Part of it is a normal process. Even annoyed voters gravitate towards
incumbents as the election approaches, the “devil you know” psychology
of voting. Why vote for someone who may be incompetent, dishonest, and
demented, when you already have someone in office who is incompetent,
dishonest and demented in ways you know and love?
Part of it is that Democrats have popular leaders. Bill Clinton and
Barack Obama have been crisscrossing the country campaigning for local
and federal candidates, whereas George W. Bush has been sitting in a
rocking chair in a drafty GOP attic, knitting and screeching, “Norman!
Fetch me a sarsaparilla!”.
Part of it is that most voters have realized that while Democrats
haven't done much to fix the economy, it was mostly because of the
Republicans that they weren't allowed to try, and further, the mess was
caused by the Republicans to begin with.
The main reason is that in the public eye, the Republican Party has gone
Not all of it, of course. We all know Republicans who don't believe a
woman should be forced to bear a rapist's baby, don't think Darwin was
an agent of Satan, and suspect that the dangers of climate change are
both real and need to be addressed.
In fact, we're starting to hear from those Republicans these days:
mostly old-style conservatives who had their political label
appropriated by right wing whacks. They aren't happy with what the party
But the main problem is that the GOP is so far beyond the fringe it no
longer can see the carpet.
Some of it is that old time mean / crazy that was always part of the
GOP. Newt Gingrich called Democrats “the party of food stamps”,
apparently forgetting that a lot of the nation's very poorest and most
ignorant citizens, when they vote at all, vote Republican. Karl Rove
accused Obama of wanting to make an “enemies list” because Obama, like
most of us, wants to know where all those extra billions of dollars in
this year's campaigns are coming from. Spending is FIVE TIMES what it
was in 2008, despite the fact that this is just Congressional
elections—no presidential race. But old Newt was always mean and
contemptuous, and Karl always takes his party's nastiest elements and
tries to assign them to the opposition. No surprises there.
But this year, crackpottery seems to have reached amazing new levels. A
lot of this is due to the Tea Party, which, like Hitler's Nazi party in
the early 30's, is both comical and appalling at the same time.
The Tea Party has an alliance with the English Defence League, which is
that country's latest neo-nazi-skinhead-racist movement, given to
demonstrations and riots in areas where there are a concentration of
Moslems. So comparing them to Hitler isn't particularly over-the-top.
But the candidates continue to amaze. For example, Linda McMahon, the
Republican candidate for Senate in Connecticut, defended some of the
antics of her WWE entertainers by saying she had a first amendment right
to make her employees bark like dogs. You might wonder what qualifies
the head of a somewhat sleazy and low-rent outfit like WWE (the latest
incarnation of pro wrestling) to run for the Senate, and the answer is
money, of course. There's a lesson here: if someone with lots of money
can't make American voters bark like dogs, then who, exactly, CAN they
make bark like dogs? This is a question of rich peoples' rights, you know!
Christine O'Donnell is running very odd ads in which she assures voters
she's not a witch (if she floats on election day, she's a witch; if she
sinks, well, I guess she wasn't). She then assures the same voters that
“I am You.” Hmm. Christine, if you are me, then you think you're crazy,
Sharron Angle developed a “pastor problem.” Her pastor decided to attack
Harry Reid's religion, which is Mormon. I wasn't offended; I -like- it
when shamans get into pissing matches. But I had to wonder about the
brilliance of this particular shaman, given that Mormons make up at
least 8% of registered voters, at least 10-12% of likely voters, and
vote Republican in overwhelming numbers. Of course, Republicans seem to
have a habit of pissing on the very demographics they are trying to
entice to vote for them. I haven't even mentioned Meg Whitman yet,
But then Angle did something truly bizarre. Yesterday, with polls
showing her losing ground at a rapid pace, she decided to run against
the policies of...Sharron Angle. She promised she would NOT work to
privatize Veterans Affairs, dismantle Social Security or dismiss
unemployment benefits as welfare. Having already alienated the Mormons,
she just threw her core constituency – irritated know-nothings who hate
anyone who gets a government check – under the bus. She just handed
Harry Reid reelection on – excuse me – a silver plate.
Ben, son of Quayle, went on TV and announced that government spending
was 44% of GDP. He described this as a number not many people know –
with good reason, it doesn't exist – and he felt he needed for us to
know it. The ad got pulled within an hour, once his advisors realized
that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to have the people know he thinks
44% of the GDP is government spending.
In California, Meg Whitman is pretty much reduced to hoping the voters
won't agree with an anonymous Brown staffer who called her a whore.
Maybe she could rip a page from Christine O'Donnell's playbook and run
ads proclaiming, “I am not a whore.” Just so long as she doesn't try to
claim that she is me. I wouldn't blow $140 million on a campaign knowing
that I have a disgruntled undocumented worker out there that I just
screwed. Mind you, the Brown staffer didn't publicly call her a whore:
he said it after a phone call between the two campaigns had ended, but
before the connection was actually dropped. The Whitman campaign elected
to publicize it, doubtlessly hoping the electorate would have a soft
spot for whores.
But for sheer batshittery, it's hard to top the Republican candidate for
Oregon's Fourth District, who is running against the popular Peter
DeFazio. Art Robinson appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show, which
Media-ite called “must-see TV for campaign implosion enthusiasts.” Her
most famous scalp of candidates happy to pull their own hairlines off
came from Rand Paul, but the lesser-known Robinson may prove to be the
She had him on primarily to ask about $150,000 he got from a mysterious
group called “Concerned Taxpayers of America”. She never got to ask him,
for reasons that are apparent. For those of you who haven't seen it, the
interview is available here _http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNVTFP9-iQ8_
(Part I) and here: _http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0jnp2d8czU_ (Part II).
One has to question who would support this particular candidate. While a
lot of his nutball ideas are par for the course for Teabaggers:
eliminate public education, social security and the VA, for example,
some go well off into Woo Land. He believes in hormesis, the notion that
some radiation is actually good for you. To that end, he suggests
dumping nuclear waste in the oceans and perhaps scattering it over
America. He not only believes that HIV doesn't cause AIDS, but believes
that homosexuality by itself does. It's par for the course for a
Republican to be a global warming denialist, but Robinson ginned up an
infamous “petition of scientists” against the “global warming hoax”. The
list included the Spice Girls, the cast from M*A*S*H, and members of
Bugs Bunny's universe. He is head of the Oregon Institute of Science and
Medicine (OISM), which is a flat-earth academy. No, it's not even that.
It's a Quonset hut in a field in rural Oregon, from which they sell a
For a mere $195, your children can learn that “the intelligence of an
average negro is about equal to that of a European child of ten years
old… Left alone to their own devices they retrograde into a state little
above their native savagery.” The words aren't Robinson's: they are
those of one George Alfred Henty, a 19th century Englishman. Robinson
scanned -sixty- of Henty's books as a major part of his curriculum for
I don't know which is more terrifying: that he won the Republican
primary in his district, or that someone thought America would benefit
from having him in Congress and secretly spent $150,000 to that end.
We knew that having a Democratic president meant the right wing would do
all it could to poison the political atmosphere, as they did with
Clinton. And we knew that in the wake of the Roberts Court decision
giving corporations unlimited power to influence campaigns, that the
political landscape would be littered with spoiled monsters like Meg
Whitman, who assume that unearned wealth equals entitled privilege.
What we didn't expect would be that their selection and breeding process
would be of such poor quality that the present collection of clowns and
loons would dominate the elections.
But then, given that major corporations are slow, stupid, lumbering
beasts incapable of seeing where their own best interests lie, it
shouldn't be a complete surprise.
Let's just hope the American voters have more sense.