Saturday, August 07, 2010

Sound And Fury, Signifying The Republican Party

At the daily press briefing (transcript here), on Wednesday, presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked about the previous day's referendum in Missouri in which 71% of the state's voters rejected the health insurance mandate.

I mean, what does it -- what does it say, though, in terms of what --

Not surpisingly, Republicans are seizing on Gibbs' succinct answer:

MR. GIBBS: Nothing, Les. (Laughter.)

Sean J. Miller of The Hill reports

John Cornyn (Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, took issue with Gibbs's comment. "This arrogance and political tone deafness from the Obama White House is simply astounding," he wrote in an e-mail solicitation for donations.

"That the White House has shown such blatant disregard for the votes cast by Missourians as 'nothing' is startling, and it should make clear just how out-of-touch the Obama Administration and Democrats are with average Americans," he added.

(In all likelihood, the "Les" refers to World Net Daily reporter Les Kinsolving, which would account for the laughter.)

The huge margin of defeat for this vital cog in health care reform can in part be attributed to the disproportionate number of Republicans voting on Tuesday, which in turn can be attributed in part to the presence of more competitive primary races on the Republican side.

Still, the dismissive response was hardly a wise political tactic, allowing the GOP to paint the Democratic Party and the administration, however disingenuously, as contemptuous of the public. Sure, as Miller notes "the result of the Missouri referendum is largely for show, since the nation's courts — not popular opinion — will decide whether the federal government can in fact impose such a mandate."

But Republicans- and some lesser percentage of political independents- like "show." Consider the Islamic mosque and community center to be located two blocks from Ground Zero. In an interview with Politico, former Minnesota governor and nearly-certain GOP candidate for president in 2012 Tim

Pawlenty left the mosque matter alone until coming out against the now-approved plan when asked about it for this story.

"I'm strongly opposed to the idea of putting a mosque anywhere near Ground Zero-I think it's inappropriate," he said. "I believe that 3,000 of our fellow innocent citizens were killed in that area, and some ways from a patriotic standpoint, it's hallowed ground, it's sacred ground, and we should respect that. We shouldn't have images or activities that degrade or disrespect that in any way."

Asked for his comment about New York Michael Bloomberg's full-throated support for the project, former House Speaker and possible contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination Newt Gingrich declared

See, and I just think that’s baloney. … I like Mike a lot. He’s a very good mayor. I don’t know why he’s taking this position. The idea of a 13-story building set up by a group many of whom, frankly, are very hostile to our civilization — and I’m talking now about the people who organized this, many of whom are apologists for sharia, which is a form of law that I think we cannot allow in this country, period.

Sarah Palin, a probably candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, tweeted twice:

peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is unnecessary provocation; it stabs hearts.

Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.

And Rush Limbaugh, beginning a rant that went from the mosque to Robert Gibbs to immigration to the Clinton Administration, exclaimed:

Hey, got an idea, folks. Let's go to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and let's build giant monuments in the shape of nuclear bombs and call it the Manhattan Project. I mean you'd have Americans objecting to that, wouldn't you?

What do each of these comments have in common with themselves- and with the controversy the GOP is trying to gin up about the vote in Missouri? They're all for show, a display of political posturing. While a right-wing legal firm founded by Pat Robertson has filed suit to prevent New York City from tearing down the building currently standing on the site, remarks from prominent Republicans lack any suggestions for how this Threat To World Peace is to be stopped or even sidetracked. It's all sound and fury geared to rile up their base without any suggestions as to an alternative. As in the legislative process, the GOP is standing up and shouting NO! But the Party is assiduously avoiding suggesting anything which might derail the building its leaders so fear. It's an appeal to emotion- and no effort to accomplish anything, save electoral success.

Which, when stripped of the hostility, anger, and arguable racial bigotry and absence of patriotism, is really just the modern Republican strategy.

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