Quote of the day

Channeling the spirit of the psychoanalytic Marxist Wilhelm Reich, David Rosen wrote:

Are hypocrites born or made? Is false consciousness a social disease? These are among the unasked questions haunting the 2012 Republican presidential race.

The four surviving candidates are hypocrites. Mitt Romney is the guy-next-door everyman with a quarter-billion-dollars in his pocket; Rick Santorum is the blue-collar everyman who has learned to work the corporate con for self-serving ends; Ron Paul is the white everyman standing before a giant Confederate flag proclaiming that the South was right seceding from the Union; and then there is Newt Gingrich, the shameless everyman who sheds his past like a snake loses its old skin.

Gingrich is the most hypocritical presidential candidate in modern history. But the significance of his hypocrisy can only be fully appreciated in terms of his surprising Jan. 21st primary victory in South Carolina. Approximately 40 percent of registered Republicans willingly accepting his fiction. This is the politics of false consciousness.

What happens in Florida on Jan. 31st will be illuminating. It may well cut the Republican primary field being cut to two plus one; Santorum may exit while Paul hangs on like Ralph Nader did in 2000.

Quote of the day

David Vest took stock of the national Republican Party and its anti-Obama politics:

When the GOP retook the House and promptly made it clear that the supreme goal was to prevent Obama’s re-election, they showed themselves to be united by opposition, as never before. Nothing mattered except turning the president out of office. Nothing seemed more inevitable than Obama’s defeat.

And now look at them: a party dominated by evangelical Protestants, yet forced to choose from a pool of candidates that has so far included two Mormons, a couple of Catholic has-beens, a manifest dimwit from Texas, a wild-eyed nutjob from Minnesota, a singing pizza salesman and Ron Paul.

If there existed a sinister Republican plot to make Obama look like Charlemagne by comparison, how would it be different?

Vest on Newt:

If the media uncovered proof that Newt had stolen food stamps from his blind grandmother, shot three orphans in the back, and paid for a former gay lover’s sex change operation with taxpayer funds, would they dare to report it and suffer the fate of CNN’s John King? If so, Gingrich would promptly gather one hundred evangelicals together and explain that so great was his love of country, that his hard-working patriotism led him into houghmagandy with whoever was handy, in ways that were not always in accordance with his blah blah blah, and besides the elite media loves to use this kind of trash to tarnish America and protect Barack Obama. (Insert standing ovation here.)

Rodney Howard-Browne blesses Newt’s campaign

The logo of Revival Ministries International; ...

Sarah Posner reported that:

Today Newt Gingrich made an appearance at River Church in Tampa, Florida, pastored by Rodney Howard Browne. Slate’s Dave Weigel tweeted that in introducing Gingrich, Browne prayed that America “will not allow the killing of unborn babies, and the takeover of Islam” and “the Constitution that we have, and your word, and Jesus is the only way we can be delivered from this plight.”

Howard-Browne is a charismatic revivalist who preaches the Prosperity Gospel. His sect is called Revival Ministries International.

Gingrich, on the other hand, belongs to a well-known church to which many Republican politicians belong, the Opportunistic Pettifoging Mudslingers. I’m sure Howard-Browne and Gingrich have found common ground on which to stand.

Newt accused of playing the “Race Card”

For more, see this Think Progress article.


Update

Laura Flanders addressed Gingrich’s performance in South Carolina:

South Carolina. It’s going to be the state that keeps on giving to President Barack Obama. I’m not talking votes; I’m talking hate. Newt Gingrich’s primary win has the pundits praising his “debating skills,” but the less prudish among us can be clear: Gingrich’s skills aren’t rhetorical; they’re racial. He’s feeble at striking down his opponents’ arguments; what he’s great at is digging up his audience’s racial rage. It worked for the former Speaker in South Carolina; it’ll work against the Democrats all year.

Newt wins South Carolina primary

Gingrich’s comfortable victory over his rivals ought to slow the Romney train for a week or two.English: Newt Gingrich at a political conferen...

A political hit on Mitt Romney

The Winning Our Future PAC, a pro-Gingrich entity, now owns this one. The video is so focused and ruthlessly brutal in its critique of finance capitalism that that Occupy Movement could have produced it, as David Dayen pointed out.

When Mitt Romney Came to Town

One question: Is Newt now channeling his inner Red Rosa? It seems so!

