Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Anti-Conservative Behavior

Like Shimp (in the previous posting), I am troubled by the message of the media mouthpieces of modern conservatism. They have lost their way.

I thought conservatives (and, by direct connection, the Republican Party) were supposed to represent individual (private) rights and public financial restraint; however, if you look at the words of the dominant "conservative" pundits, you don't see these values. For example, Fox News has abandoned any critique of the current administration and instead has become tabloid, prying into the sad life of Brittany Spears and harshly judging Amy Winehouse because she struggles with addiction.

These pundits do not represent conservatism; they are simply media whores, cashing in by judging other people. Old school conservatives would call this "sinful behavior."

As for the time-honored "conservative" tenet of financial restraint, when you look at the behavior of the current administration, you'll see a president that has spent more dollars than any other president in American history....while lowering taxes at the same time. Conservatives should find this irresponsible, shouldn't they? So, why is Bill O'Reilly focused on Amy Winehouse? Because she's an easy target.

Here's the latest fiscal policy from the White House: Instead of creating a jobs infrastructure program that would put people to work and update the country's infrastructure (bridges and highways), President Bush chooses a simple cash giveaway stimulus package. Huh? I thought this was the party that wanted to eliminate welfare and other "government giveaways." I'm not following the logic here. Where are the conservative critics? Silent on this topic. In his latest article in the NY Times, Bill Kristol takes Barack Obama to task for not wearing an American flag lapel pin.

Now, I realize that creating a government-run jobs package is a liberal idea, so you can trash that idea if you want (in true Conservative style) but isn't the idea of just giving people money even more offensive to conservatives? I want to hear from Republicans on this one. Are there any true conservatives left out there?

The other anti-conservative development that makes no sense to me relates to the messages fashioned by the current crop of Republican "pundits": Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, William Kristol, Ann Coulter, among others.

These "conservative" pundits sound increasingly like fascists.

I understand.....most of their rhetoric is contrived to sell books and/or generate advertising revenue, so that's the ugly joke, but the final outcome is more serious and involves the establishment of a certain, rigid code of behavior that, by implication, must be followed by everyone at all times.

Barack Obama must wear a flag lapel pin. Amy Winehouse must be drug-free before she can be eligible for a Grammy (and Rush Limbaugh must be drug-free before he can win an award for radio?). It goes on and on. Just watch Fox News on any evening and you'll see the smear campaign at work: "We don't like you, so we will public ally smear you." It's like they politically lynch someone every evening. It's frightening.

Is this what Conservatism and the Republican Party have devolved into? Big cash giveaways from the government, micromanaging the behavior of individual people, drug-related litmus tests for musicians, and public/political lynchings? Geez. I thought the Republicans were focused on being productive, not delving into such foolishness as attacking Hillary Clinton's choice of hat (I'm not making this up). And do we really want drug-free musicians?

Isn't this the party of Rush Limbaugh? Hasn't Rush railed for years against "feminazis" and "political correctness"---those forces that would tell us what to believe and how to behave? It seems, today, that his party is the new enforcer of PC. "Wear that flag lapel pin, goddam it, or we'll castrate you politically...we'll even attack your wife."

All this seems dishonorable to me, as a conservative person.

The irony is that "PC" is all we hear today from the Republican pundits: "You either behave as we tell you to behave or we're going to smear you in every way we can."

What the hell has happened? I guess it's a combination of things. First, it is an appeal to the lowest common denominator in society: Rather than addressing important problems, it's a lot easier to smear anybody we don't like.

Second, as mentioned, it generates ratings. Preaching to the choir goes back thousands of years, so Hannity, O'Reilly, and Coulter continue to provide orgasm after ideological orgasm to their readers/viewers.

Third, as much as I hate to say this, public lynchings have attracted crowds as long as lynchings have been held in public. The style of Fox News "journalism" is not an effort to provide the viewer with both sides of a reasonably objective argument; not at all. Instead, it involves smearing people with contrivances and hyped-up rhetoric. It is a nightly, public lynching of some one's reputation and personality (and they're not above personal attacks, as well, involving some one's stature, choice of clothing, accent).

But, I guess if you don't like Hillary Clinton, you love seeing her smeared every night on Fox News. So, the show must go on.

As entertaining as all of this is, I believe it does not bode well for the Republican party. True conservatism in the US is dead; just ask George Will. It has been subsumed by political and market forces that have agendas other than the authentic support of Conservative policies. Fox News---owned by an Aussie---has clearly reshaped and degraded the political landscape.

William F. Buckley is one of only a few true Conservatives alive these days.

As for me, I am a conservative Democrat. There are times I would like to see the Republican Party really, really, really become conservative. I keep waiting. But while they give lip service to fiscal restraint and personal responsibility, the party pundits write about lapel pins (or the lack thereof) and micromanaging the behavior of private citizens while they smear anybody who does not behave in a certain, prescribed manner.

They have become the enforcers of political correctness.


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