Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thinking in stereotypes: John Boehner, hero of democracy, vs., uh, Snooki?

Nicole Polizzi, aka, "Snooki"

David Rothkopf provides us a good example of declaring conventional wisdom in a superficially informed way without actually troubling the reader (or, presumably, the writer) with the pain of much actual thought. In When ignorance becomes a movement: The rise of Snookiism Foreign Policy 11/17/2010, he serves up the Pod Pundit script of unruly extremists being wisely restrained by sober statesmen. More on what he means by "Snookiism" belove.

The bottom line on Rothkopf pleasing comfortable little tale is that sensible moderates like soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner can be relied upon to protect the Republic from reckless know-nothings:

Some Republicans take comfort in the fact that the Tea Party isn't really a party and had no real hierarchic organization or unified platform in the last election. They see it more as an emotional spasm, the Perot Party Version 2010, and that it will pass. But the 110 newly elected representatives on Capitol Hill who were elected with some Tea Party affiliation are now starting to coalesce into a driving force. If they can effectively form and maintain the discipline of a caucus then they have a chance at further institutionalizing and preserving their movement.

In some respects this might be seen as democracy at work. The problem is we are taking an affliction of democracy -- ignorance -- and turning it into a political movement. This may be disturbing to all those who have a passing interest in the facts, but it creates a special burden for those who must oppose the movement, because those on the other side are actually immune to rational argument, by definition allergic to it.

It now falls to the mainstream Republican leadership, especially to presumptive Speaker John Boehner, to control this group and limit its worst traits. And all spirited Americans who can read and write ought to be pulling for him. Because if he fails, America will face the threat of the spread of a strain of reckless demagoguery unprecedented in our history, a Snookidemic that threatens to effectively lobotomize the body politic.
Once again, the bottom line on this blog post that purports to be a warning against militant ignorance that could "lobotomize the body politic" is that all literate Americans should be pulling for Republican leader John Boehner.

Rothkopf also buys into the favorite press corps assumption that foaming-at-the-mouth Tea Partiers are the Real Americans just like Sarah Palin says they are: "The problem is we are taking an affliction of democracy -- ignorance -- and turning it into a political movement." Rothkopf may want to read up on a long-ago event now known as the First World War to see what depths of knowledge, mature judgment and savvy statecraft were practiced by distinctly non-democratic regimes like the Habsburg and Hohenzollern Emperors, the Russian Czar and the Ottoman Sultan - alll of whom managed to lose their entire empires in that glorious conflict. (The Czar managed to lose his life, as well.)

It's worth noting that Rothkopf's chosen Savior of the Republic, John Boehner, is not quoted in his article actually saying anything along the lines of Rothkopf's script. He was too busy campaigning for Tea Partiers to do so, I suppose. Rothkopf does give us one example of a present-day moderate Republican willing to be quoted on the record criticizing the Tea Partiers, Congressman Bob Inglis of South Carolina - in an interview where he was (mildly) criticizing Republican leaders like Boehner for their embrace of the Tea Partiers!

Another bold Republican moderate boldly and moderately gave Rothkopf an anonymous quote on the Tea Partiers, "We've never seen anything like them. The Gingrich 'Contract with America' revolution was mild by comparison." That was good enough for Rothkopf, though that quote doesn't exactly criticize the Tea Party crowd for being more out-there than Newt Gingrich circa 1994. Whatever. Just cheer for that moderate statesman John Boehner.

This is an entertaining game for pundits. But how serious is it? Did I mention that he sees John Boehner as the Savior of the Republic? Also, about "Snokiism": he links to a You Tube video of Jersey Shore star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi. I'm guessing his point was that she sounds like an airhead. But since he was specifically using her video as an example of the Tea Party as the political manifestation of "a dumbed-down zeitgeist", you have to wonder whether he actually listened to the video where she says she loves President Obama.

But in the "dumbed-down zeitgeist" which Rothkopf identifies with the Tea Party movement, facts and consistency are like, sooooo 1970s. Snooki says she loves Obama, so that makes her a perfect representative of Obama-hating, science-hating Tea Party blowhards. Or something.

The well-funded sponsorship of Tea Party events and causes by FOX News and assorted rightwing billionaires and corporations kissing up to John Boehner's Republican Party doesn't come in for mention in Rothkopf's jeremiad against "Snookiism".

Best of all, rightwingers can use Rothkopf's column about how John Boehner is our last hope for democracy and civilization as an example of "liberal elitism". So everybody's happy all around! Except maybe for Snooki.

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