Perhaps that title is a bit much…..then again, perhaps not. It refers to the role I felt that the senior Senator from Arizona has played in the legitimization of unqualified demagogues being considered appropriate candidates for higher office. Arguably, this process did not come into full swing until then GOP Presidential nominee decided to nominate the now former half-term Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate in 2008.
I had a post on August 29, 2008 reviewing the likely picks on the eve of the pick itself. It detailed the three main remaining likely candidates; their plusses and minuses (there were plenty of those); and their likelihood to be picked. Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin were the finalists I was convinced would be most likely.
Though I had heard of Governor Palin, unlike most Americans, long before this, I admit I didn’t have a lot of information on her. I, like nearly everyone else in the world, assumed that someone with the allegedly superior judgment of Senator John McCain would certainly not offer the vice-presidency to someone who he hadn’t completely vetted and was not comfortable with having one heartbeat away from the presidency. Boy, was I (we) wrong.
While we did not wind up with the demagogic governor as our Vice-President something nearly as bad happened. Rather than reinforce that it was not a great idea for people with little grasp of actual facts and knowledge of current events to run for higher office, her candidacy, because of it’s stalwart defense by the right, legitimized the ability of people who would have previously been shamed out of making a run for public office to now run for public office.
It no longer mattered that you could only name one or two Supreme Court justices; could neither quote nor explain exactly what the second amendment meant despite your stalwart support of it; heck, you no longer had to be able to even present the School House Rock version of how a bill becomes law (not a bad basic explanation).
Rather, when questioned on their grasp of subject matter that would behoove a Vice-President, Senator, Congressman or Governor to know, they can now claim that the ‘liberal-elite media’ is out to get them with ‘gotcha’ questions. These ‘gotcha’ questions were how we winnowed the wheat from the chaff when I was growing up.
It has now become unacceptable to present the chaff as anything other than whole kernal grain. It can look like chaff, speak like chaff and act like chaff but if you accuse, or even imply it might be chaff, you’re a member of the liberal-elite media, even if your name is David Brooks or David Frum.
Sarah Palin, Jan Brewer, Sharon Angle and Christine O’Donnell join the pantheon of demagogues that used to be restricted to the radio and FoxNews airwaves. Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity and Glen Beck used to have the demagoguery field to themselves. Now the GOP put the demagogues up for election.
Mind you, this is not without pushback from the ‘mainstream’ GOP. But just what is an uncharismatic bunch of people led by John Boehner and Mitch McConnell going to do? Certainly RNC Chairman Michael Steele can’t lead the charge because although I’ve seen him present cogent arguments in the past, he seems to have lost it completely since he took the RNC helm.
But some of these candidates, like Joe Miller in Alaska got nothing but grief from the GOP before their primary win. Now Senator Lisa Murkowski is getting all sorts of grief running as a write-in candidate against the ‘party’s candidate’. The GOP, not knowing what to make of the forces it has unleashed has no choice but to ‘go with the flow’ until it can figure out what is going on.
I haven’t been publishing regularly for almost two years. The last presidential election burned me out. But these events cannot go unchallenged by the left. There has to be pushback from our side. There has to be a challenge to the insanity being spewed by more than a few on the right.
As before, I’m sure many on the left will accuse me of being too centrist and accomadating while those in the middle to the right will accuse me of being anything from liberal, to socialist, to (these people have little understanding of the term or it’s genesis) fascist. Such is the life of a blogger or anyone who speaks out. My skin isn’t the thickest (my downfall) but keep it fairly civil and maybe we can have a conversation.
I look forward to posting regularly again and I hope the next two years don’t burn me out as much as 2007 and 2008 did. Not posting is no longer an option as there is too much in the ‘narrative’ that needs to be disputed and repudiated. My voice may be a small one but I am determined to add to chorus arrayed against these demagogues.