For the last eight years, we’ve observed Karl Rove’s non-reality based universe in which logic was entirely abandoned in lieu of whatever reality the administration invented in order to serve its ridiculous policies and to mask its glaring nincompoopery. Intellectually dishonest at best — destructive and criminal at worst.
This didn’t end on Election Day.
Since their thumpin’ last week, the far-right has pushed the crazy to eleven and snapped the knob clean off — an opening salvo of twisted hackery portending an insane four-to-eight years of attacks on the Obama administration. If the last seven days have been any indication, the far-right is shaping up to make the 1990s seem quaint — even erudite by comparison. That which used to be your basic, off-the-shelf intellectual dishonesty has grown into, as Digby pointed out recently, full-on intellectual violence.
Intellectual violence. While not a new term, it perfectly defines what we’re seeing now: accusations and smears that so severely confound logic they literally attack — violate — reality and the human intellect. It’s like a berzerker dervish of argumentative elbows and fists indiscriminately flailing around, thwacking anything in its orbit, so much so that constructing a counterpoint is literally painful, “Why the hell am I trying to debunk this?! Ow! My head. Aw hell, I need a drink.”
The “Impeach Obama” Facebook groups, for example. No, I’m not making that up. They’re real and there’s a constant variety of disgruntled far-right Republicans joining up every day. And, to our total lack of surprise, they’re not ashamed in the slightest to post comments like this one:
“Damn dems stole the election like they always do. GOD wanted McCain and Palin in the White House. That’s why it’s called THE WHITE HOUSE.”
Apart from being a racist, this “Impeach Obama” Facebook member is clearly the most awesome pollster in the world if he was able to sample God. I tried to submit a friend request just so I could ask him if he perchance enlisted a room of undecided cherubim for a Frank Luntz dial group.
Shortly after discovering this, I was talking with a colleague and found myself instinctively trying to form a rational argument about why the Facebook members were wrong. It began with the obvious: “He’s not even the president yet!” And then, after I segued into Article II and the constitutional grounds for impeachment, I stopped myself. What in name of Randall P. MacMurphy am I doing? Arguing against this crap is like explaining to a meth tweaker that the shadow people aren’t real. That’s when I decided that it’d be more fun to just infiltrate one of the groups and post comments like, “The moon landing was staged!” and, “Obama is a bionic — just like his half-aunt! I have proof!”
Then on Monday, Michelle Malkin posted an item in which she referred to the president-elect as the “overlord-elect.” And on Tuesday, Congressman Paul Broun told the AP, “You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I’m not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I’m saying is there is the potential.” Uh-huh. On the scale of probability, “Obama is a fascist dictator” is about as likely as “Broun is a Jedi Master.” But it doesn’t matter. Reality is irrelevant.
The obvious intention here is to cobble together an abuse of power meme against President-elect Obama, despite President Bush and Vice President Cheney having, you know, spent the last eight years consolidating executive power, authorizing torture, suspending habeas corpus, illegally invading sovereign nations, ignoring congressional subpoenas and eavesdropping on American citizens.
Whoops. There I go again, talking about facts and treating the crazy like it’s real.
But clearly the most egregious post-election trespass came to us from John Hinderaker of Powerline. Some back story: following the president-elect’s lighthearted Nancy Reagan séance remark, Michelle Malkin referred to Obama as a “classless jerk” (unlike President George W. “Those Weapons Have to Be Around Here Somewhere” Bush, of course). And she treated the séance comment as if it were part of an on-going pattern of ridiculous Obama gaffes and bloopers.
Picking up on Malkin’s lead, Hinderaker wrote this week:
Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting. In the eight years he has been President, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has committed. If Obama doesn’t raise his standards, he will exceed Bush’s total before he is inaugurated.
No, seriously. I didn’t make that up. A popular member of the far-right intertubes actually wrote that. On a public website. That people go to and read. Every day.
Come on now. Fess up, Hinderaker, you can’t seriously believe all that. I mean, I didn’t think it was possible, but you succeeded in making Malkin’s “classless jerk” remarks appear respectable — even reasonable — by comparison. Fact: not only is the president-elect one of the finest orators in modern political history, but he far exceeds President Bush in terms of intellectualism and verbal discipline. In other words, a Bush gaffe reveals an inherent lack of intellectual curiosity and a general ineptitude when it comes to, well, talking. An Obama gaffe is an isolated incident, exclusive of his ability to speak, think and reason. Nothing more.
I can’t believe I even have to write that down. But that’s precisely what makes these arguments so violent. They literally crush logical reality, making it almost impossible to ignore.
In a perfect world, we probably shouldn’t react or to take these things too seriously, and yet we’d be making a huge mistake to ignore them altogether — or to underestimate their efficacy. After all, there’s Drudge who somehow remains a bridge between the far-right’s intellectual violence and the establishment press. As we’ve learned throughout the last ten years, it only takes some persistent badgering and a series of red “SHOCK!” headlines for the crazy to travel by osmosis into the mainstream.
So we’re in for many more years of insanity from the far-right. They’re not dead. They’re not as irrelevant as they deserve to be. And they certainly don’t suffer from writer’s block when it comes to outlandish and illogical attacks and smears.
Put it this way, if President-elect Obama so much as takes a long weekend off this August, you can bet that the far-right will crap their cages about Obama being lazy and shiftless.
Bob Cesca Huffington Post 11/12/08