Sunday, August 09, 2009

Why Are The Crazy Right Wingers Treated So Deferentially?

I suppose most Americans are so used to their own right wing that they see nothing unusual in what is going on at the moment. Crazy people are behaving crazily, why would anyone expect any different?

But that's not how it looks from across the pond, where things that Americans shrug at, are being looked at in amazement.

From The Guardian:

But Sarah Palin, the Republican's former vice-presidential candidate, raised the temperature in the debate by declaring Obama's plans "downright evil" and accusing him of introducing a care rationing system that could threaten her own mentally handicapped child.

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down's syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide… whether they are worthy of healthcare," she wrote on her Facebook page.

Palin's astonishing comments were an incendiary contribution to a national debate that is threatening to spill over into civil disorder.

The Republicans are behaving insanely, making allegations of euthanasia etc., which would simply be considered unacceptable in any other democracy.

What is it about the American media where one side are allowed to indulge in such abhorrent scaremongering and the press don't eat them alive for it? Why is this kind of fantastical nonsense allowed to pass as political discourse?

The fact that the AstroTurfers are really simply Republicans is becoming too obvious for even the press to ignore.
One woman who protested at a public meeting held by Wisconsin congressman Steve Kagen, a Democrat, had said she was "just a mom" but turned out to be a former senior Republican party official. "They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems," said Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein.
However, for the most part, the US press - as far as I can see - are treating this story with deference, pretending that ordinary Americans are up in arms because they don't want universal healthcare, an opinion which is not backed up by any poll I can find.

One person wrote in to Andrew Sullivan's blog to make an interesting point:
Your obvious shock and dismay at the sheer angry ignorance of the health care teabaggers reiterates my largest problem with your rosy immigrant's view of America. You have often underestimated just how poisonously dangerous the American populist right is.

I don't blame you. You came to America after the rise of Reagan. Most of your life in America, you have lived under different Republican presidents who placated these folks with platitudes and campaign rhetoric. The one period when the populist right didn't feel they had a fellow traveler in charge was when Bill Clinton was elected (thanks to the reactionaries splitting their votes). You remember, no doubt, the level of crazy Clinton had to defuse and dodge, and this was a man who had the advantage of being a Southern bubba who has dealt which such people all his life.

For most of your time in America, this insanity has been muted by the success of conservative politics. Since you live in Washington, you probably saw daily the face of the successful conservative political establishment that milked the populist right, and by milking them kept their bitterness at a manageable level. That safety valve was stuffed up by George Bush's failed presidency.

So now, these people are facing their worst fears; actual change

A political and demographic re-alignment is happening before their eyes, and they are reaching back into their old bag of tricks of intimidation, violence, and apocalyptic fearmongering. You are British, Andrew. You love this country, and we love you for it. But you didn't grow up around these folks, and you don't realize what a permanent and potent part of the American political landscape they are.

They have always been with us, the people who believed in manifest destiny, who delighted in the slaughter of this land's original inhabitants, who cheered a nation into a civil war to support an economic system of slavery that didn't even benefit them. They are the people who bashed the unions and cheered on the anti-sedition laws, who joined the Pinkertons and the No Nothing Party, who beat up Catholic immigrants and occasionally torched the black part of town. They rode through the Southern pine forests at night, they banned non-European immigration, they burned John Rockefeller Jr. in effigy for proposing the Grand Tetons National Park.

These are the folks who drove Teddy Roosevelt out of the Republican Party and called his cousin Franklin a communist, shut their town's borders to the Okies and played the protectionist card right up til Pearl Harbor, when they suddenly had a new foreign enemy to hate. They are with us, the John Birchers, the anti-flouride and black helicopter nuts, the squirrly commie-hating hysterics who always loved the loyalty oath, the forced confession, the auto-de-fe. Those who await with baited breath the race war, the nuclear holocaust, the cultural jihad, the second coming, they make up much more of America then you would care to think.
I understand why Sullivan might be shocked at what he is witnessing, as it's a shock which I share, being a fellow Brit.

There are crazy people in every political movement, that simply goes with the territory. What astonishes me here is that the media aren't calling them crazy. Why are people allowed on American TV to talk about Obama's "death panels" without being ridiculed? Why aren't the media pointing out that Medicare is a government run programme and that people who protest to save Medicare from being taken over by the government are almost willfully ignorant?

I know that, in the interests of always appearing politically unbiased, both sides have to be heard in the media; but one side should not be allowed to spew such lies and nonsense and have it reported as if it were fact.

In the UK the media would report what both sides are saying and then try to authenticate what it is that is being claimed. In the US, as far as I can make out, the media act as if they are no more than stenographers; as if their job is to report what both sides say and leave it for you to work out who is telling the truth.

This is a system which the Republican ruthlessly exploit to simply spread fear by making claims (about things like euthanasia) which would be laughable in any other democracy. If the Tories ever made such a ludicrous claim they would be lampooned endlessly and turn themselves into a national joke.

In the US the Republicans get away with this. That's astonishing. Genuinely astonishing.

The fact remains that most Americans still favour a public option in health care and a raising of the taxes of the wealthy to pay for it. Not that you would have any idea of that were you following the US media.

Click title for full article.


daveawayfromhome said...

I think there are several things coming together here, in addition to those things stated in the quote. Partially, it's the appalling state of education in America, which has been subverted by No Child Left Behind and its attendant testing corporations derailing learning in favor of testing. Add to that the concentration of media ownership, at least some of whom are apparently in league with the crazys (Disney and Murdoch, anyone?). Then throw in good old-fashioned yellow journalism and the spinelessness of the Democratic party and you have the makings of a perfect storm, which I think is about to hit this nation with its wall-cloud anytime now.

Kel said...

It's extraordinary how stupid a lot of these people are, believing in things which are palpable nonsense.

I mean the euthanasia claims are especially dumb, and the notion that people take these claims seriously in a country where euthanasia is outlawed simply beggars belief.

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