Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Republicans and Tigers and Pundits, Oh My!

Chris Rock is not only the funniest man alive, he is also probably the most astute social commentator around. To listen to him do his routine is not only to be entertained, but to be enlightened about the world as it truly is.

During one performance not long after the October 2003 incident at The Mirage in Las Vegas in which Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy was attacked by a circus tiger, Rock, contradicting the conventional wisdom that such an attack was entirely unexpected, said the following,
That tiger ain't go crazy; that tiger went tiger! You know when he was really crazy? When he was riding around on a unicycle with a Hitler helmet on!
(The set-up for these lines begins at about 1:20 into this absolutely not-safe-for-work YouTube video.)

Rock lets us know that you don't have to be a big game hunter to realize that you could get into a whole lot of trouble when you go messing around with a large, fanged, predatory mammal in an enclosed space.

On a related note, it seems that lately a handful of old-line Republican stalwarts are grumbling about the GOP. Some even say that they will not be able to bring themselves to vote for the McCain-Palin ticket in the November election. The list includes, among others, George Will, Christopher Buckley and New York Times columnist David Brooks. They are "shocked, I tell you, shocked" that the party of their youth has been hijacked by know-nothing anti-intellectuals.

Brooks is a Republican apologist whom I hold in particularly low regard, not for his opinions per se, but for the fact that he presents them with little intellectual honesty. Take this column last Saturday decrying the regrettable disdain that the GOP now directs toward "the idea of the cultivated mind."

If Brooks is to believed, the origin of this shift in Republican thinking is not grounded fundamentally in real people adopting right-wing beliefs and points-of-view. No, not at all. This change is due to a political miscalculation gone awry:
But over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads. [emphasis added]
So what of the southern strategy of the 1968 Nixon campaign, which tapped into racial animosity inflamed by court-ordered school busing, or of the property-tax revolt thrust onto the national scene by California's Proposition 13 in 1978, or of Ronald Reagan's second-coming as an unrelenting anti-government crusader, or of the political rise of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, or of the assault on science and reason epitomized by the "evolution wars" instigated by the Institute for Creation Research, or of the attacks on the civil liberties of gay and lesbian citizens of this country that masqueraded - and continues to masquerade - as a promotion of "family values"?

What of these?

David Brooks would have us believe that these are side-effects, unintended, secondary consequences that have accompanied the shift of opinion orchestrated by "Republican political tacticians" as their line of attack against "coastal pointy-heads".

Give me a break!

Brooks (and Will and Buckley) may long for the golden age of Rockefeller, county-club Republicanism, but they can't deny the reality that they, along with the rest of us, have been living in the days of the Joe-Six-Pack GOP for the last two decades or more. Sarah Palin, far from being a surprise to them, should have been anticipated as the inevitable result of a philosophy adopted and embraced by the very party with which they aligned themselves years ago and which they continued to support until very recently.

Or as Chris Rock might say,
the Republican Party ain't gone crazy; that party went Republican! You know when it was really crazy? When it was riding around in a golf cart with a pork-pie hat on!
Right on, Chris!
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