Monday, July 03, 2023

Trans Today, Something Else Tomorrow



Poor Jen Psaki. She was a very effective press secretary for President Biden, and is now a sub-par host on a weekly show on MSNBC and frequent guests at other times on the network. However, it may pay fairly well- or will when she gets more face time- and must be far less stressful.

In the video, a segment from her most recent Sunday show, attached to the tweet below, Psaki makes a couple of strong points, then fails, though in a way which probably pleases her new bosses. She remarks

Just to summarize, the right-wingers, the conspiracy theorists, the birthers, they now want us to forget the years they spent fear-mongering about Muslims and Islam. Ten years ago, standing against Sharia law was the key G.O.P. litmus test.

Now that litmus test seems to be how fervently you oppose transgender people?

As long as she's asking the question- however rhetorically- the answer is an unqualified "no."

The Britannica Dictionary defines litmus test as "something (such as an opinion about a political or moral issue) that is used to make a judgment about whether someone or something is acceptable." In no Republican presidential nominating contest has every Republican been required to say something nasty or crude about transgender people. Moreover, views about the LGBTQIA++ community vary from Republican to Republican, both privately and publicly.

The only transgender issue, and an extremely narrow one, on which no Republican will take a dissenting view is whether biological males should be able to play womans' sports. Even on this, some Republicans will choose to remain mum.  Nonetheless, Psaki states "just look into what Trump himself has to say about that. Even he doesn't exactly know why he's attacking them," then plays a video of Donald Trump stating

It's amazing how strongly people feel about that. You see, I talk about cutting taxes, people go like (pretends to applaud politely. When I talk about transgender, everyone goes crazy. Who would have thought- five years ago- you didn't know what the hell it was?

That doesn't qualify it as a litmus test. It means only that the very small minority of conservatives which will take time out of their busy day, travel to a venue, stand in line, then wait until Trump appears to talk get excited when the issue is raised.

Psaki is assuming that in the excerpt she played, Trump was telling the truth, an odd assumption coming from a Democrat. Even if he were, the response among his followers is in part because they believe he is telling them what other politicians are too fearful to do. These persons need not applaud hysterically when Trump- or any GOP official- calls for lower taxes. Major Republicans all do.

They all do because lowering taxes- i.e., income taxes- for everyone is one point in the Republican three-legged gospel. (They differ from Democrats in wanting income taxes cut for the wealthy and corporations, but they advocate reductions for all.)

The other two parts are cutting regulations and size of the government. While they often fail to do the latter when they are in power, no Republican anywhere or at any time will question the necessity of curbing taxes, regulations, or the size of government. The Republican may be  a culture warrior such as Trump, Ron DeSantis, or Tim Scott or a media- proclaimed "moderate" such as Larry Hogan, Chris Sununu, Chris Christie, or Will Hurd,. None will concede that reducing taxes for the wealthy increases the deficit, government regulations help prevent such disasters as recently occurred in East Palestine, Ohio, or that small government typically means a government which protects individuals against extremes of the market.

Nonetheless, Psaki continues

So what you just heard in that video sounds an awful like, and reminiscent of, what George Wallace, a staunch segregationist, once told a newspaper editor: "You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been a part of my career, and nobody listened And then, I began talking about n _ _ _ _ _ _ and they stomped the floor.

George Wallace was a Democrat. His last meaningful involvement in politics was a half-century ago when his bid for a presidential nomination was failed in the aftermath of being shot.  He died years later, and were he today still alive, around, and active, would almost certainly be a Republican. Nonetheless, he could not have been part of a GOP playbook which Psaki believed she was describing and which she made explicit upon adding

So let's be clear. This sit he same old GOP playbook and their cynical ploy to tear up the fabric of our society and damage the idea that out of many, we are one. All because they so desperately want to regain the White House.

Those are the Republican candidates for President who want most of all to regain the White House. GOP senators, being senators, want most of all to be re-elected, secondarily that their party regains control of its chamber. GOP Representatives, being United States Representatives, want most of all to be re-elected, secondarily that their party regains control of its chamber.

Psaki is correct that the Republican Party wants to rend the fabric of society and damage the idea that out of many, we are one. However, that is most critically played out in uniform GOP support for "school reform," including charter schools, vouchers, and aid to religious schools.  There have been common principles in American society because the default choice of parents has been to send children to the traditional, local public school where those children are taught to honor traditional American values. Send most of them off to private, charter, or religious schools, and what binds our society together disintegrates.

It's understandable that the public school system would not be uppermost in Psaki's mind. At her liberal network, non-progressive network hosts, contributors, and guests come through daily to promote contemporary liberal values, advocating the rights of racial minorities, sexual/gender minorities, women, and immigrants. One of the primary issues on which that unanimity is missing is support for pubic secondary schools.

With those priorities inviolate, it is unsurprising that Jen Psaki would yield to the temptation of arguing that transsexualism, the issue du jour of all proper-thinking liberals, is the same for Republicans and the hill they'd want to die on. It is transsexuals today, just as it has been fetanyl, immigrants massomg at the border, CRT (typically not spelled out), urban crime, and other issues, each for a brief spell over the past few years.

That's how it works. But a Republican becomes unacceptable if he or she does not mention, and remain true to (at least rhetorically), low taxes, little government regulation, and shrinking government. Jen Psaki and all Democrats must keep their eye on the ball.


                                            HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY



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