Matt Taibbi: GOP gets what it has coming

February 25, 2012 | By | 13 Replies More

Matt Taibbi sums up what the GOP has been offering to America:

[W]hile watching the debates last night that it finally hit me: This is justice. What we have here are chickens coming home to roost. It’s as if all of the American public’s bad habits and perverse obsessions are all coming back to haunt Republican voters in this race: The lack of attention span, the constant demand for instant gratification, the abject hunger for negativity, the utter lack of backbone or constancy (we change our loyalties at the drop of a hat, all it takes is a clever TV ad): these things are all major factors in the spiraling Republican disaster.

Most importantly, though, the conservative passion for divisive, partisan, bomb-tossing politics is threatening to permanently cripple the Republican party. They long ago became more about pointing fingers than about ideology, and it’s finally ruining them.

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Category: American Culture, Corporatocracy, Corruption, hypocrisy, Orwellian, Politics, Propaganda

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (13)

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  1. Adam Herman says:

    He’s right about a lot of that, but I have to take issue with his contention that we change our opinions at the drop of a hat because of a TV ad. There’s only one Republican with money in this race: Romney. His opponents are swamped, yet managing to stay competitive. The debates are what are causing Republican voters to react. That’s a pretty exciting development, one that reformers supposedly wanted. Yet because Republican voters aren’t following the script and just supporting the guy with the most money, the same people that claim to hate money in politics call it a “circus”.

    I actually wonder if reformers are scared of a process where voters actually weigh the candidates by their merits. I think democracy actually scares a lot of so-called reformers. They want an orderly system, not a chaotic one where any candidate can come out of nowhere and win.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Adam: I think that you’re right that a full-fledged democracy scares a lot of people, me included. For me, the problem is that so many of us are exuberantly un-curious about so many things (science, geography, economics, public health) and severely afflicted with innumeracy. This makes many of us dangerous voters, susceptible to politicians who promise things that they can’t possibly deliver on. We also seem to be an attention deficit society, unable to focus on anything requiring long-term commitment; instead, we deal as best we can with the emergency de jure. In order to have a functioning Democracy, we need to take education much more seriously. What am I basing this sorry state of eduction on? things like this: “A nonprofit group says that up to 90 percent of young Philadelphians are ineligible for military service because of criminal records, obesity or lack of education.” http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2010/06/ap_philadelphia_unfit_061410/

      It’s enough to turn one into a chronic pessimist; it does not seem that America will pull out of this nosedive any time soon.

  2. Adam Herman says:

    There is one unintended consequence of reducing the amount of money spent on campaigns that could be construed as positive if it didn’t compete with another priority of the reform movement.

    That would be the fact that campaigns with few ads also have low voter participation. This is because campaign ads don’t just advertise for or against a candidate, they also serve to promote the election itself. There are plenty of “get out and vote” ad campaigns, but those are ineffective because most people don’t vote because they should. They vote because they are motivated by something, either support for a candidate or opposition to a candidate. I realize that reformers want to increase voter participation, but in practice reducing money spent on campaigns tends to increase voter apathy. However, assumedly, since voters aren’t relying on campaign ads, they are making more informed votes. So that’s good, right? Fewer voters, but more intelligent voters?

  3. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Over the years I’ve heard all sort of rationalizations to vote for candidates. He’s good looking, he was a successful actor, they say he worked wonders as governor, so-and-so is really smart an he says vote for that guy, but the worst excuse is “I’m voting for so-and-so because he’s going to win.”

    There is a large bloc of voters who vote for who they are convinced will be the winner, and many of them pick their winner based more on the amount of TV coverage the candidate gets, regardless of their stand on the issues.

    TV has proven itself as a powerful way to manipulate the voters, It has trained us to be like dried sponges, willing to adsorb hate inspiring rhetoric as if it is the truth, willing to suspend our human sensibilities and even more willing to let a face on the boob-tube tell us how and what to think.

    The current circus of the GOP nomination process is beginning to turn away from TV and to the Internet. This can make things much worse, as most voters will seek sites that reaffirm their political opinions while a minority with seek opposing views and decide themselves which view has more merit.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Adam: As you point out, money isn’t everything in an election. True enough. If you can become the media darling, that is the equivalent of millions of dollars. Same thing if you can convince the media that you are a freak, as Rick Santorum is doing.