Those crazy Tea Partiers

According to E.J. Dionne, the House Republicans are now seeking to reprise and play two past Republican strategies. On the one hand, Dionne assumes they want to blackmail a Democratic President by threatening to shut-down the Federal government. It is, of course, obvious the House Republicans adopted this tactic. Their choice might seem surprising to observers today since the use of it did not favor the Republican Party the last time a reactionary upsurge helped the Republican Party to gain control of the House. As we know, President Clinton soundly defeated Newt Gingrich and the House Republicans he led in a political battle over the budget, a conflict which ultimately destroyed Gingrich’s House career.

But choose it they did.

On the other hand, Dionne asserts the House Republicans are also drawing upon a tactic used by another disgraced Republican — Richard Nixon.

Richard Nixon espoused what he called “the madman theory.” It’s a negotiating approach that induces the other side to believe you are capable of dangerously irrational actions and leads it to back down to avoid the wreckage your rage might let loose.

House Republicans are pursuing their own madman theory in budget negotiations, with a clever twist: Speaker John Boehner is casting himself as the reasonable man fully prepared to reach a deal to avoid a government shutdown. But he also has to satisfy a band of “wild-eyed bomb-throwing freshmen,” as he characterized new House members in Friday’s Wall Street Journal by way of comparing them fondly to his younger self.

Thus are negotiators for President Obama and Senate Democrats forced to deal not only with Republican leaders in the room but also with a menacing specter outside its confines. As “responsible” public officials, Democrats are asked to make additional concessions just to keep the bomb-throwers at bay.

This is the perverse genius of what the House Republicans are up to: Nobody really thinks that anything like their $57 billion in remaining proposed budget cuts can pass. It’s unlikely that all of their own members are confident about all of the cuts they have voted for. But by taking such a large collection of programs hostage, the GOP can be quite certain to win many more fights than it would if each reduction were considered separately.

Does Dionne’s madman claim make sense in this case? Yes, I believe it does, for we may safely assume members of the recent Freshman Republican class do need a leash, newspaper on the floor when their master is otherwise occupied and rabies shots. The Tea Party Freshman class is, when evaluated with less facetious terms, composed of true believers of the reactionary line. It is unsurprising, then, that they largely ran on an anti-Obama platform while also challenging the Republican Party establishment, which they believed to be inauthentic in a decisive way.

That said, House Speaker Boehner, a co-author of the Contract with America, hardly provides a politically healthy alternative to the reactionaries. Dionne suggests as much when he states that “Boehner can just sit back and smile benignly as Democrats battle over which concessions they should give him.” Boehner can smile because he only wants to use the intransigence of reactionary freshman to blackmail President Obama just as Gingrich tried to blackmail Clinton years ago.

Why, we might now ask, would Boehner and the ‘sensible’ and ‘moderate’ House Republicans take the risk by using this dangerous tactic in 2011 given the known outcome it produced in 1995-1996? Why would Boehner wish to court Gingrich’s fate? The answer, I believe, can be gleaned in the fact that Obama is hardly a friend of Federal budget deficits, that he is committed to political compromise with the rightwing and that he has already gone on record as supporting austere budget goals. Consequently, Boehner and his followers can depend on Obama and the Congressional Democrats to reach a favorable agreement with them. They have bent to the will of the Republican Party before and can be expected to do so again.

And it is because Obama is a neoliberal opportunist that the reactionaries and their leaders in Washington can and will perform once more a chore for which they are well-suited, namely, serving as an origin of a political gravity that pulls the Federal Government and the national public political discourse to the right. America’s reactionaries — the black hole in American politics, an oblivion into which everything plunges.

The workings of this mechanism are well-known. It was, of course, working quite effectively during the Health Care Debate, and served, as we know, to pull Washington away from policy choices favored by the majority of the country while simultaneously pushing Washington towards those policies favored by the Health Care Industry.

In sum, then, the Federal budget battle and a possible government shut-down provide little more than evidence showing that the duopoly party system is functioning normally. By working normally I mean to say that the reactionaries will merely provide coverage for Washington’s ‘sensible’ politicians while they rid the country of the remnants of the New Deal.

Fortunately, common Americans — the “lesser people” — now have a political alternative to complying with the machinations of the duopoly parties. This alternative emerged in Madison, Wisconsin. It began when the “lesser people” refused the fate Scott Walker wished to give to them. It then proceeded to motivate the soft-liners in the Democratic Party to risk their careers by supporting a non-partisan social movement. While the Battle for Wisconsin has not been won, Americans can use these events to relearn what it means to be a citizen.

Cross-posted to FireDogLake

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