The Baby Party
Digby via Atrios:
Kevin Drum has a whole bunch of good posts up today discussing the right wing reaction to the spying scandal. A more reprehensible group of moral and intellecutual cowards I have never seen.
There are the typical lies and obfuscations to which we've all become accustomed, of course, such as selectively citing passages of Supreme Court opinions that actually came to opposite conclusions and purposefully misconstruing Clinton and Carter's executive orders to imply that they had done the same thing. That's just par for the course.
But there are two things about this that do chap my hide and they are related. The first is that for 40 years --- and certainly for the last 25 since Reagan became president --- we have had to listen to endless blathering about how the Republicans want to "get the government out of your lives." "If someone says 'we're the government and we're here to help you' you should run." Rugged individualist Republicans, taking care of their own, not looking to the state to solve their problems like the betwetting girly men and manly girls on the left.
9/11 changed everything. Suddenly the he-men of WalMart and the NRA leaped into Big Brother's arms and shrieked "save me, save me! Do what ever you have to do, they're trying to kill us all!" They now look to Daddy Government not to discipline the children, but to check under the bed for them every night, reassure them that the boogeyman won't hurt them and then read them a nice bedtime story about spreading freedom and democracy. It turns out that underneath all this swaggering bravado, the Republicans aren't the Daddy party --- they're the baby party.
Of course, the right has traded on fear for so long that we can hardly remember a time when they didn't. If it isn't the commies, it's the hippies or the ATF or the terrorists. And as Kevin points out they make these ridiculous decisions over and over again because they are essentially afraid of their own shadows:
This idea that we are living in a unique time that calls for special measures is what they always say. (And this current fantasy about the unique threat that proved our oceans couldn't protect us is particularly rich considering they fearmongered a communist threat of total annihilation for decades.) Often cooler heads are able to quell the worst excesses (like the fervent belief that we needed to launch a tactical nuclear war against the commies) and satisfy the right wing's other ongoing paranoid fantasy --- the left as a fifth column --- with silly, wasteful surveillance of animal rights groups or Quakers or former Beatles (along with pernicious surveillance of their partisan opponents.)
They are rhinestone cowboys who are scared to death and don't know how to contain their fear. So they lash out at their domestic political enemies, who they can bluster about and pretend to be tough, while hiding behind the military uniforms of their Big Brother and Preznit Daddy (which is a real stretch when it comes to Junior.)
The fact that they continue to win elections as being the tough guys perhaps says more about our puerile culture than anything else. They lash out like frightened children and too many people see that as courage or resolve.
Violent Islamic fundamentalism is a serious problem, not an existential threat. And it's a difficult problem that requires adults who can keep their heads about them when the terrorists put on their scary show, not big-for-their-age eight year olds staging a temper tantrum.