It pains me to say it – well, not really because I actually enjoy writing about the idiocy of the right – but conservatism is fast approaching double face palm territory. Have you ever seen such a collection of losers, dunces, moral cretins, and blissfully unaware candidates for high office as showed up for last night’s CNBC debate?
You have a certified imbecile (Perry). A serial sexual harasser (Cain). A chronic flip flopper (Romney). A man who can’t keep his pants zipped (Gingrich). A lunatic (yes Paulbots – advocating a return to the gold standard is bat guano crazy). A religious zealot (Santorum). A Simon Legree clone (Michele “If anyone will not work, neither should he eat” Bachmann). And a candidate who can’t decide whose side he’s on (Huntsman).
It is to weep. At exactly the moment in American history when a rational, logical, coherent conservatism is desperately needed to counter the left’s drive to take us over a fiscal and cultural cliff, we not only get candidates who fall short in almost every substantive yardstick one might desire to measure the worthiness of a nominee, we also have conservatives en mass who cheer for ignorance, applaud mediocrity, roar for moral turpitude, and display an appalling lack of respect for basic conservative principles.
The Herman Cain fiasco is a case in point. One or two women coming forward might be cause for questioning the veracity of the accusers, or blaming the mess on the press. But 5 women coming forward with more rumored to be in the wings? This is not the liberal media going after a conservative candidate, or a case of Democratic women making false accusations. This is a clear pattern of behavior that is totally unacceptable to most rational people, and certainly to most of the electorate.
And yet, Politico reports Cain’s response to a question about hiring a CEO accused of harassment:
The embattled Republican candidate brushed aside the premise of the question and – as he did at an Arizona press conference Tuesday – described reports of alleged sexual harassment as a smear campaign.
“The American people deserve better than someone being tried in the court of public opinion based on unfounded accusations,” Cain said. “This country’s looking for leadership and this is why a lot of people, despite what has happened over the last nine days, are still very enthusiastically behind my candidacy.”
The audience was on his side: They booed the initial question and cheered his response.
Cain changed his original answer to the allegations at least three times, which brings up the question of whether he’s a serial liar as well. The press didn’t make him alter his narrative – he did that all on his own, with no help from the “liberal media.”
Don’t tell that to his supporters who appear to be blaming the media for their candidate’s transgressions and his inability to keep his story straight. It is ironic that after spending 8 years chastising Bill Clinton for his harassment of women, that so many conservatives would abandon reason and spin their hero’s behavior as an invention of the press. The only difference is that Hillary blamed the “vast right wing conspiracy” for her husband’s compulsive gropes while conservatives are desperately flailing about, blaming the press, David Axelrod, even the victims themselves for their candidate’s lack of couth and inability to control his manly urges.
Cheering Cain’s dismissive response to substantive allegations that 30 years ago would have doomed a candidate’s chances – as it did Gary Hart – was the low point of the campaign for me so far. “What are they cheering,” I asked myself? What could possibly be so praiseworthy in Cain’s response that would cause so many to ignore the facts and abandon themselves to mindless approbation?
The answer is a special kind of ignorance that ignores objective reality in favor of a ideological worldview that apes the worst of liberalism’s identity politics while selectively, and very carefully choosing fact flakes that buttress the underpinnings of a separate materiality that is unconnected to logic, rationality, and reason. They cheer Cain because not to do so would shatter the fantasy they have created about the media, their opponents, and the world as seen through the prism of rabid partisanship and excessive ideology.
Lumping all media together as “liberals” is idiocy. This is not to say that much of the media is without bias,or isn’t in the tank for Obama and the Democrats. But what ever happened to taking individuals one at a time and not judging them according to some ideological bias based on what they do? It is decidedly unconservative to play identity politics in this way, aping the worst of liberal ideology. Dismissing the Cain harassment story as the product of liberal attack politics doesn’t hold up to reasonable analysis – not when 5 different women have stepped forward to make accusations against the candidate. Blaming the messenger only reveals the right to be blissfully unaware of their own predicament
And yet, all of this is meaningless in the face of the epistemic closure found on the right as it relates to attitudes toward the media, objective reality, and a curious detachment on the part of many conservatives who ignore the painfully obvious shortcomings of their candidates for president — shortcomings that would disqualify them if the right was thinking rationally. Michele Bachmann’s statement on the poor being forced to work before they would be allowed to eat is real 19th century, social Darwinism stuff. Herman Cain’s ignorance of foreign policy is appalling. Rick Perry’s stuttering incoherence, ditto. How did these people get to be taken seriously as candidates by the right while a reasonably intelligent Mitt Romney – a man conservative enough for 80% of the country – is so reviled that many conservatives would rather see Obama president than the GOP candidate if the former Massachusetts governor makes it that far?
Excuse me while I bemoan the state of conservatism by giving myself a double face palm.