I've been trying to put my finger on something for a while now. My gut has been telling me there is something different about what is happening with Obama and what happened with George Bush in his later years.
Then I read this yesterday and the mist began to clear.
"The heaviest hitters in the Republican party, and in the conservative media have loudly and proudly called for Obama's failure. Liberals who even softly criticized Bush were roundly shamed and called terrorist-loving-America-haters"The entire piece is a little heavy handed but it is worth the read.
But why is it different? Is it because we are led by a black man? I am willing to admit I am not sure. Certainly not as sure as President Carter (although his statement is being conflated to ridiculous levels). And certainly not so sure that I would make asinine statements as my own Congressman has (also note who in the Atlanta press called him on it). But what I am sure of is there is a wave of irrationality. As to how large that wave is, I do not think we know.
And here is where I think I finally start putting my finger on the issue.
Even though we don't know how pervasive the irrational fear is, leaders (and there is little denying some of the people I am about to name have been embraced as leaders) on the right have trumpeted it as a "movement" and "patriotic" and as "mainstream". We've reached the existential moment where fear of the unknown or ignorance of the known is not only seen as rational political thought but a reason to proudly thump one's chest and declare patriotism.
The difference is even though the left has loons (if you want to know what I think about these people ask me some time about "cause junkies"), they don't usually prop them up as the "mainstream" as much of the right does with Malkin, Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin. There are certainly exceptions, such as Dreher's spot on description of what Limbaugh is doing as "wicked", and they should be celebrated. There should be more.
The difference is here in Georgia the main Democratic blog, Blog For Democracy, certainly has its share of nutty commenters but they don't promote them to front page posting priviledges. Peach Pundit, the main Republican blog, on the other hand, promotes a person whose sole purpose in life appears to be calling any black Georgia politician who dares open their mouth a "race pimp".
I know the Republican party is not racist. I also know that those whining now that just because they disagree they are being called racist are disingenous. I also know that we are seeing things in the early days of the first black President that I'm not sure we've ever seen before. But, I'll save race for another time. Despite the desire of people to boil it down to a placard argument, it is complex and deserves unwavering attention. Also, I'm still not sure I've put my finger on it.
What I have put my finger on is the belief that although there are some Democrats speaking stupidly, there are far fewer Republicans speaking reasonably. Both should do better.