Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Victimized Republicans

"If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain's resolve to do what's best for his country, you can be sure the Angry Left never will.", our Dear Leader Bush told the Republican National Convention on Tuesday via satellite. Or, as Billmon calls it, "the white power rally that is the typical GOP convention."

Given what we know about the affiliations of the McCain's new White Princess Sarah Palin with the neo-Confederate Alaskan Independence Party, state affiliate of the ultra-Christianist Constitution Party, Billmon's description is even more appropriate.

No one really knows who Dear Leader had in mind as the "angry left". Does he think Osama bin Laden or the Taliban are "leftists"?

And has anybody but me found themselves thinking that it seems a bit out of character for the Republicans to celebrate John McCain's heroism because of his captivity as a prisoner of war? The Republicans generally prefer the more theatrical type of swaggering hero. Dear Leader in his flight suit and oh-so-manly codpiece declaring Mission Accomplished. Jack Bauer on 24 righteously torturing some terrorist.

The McCain ads that refer to his POW experience show him prostrate in a bed, looking up at the camera. It's a position of helplessness. Why should this have such evident appeal to Republicans? Or to the independents at whom the ad are also aimed?

Their admiration for McCain's imprisonment hasn't made his Party devotees of prison reform. Or turned them in partisans in the cause of widows and orphans. Or made them committed to ending torture, which McCain also experienced in captivity. On the contrary, torture has become one of the Party's most deeply-held "traditional values". They are proud of their support for torturing dark-skinned terrorists. It's just like in the good ole days when white folks could do the same to blacks, the nostalgic times country star Toby Keith sings about in his new pro-lynching song.

I don't fully understand it. But their admiration for McCain's hero-as-victim image has a lot to do with the fact that Southern white voters are more important now to the Republican Party nationally than the "Solid South" ever was for the Democrats. White Southerners have been whining since before the Civil War about how those mean Yankees are picking on them. McCain's POW image plays well to the whiny-white-guy brand of patriotism and righteous bluster that has become some a central feature of Republican Party culture.

Nixon created that particular brand image for Vietnam War POW's when, in his first term (1969-1973), he made the American POWs into a central justification for his Vietnam War policies.Old Man Bush encouraged a similar thing when he portrayed the troops he had sent to the Middle East in his pre-Gulf War buildup of 1990-91 as hostages of a sort. His administration encouraged a "yellow-ribbon" campaign to "support the troops", borrowing the yellow-ribbon campaign that was previously associated with the American hostages in Iran.

So when McCain's political cutthroat and Kark Rove disciple Steve Schmidt stages a hissy fit on behalf of the White Princess against the evil Liberal Press Conspiracy, it fits with the image of the persecuted white folks, battling for the white race American values against the forces of Islamofascodefeatocratunism. It's the politics of victimhood, which the Republicans hold it such contempt when practiced on behalf of people with real problems.

It's part of the culture war stance in which the Republican Christian white folks are defending civilization against the menaces of black preachers, critics of Republican wars and hippie free love advocates. Although given the varieties of sexual experience the Republican Party has been demonstrating the last several years, maybe it's time to give it up on being the Party of Sexual Purity. They should stick with things like being the Torture Party, where their claim to the concept is more secure.

As Billmon also says, Republican Party Conventions "are supposed to be about ... the perpetual deification of Ronald Reagan and hearing Lee Greenwood sing 'God Bless the USA' for the 348th time." That Lee Greenwood favorite, by the way, is a classic of whiny patriotism: "I'm proud to be an American/Where at least I know I'm free". At least?

For more info on whining Republicans, see Memeorandum.

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"It is the logic of our times
No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."

-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?


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