    But let’s focus on Mitt Romney, who is likely going to win the GOP nomination. Without millions and millions of dollars that are pushing him to the finish line, much of it illegal except for Citizens United, he wouldn’t be on the radar screen at all. He has used massive amounts of PAC money to carpet bomb his opponents, and this strategy has been working, despite the fact Romney is not well liked by most Republicans, even some of those who are voting for him (listen to his supporters –they don’t sound enthused like Santorum’s supporters or Ron Paul’s supporters). For Romney, the money is buying the nomination. The media, over and over, declares him to be a “serious” candidate because of his MONEY, not his ideas. Just because Santorum is putting up a fight at the moment doesn’t mean Citizens United is allowing him to buy the kind of “speech” this country needs.

  5. Adam Herman says:

    I think that Romney would probably still be winning even if he didn’t have money, although I’m not confident of that. For better or worse, he is the most electable candidate in the field and many GOP voters care deeply about that, just as many Democrats in 2004 set aside everything else in the quest to beat George Bush and nominated another Massachusetts politician whose views were hard to decipher.

    One thing I wonder though, in the post-Citizens United world, is whether the flood of money is actually inuring voters(is that the right word?) to the ad campaigns. The Republican campaign is being driven primarily by debate performances. There’s only two candidates with money left, Romney, and Ron paul a distant second in the money race. And Paul’s effectively supporting Romney by attacking Santorum and Gingrich. yet it doesn’t seem to help much. If this holds true in the general, then the President’s billion dollar campaign might end up being wasted money.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      But Adam, what if Romney didn’t have that huge money machine churning away, even years ago in preparation for this election. Who else might have stepped into the race? Or perhaps one of the other candidates (Huntsman?) would have picked up some early momentum. This is the era of swiftboating. Anyone can be swiftboated by anyone else with a ton of money. Nothing can turn off the lie machine, and it works, not perfect, but often enough, to sway elections away from issues and toward lies and distractions that can only be defended with a pile of money possessed by the victim of the swiftboating, and sometimes even that is not enough. We can do a whole lot better than this. There are ways to cultivate an “organic” nationwide conversation based on the merits of the ideas and true record of those who step forward as candidates.

  6. Adam Herman says:

    I’m just not seeing that in this election, or the last one. The Swift Boat ads were run in the era of BCRA. So far the Republican fight has been pretty clean. Not positive, to be sure, but at least clean.

  7. Rob Fabris says:

    Erich,
    I take deep exception to your quote in this article “Most importantly, though, the conservative passion for divisive, partisan, bomb-tossing politics is threatening to permanently cripple the Republican party. They long ago became more about pointing fingers than about ideology, and it’s finally ruining them.” Ironically I fond this while searching for literature on Propoganda. The oneside nature of your remark is utterly proposterious. Just watch the t.v and see all the democrats that blasted the Bush Administration on Gas Prices. This is not divisive or just more propoganda? Man look around it is like the plague and no one steps up and calls anyone out from their home sides. Just be fair when categorizing that is all anyone could wish for in this chaoatic world.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Rob:

      1. The language that offends you is Matt Taibbi’s, not my own.
      2. I agree with Matt Taibbi’s point.
      3. You must be new to this site, because you can’t go more than a few days before I level heavy criticism at Barack Obama.
      4. Why, oh why, do so many people assume that when I criticize one political party that I should be deemed, as a result of that criticism, to be uncritically embracing the other major party? America (including you, Rob) desperately needs to shed it’s uber-tribal ways.

  8. Adam Herman says:

    He is. Which means he should be winning easily, but he’s not. It’s been all about the debates this cycle. Well, that and “who is the real conservative”, which is pretty funny because everyone in the field has serious heresies. Huntsman was actually the most substantially conservative of the field but he talked like a moderate so they figured he must be a moderate.

    It’ll be funny if they go through all that trouble just to pick a new candidate at the convention.

  9. Tim Hogan says:

    Erich, Missouri’s primary doesn’t allocate a single delegate hence, no Romney spending in Missouri. The delegates in Missouri will be awarded in caucuses later in march. if the delegates wereew at stake in the Missouri primary, Republicans’ rules would cut our number of delegates in half like it did for Florida.

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