Thursday, July 30, 2009

Matthew Norman: The insanity and enduring racism of the American right.

I've written before about the differences between American Republicans and British Tories and the fact that Cameron's American counterparts are far more insane than any right wing Brit would ever be allowed to be.

Some of the differences I noted were:

Bush, when asked about the criticism of waterboarding - which he refuses to see as torture, despite the fact that the US itself has prosecuted people for doing that very thing - asked, "Which attack would they rather not have stopped?" He actually acted as if this could be sold as a "red pen or blue pen" scenario where one has to choose between torture and attacks.

No British politician could dare sit on national TV and make that argument.

But in the US, Bill O'Reilly can sit on national television and actually argue that people
who oppose torture are "despicable".

This is an example of just how radical and extreme the current American right wingers are. There simply is no British equivalent to the Republican party, unless one reaches towards the BNP and other extremists.

The Tories might sound like them on matters like tax cuts and deregulation, but when it comes to social policy they simply wouldn't dare make the arguments that are regularly made by the American right wing.

Any British politician who proposed
teaching creationism in schools would instantly be regarded as on the outer fringes of intelligent debate, but Bush argued for that very thing and was seen as playing to the base, rather than as someone who had blatantly lost his mind.

The notion that David Cameron could hope to get elected by opposing abortion is silly on it's face, and yet the Republicans put forward Sarah Palin as a candidate for Vice President precisely because
she held such views.

Imagine what the Republican base would do if McCain, or any candidate for the Republican ticket,
said this:
"I stood up in front of a Conservative conference, my first one as leader, and said that marriage was important, and as far as I was concerned it didn’t matter whether it was between a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and a woman," he said.
"No other Conservative leader has ever done that. I don’t think any Labour leader has done that. Even since then. The good thing was that they applauded."
And yet that is precisely what David Cameron did. The sky did not fall in and there were no calls for his head. Indeed, the Conservatives realised that they needed to change their stance on a lot of these issues in order to have any chance of ever getting re-elected, which is why they applauded.

In the US, the Republican party appears to have been kidnapped by radical extremists.
Today, the brilliant Matthew Norman of the Independent has a look at the Republicans and the insane theory of the birthers.

People like myself always believed that the Republicans would react to their crushing defeat at the hands of Obama by claiming that the problem was that the Republicans had not been right wing enough. But, as Norman rightly states, we greatly underestimated just how bonkers the American right wing would actually go.

Concerns that the Grand Old Party would respond to Obama's near landslide by aping the post-1997 Tories, and adhering to the Tebbitian doctrine that the only mistake was in not being nasty and insular enough, prove naïve. The Republicans now make the Tories at their dog-whistling absolute worst seem achingly inclusive.

Who leads them at the minute is a mystery. Some think it's Sarah Palin, others the deliriously repugnant Rush Limbaugh, who inevitably joins the other oracles of US radio and TV in keeping the birther debate bubbling. What leadership there is, so it seems to this ignorant observer across the ocean, comes from the grass roots ... the sort of God fearin', gun-totin', sister-shaggin' sweethearts who screeched "terrorist" and "kill him" when John McCain mentioned Obama on the stump. Unable to compute that America elected a black man, they have decided that he isn't their President at all. No longer can they use the "n" word or fantasise publicly about lynch mobs. But they can divert their rage into a bogus legalistic dispute, rejected time and again by the Supreme Court, as freely as they like.

And their elected representatives follow them in dumb terror. A Huffington Post reporter approached a clutch of Republican congressmen on Capitol Hill this week to ask if they think Obama was born on US soil. Several scurried away, one at a trot, without replying. Another spent 20 minutes pretending to examine CDs in a shop to avoid the question. The only one prepared to answer said that Obama was a natural born citizen "so far as I'm aware" – an echo of Hillary Clinton doing her genteel bit to foster the myth about him being a Muslim sleeper during the primaries by referring to him as a Christian "so far as I know".

It's worth reading the entire thing, which you can do by clicking on the title, but, Matthews detects one truth in the whole of the birther fiasco: and that is that, "America is waking to the realisation that untold millions aren't even close to accepting the democratic will that put a black man in the White House."

To that end they claim that he isn't even an American, far less their duly elected president.

It's a form of insanity that no British Tory would ever be allowed to indulge in. But, as the truly insane now make up the bulk of the Republican base, American right wingers are now forced into pretending that this insanity might actually have some validity.

It's a truly pathetic sight to witness. And it's worse than anything I could have ever imagined when I said that Obama's victory would cause them to self destruct. None of us could have foreseen this obscene spectacle on the horizon.

Click title for Matthews article.

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