Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Message is the Message

This guy could kick your ass
So on one of the dozen or so interchangeable Sunday morning Republican TeeVee talkfests, one of the pundits got around to asking the ubiquitous John McCain (R-Dementia) about the debate audience lustily booing that gay soldier in Afghanistan.  As a side note, I think it's worth mentioning that exactly none of them would have booed if that dude was actually in the building - he looked like he could kick the entire Republican Party's ass.  But anyway, the exchange went like this:

SCHIEFFER: Do you think that the Republican candidates should have spoken up at that debate about [the booing]?
MCCAIN: Yeah, I do. But a lot of times when you’re in a debate you think about what you’re going to say, what the question is going to be. It’s hard to react sometimes. But I’m sure…I would bet that every Republican on that stage did not agree with that kind of behavior.

OK.  But here's the thing.  My first thought when I read that was "Horseshit.  EVERY Republican on the stage agreed with that sentiment, whether or not they felt it was politically worthwhile to denounce it."  Because a political movement has no choice but to own their key messaging.  Sure, there can be ideological elements on which a given candidate can take a heterodox position, but a certain sort of tribal hatred has been such a core plank of the Republican platform, a key underpinning on which their entire worldview is constructed for so long that is has literally become part of the Party DNA.  Whether it's hatred and intolerance for Gays, African-Americans, Women, Muslims or Hispanics, these kind of divisive tribal politics have exemplified the Republican message at least since Reagan.

So you wind up with a condition where a Huntsman or even a Romney can, with at least some credibility, accept the science on Global Warming or that an individual mandate exists to protect the interest of private insurers and is therefore part of a free-market belief system, but to allow a path to tolerance for Gay Americans, like a path to citizenship for undocumented aliens, is simply impossible.  To question the tribal structure of the Republican constituency is to open the door just a crack to the possibility that their definition of "Real American" might be artificially narrow.  And without a broad strategy of demonization, they would be left only with issues, which is distinctly unfavorable territory for them.


  1. OK. But here's the thing. My first thought when I read that was "Horseshit. EVERY Republican on the stage agreed with that sentiment, whether or not they felt it was politically worthwhile to denounce it."

    Hang about, the candidates on stage believe that Gay Dude should not be in the Army. They believe that his presence there is spreading disease, or corroding morale, or stiffening (heh) the resolve of the enemy, or something, but anyway they want him kicked out with a medical discharge. Why should they care if the audience boos him?
    Conversely, if they think he deserves respect, and honour, and shouldn't be booed, then "Boot him out of his job" is an odd way of showing it.

    McCain is basically saying that every candidate on the stage was an incoherent flip=flopper, which I suppose is an arguable claim.

  2. You'll know McCain isn't alive when they stop trotting his sorry ass out for the weekend talking head shows.