Cliff Schecter, 9/15/2011 [Archive]

Gallery Of Ghouls

Gallery Of Ghouls

By Cliff Schecter

Vampire movies and television programs may be all the rage right now, but not one of them has anything on a good old-fashioned audience of Republican debate watchers.

In a rather shocking—yet sadly, unsurprising—display of the bloodlust and viciousness usually reserved for members of law enforcement pulling over a driving-while-soused Mel Gibson, the so-called "party of life" has seen its most ardent adherents at the past two GOP debates belching out blood-curdling cheers in favor of untimely death. All of which tells you a little something about who these theoretical human beings are, and what they stand for—and it has not much to do with traditional small government conservatism.

In a recent debate on MSNBC, as it was being pointed out that Rick Perry rivals Kublai Khan in his propensity for stopping people's ability to breathe, Perry was roundly cheered by the crowd for his record-breaking string of executions in Texas. Debate attendees yelped like it was a home run in the World Series or successful moon mission, a sickening display whether one supports capital punishment or not (which I do in very limited circumstances).

Much like wolves hovering over a slab of meat or performance art directed by The Marquis de Sade, the activist tea party, Republican base seemed to delight in the deaths of others. They were Teddy Roosevelt...after burial in a Pet Sematary.

But even that was nothing like what happened during the Tea Party/CNN debate on September 12th, when the topic of discussion concerned who would pay to keep a 30-year old alive who lacked health insurance and had been in a terrible motorcycle accident. As Congressman Ron Paul was busy equating the death of this hypothetical easy rider with the "freedom" enjoyed by Americans, the crowd began to lustily cheer and yell "yeah," to the question of whether this accident victim should be allowed to die.

Think about that for a second. Weren't these the guys and gals who blew a gasket over the prospect of allowing the severely brain-damaged Terry Shiavo to rest in peace a few years back, and attacked her husband as some sort of ghoul for wanting his wife to die with dignity? Yet, these days, bringing a little more Torquemada to their death-panel decision-making would seem to have become the new hot thing among tea-party conservatives.

To his credit, even Governor Perry said he was taken back by the crowd's reaction. But let's think about that for a second—a guy who puts people to death like it's a bodily function was taken aback by the visible thrill that death provided to the GOP base.

Honestly, when Rick Perry is the voice of reason on an issue, one wonders who might satisfy these gremlins as commander in chief.

In an unrelated note, I hear Baby Doc Duvalier is looking for a job.

The truth is that this hatred, this fear, this anger—to paraphrase a certain evil emperor from a certain movie about wars in the stars—is driving most policy on the right these days.

Spending cuts are not about balancing budgets—or the tea partiers would be for raising taxes too. It's about hurting people—the undeserving poor, "illegal immigrants" other minorities, or "those darn libruls," which in the Rush-Limbaugh-inspired view, likely resembles the cast of La Cage Aux Folles.

Wars are also about punishing people (at least among this segment of the far right)—those who are not Christian enough or Western enough or maybe don't spend enough time watching Ax Men on cable.Again, it's about hurting those who deserve to be hurt, in their rather feudal outlook. Obviously torture fits right in here (which is part of the reason for the disillusionment on parts of the Left with President Obama, that he would join the Right in some of these depraved and self-sabotaging endeavors).

This is why you will find no reliable pattern in conservative policy in this age. Politics-by-resentment generally lacks the finer points of clarity and consistency.

In one of his seminal works in 1962, an editor and contributor to the compendium The Radical Right, brilliant sociologist and social commentator Daniel Bell, opined that "Today the politics of the right is the politics of frustration—the sour impotence of those who find themselves unable to understand, let alone command, the complex mass society that is the polity today."

Sometimes I think he had a crystal ball when he said that.

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©Copyright 2011 Cliff Schecter, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Cliff Schecter is the President of Libertas, LLC, a progressive public relations firm, and the author of the 2008 bestseller The Real McCain. Follow Cliff on Twitter @CliffSchecter.


This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.



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