Michael Stafford, 3/28/2012 [Archive]

Conservative Crush Porn

Conservative Crush Porn

By Michael Stafford

Conservative political advertisements are becoming increasingly unhinged.

Herman Cain was already known for his odd political ads during his brief presidential candidacy.Since leaving the campaign trail, Cain's explored new artistic ground in a series of anti-stimulus advertisements that feature fish being tortured and bunnies being shot.

Yes, Herman Cain is apparently now producing the political equivalent of conservative crush porn. Perhaps his next ad will feature Sarah Palin in stilettos stomping on bugs?Take that, stimulus-beetle!

Meanwhile, Rick Santorum, who is still a legitimate presidential contender, is running advertisements that could serve as the basis for a clinical case study in Obama Derangement Syndrome.Consider one of his latest ads, "Obamaville," which is as dark as any commercial produced by a serious candidate in recent memory.As Paul Waldman has observed, Santorum seems to be suggesting in the ad that Obama's re-election would transform America "into some combination of 'The Day After' and 'Saw.'"

One day, historians will look back on these advertisements and conclude that conservatism had reached an intellectual and moral nadir, and had only two political cards left to play:fear and anger.Lacking a positive program of its own, it has opted to push paranoid delusions instead.That's what these advertisements are really all about. What's significant is the window they provide into the anxiety-plagued psyche of segments of the GOP base. They say far more about those that made them, and about their intended audience, than they do about Obama.

As David Frum observed shortly after President Obama's election, "to listen to Fox News and other conservative media, you'd think we were living in Czechoslovakia in the final hours before the 1948 communist coup." If anything, the feverish rhetoric has only grown worse since then.In this apocalyptic vision of the world, liberty hangs perilously by a thread.And President Obama, who is alternately conceived of as a Marxist, a Muslim, or a Mau Mau- and sometimes, as all three simultaneously- is out tear up the Constitution, destroy Christianity, impoverish us, and steal our unhealthy sugary desserts right out of our kitchen cupboards.

Of course, all of this is irrational.It is an emotional rant, not a reasoned argument. There is no objective basis for such views.But it is a vision of the world pushed relentlessly by the radical right and the conservative entertainment complex, who play on our fears and anxieties by conjuring up endless bogeymen-illegal immigrants, Socialists, Communists, Muslims, climate scientists, the media, even public employees- on whom to pin blame. This is a delirium; a delusion.But it's also something a bit more- it's an intentional lie.

We live in a nation marked by increasing economic and financial uncertainty for most Americans.We all worry about what we would do if we lost our jobs.Most of us stand just a pink slip and some missed paychecks away from financial ruin.

Our children face an uncertain future; one characterized, for the first time in our history, by less opportunity.Because we love them, this knowledge is sorrow.

These realities generate profound anxiety, and legitimately so.

Confronting them head-on requires an open an honest discussion about the limits of our reliance on market mechanisms, about how to reverse runaway income inequality and create a more equitable distribution of burdens and benefits in our society, and about how to make our government more responsive to, and representative of, us.Such a discussion would be cathartic, liberating even.

Instead, American conservatives have become the victims of a cheap confidence trick.It's all the fault of the guy with the foreign-sounding name in the White House and his scary America-hating atheist liberal friends.

At a moment when real villains abound, conservatives have been sold imaginary ones by those who would manipulate their (often legitimate) anger and anxieties for the benefit of an oligarchic, rent-seeking elite determined to retain control and stifle reform.Paranoia, after all, is always a tempting psychological false-harbor for the frightened during a storm.

Forget about President Obama. If you want good-cause to worry about our future, just gaze into the darkness of Cain and Santorum's commercials.Tormented by nightmare visions, the far right is being led down the path to dystopia by the Pied Pipers of the conservative entertainment complex.

And they are beckoning the rest of the nation to follow.


©Copyright 2012 Michael Stafford, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Michael Stafford is a former Republican Party officer and the author of "An Upward Calling." Michael can be reached at anupwardcalling@yahoo.com

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

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