The Times of putting the "public's right to know" over "somebody's right to live." What had happened over the weekend to prompt this escalation of hysteria? The same stuff that always happens when the White House scapegoats the press (or anyone else): bad and embarrassing news that the White House wants to drown out.
With the dramatic capture of the seven wannabe terrorists rapidly degenerating into slapstick comedy, General Casey drafting actual plans to "cut and run" from Iraq, and Lawrence Wilkinson testifying before Congress that his former boss Colin Powell's presentation in front of the UN in 2003 was "the perpetuation of a hoax," a political show of strength was urgently needed. For team Bush that means whipping it out in the locker room to show whose is bigger. And those pointy headed intellectuals at the New York Times were just asking for a wedgie.
As discussed here abusers abuse because they're abusers. It's really that simple. And fact based arguments alone won't disarm them. The only way to deal with a bully is to stand up to him. Or as Alter suggests:
We'll see this summer if Democrats begin to get up in the morning, look in the mirror and say, "This isn't about us. It's about them." We'll see if, when Karl Rove wants to talk about Iraq, the Democrats respond with three familiar words: "Bring it on."