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The Trials of Homer Simpson
Even Ned Flanders couldn't help John Boehner

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
November 7, 2010

So here's a question for the folks back home: if the Republicans were such big winners this week, how come they seem to be in disarray, even on the brink of civil war, and the Democrats seem to be pulling together?

That is the case. Media Matters is gleefully reporting on a civil war among the Republicans at Faux News, which pits Palin and now, News Corp owner KangaRupe Murdoch himself, against Karl Rove. To the delight of Democrats, Rove blinked first and backed down, backtracking on remarks about Sarah Palin not having what it takes to be President. I'm not sure what's going on with Kangarupe. He has always been a bastard, but he was always a SANE bastard. Throwing in with the likes of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin isn't exactly sane.

Kangarupe went on, according to Media Matters, to trash the Faux News top-rated host, Bill O'Reilly, for failing to savage Hillary Clinton in an interview. I'm sure this may have caused a few wry smiles among Media Matters personnel, especially head man David Brock, once as big a star among the far right as Bill-O is now, but who also got vilified and smeared for the crime of treating Hillary Clinton with respect and fairness.

OK, I doubt Bill O'Reilly is going to become the next David Brock. But it's fun to at least CONSIDER the idea.

Meanwhile, William Rivers Pitt had an essay today detailing the looming civil war within the ranks of Congressional Republicans.

Pitt writes, “The main Republican Party was in a bind. For decades, they had pursued a deliberate strategy of whooping up the base, getting them all fired up about Jesus and fetuses and guns and terrorists and immigrants, which paid them great dividends.[...]After 2008, however, that dog slipped the leash, and the GOP found itself fighting against, instead of depending on, that very motivated and highly insane base of voters. As the 2010 midterms approached, they found themselves making a very delicate straddle; they needed these people to win back the House, and would deal with the problem of batpoop-crazy people joining the caucus after the House majority was secured.”

Well, yeah, that's a problem, all right. And the Teabaggers haven't wasted any time establishing that they are, in fact, completely off-the-twig crazy. The governors of Ohio and Wisconsin announced they were refusing a $1.2 billion grant from the Feds for high-speed rail programs, immediately cutting hundreds of jobs, and down the road, costing thousands more jobs and future revenues. You may have noticed they didn't announce this BEFORE the election. As someone who lives in a state that isn't Ohio or Wisconsin, and thus will share in the reallocated federal funding, I want to thank the voters of those two states for sacrificing their futures for my comfort.

Even when the teabaggers say something sane, that's crazy by GOP standards. Rand, son of Paul, said in an interview that in order to cut spending, cuts to military spending would have to be considered. In GOP circles, such blasphemy will take you to the innermost circle of hell, where liberals and environmentalists reside.

But mostly it was just crazy. Jim DeMint blamed Republicans for the loss of Republican candidates Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle.

Apparently, in the belief that the 35% of voters who didn't think health care reform went far enough would be happy to see him destroy the gains that were made, he promised to deal with it by defunding it. No up-or-down votes, no doubt: he'll try to do it in committee. Fortunately, and thanks to him, the GOP is still the minority party in the Senate. As one wit wrote, “Are you accusing Harry [Reid] of hiring Sharron Angle to run as a lunatic?”

DeMint then proceeded to get into a pissing match with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell over the issue of earmarks. McConnell says banning earmarks completely is off the table; DeMint told the press, "We're not gonna have earmarks, so it's silly for some senior Republicans in the Senate to try to block it." No word on how McConnell felt about being dismissed as just “some senior Republican” who was being “silly”. I'm guessing DeMint isn't high on McConnell's Christmas list right now.

The face of the GOP in the House is Speaker-Presumptive John Boehner, who looks, more and more, like Homer Simpson wearing a cheap toupé. He's got his work cut out for him.

There's roughly 30 teabaggers in the House, and most of them are nuts. That they are far-right-wing crazy, convinced that environmentalism, evolution and public education are all commie plots isn't the problem. Boehner isn't all that tightly wrapped himself. The problem is that there's only 30 of them, plus the number of right-wing loons that there were to begin with, which means that most of the GOPhers in the House are going to need some persuading before passing a bill declaring global warming to be just an Al Gore fantasy, or eliminating the Department of Education, or announcing that the US was quitting the UN and renouncing all treaties that didn't favor big corporations.

There's crazy, and then there's bat-shit crazy. Most of the teabaggers can be found on ledges in caves. Even with Faux News cheerleading for the 'baggers, most Republicans know there HAS to be a lower limit to the amount of strutting stupidity the voters will stand for.

Boehner has to keep the crazies contained while making it appear that the GOP isn't just turning around, pissing on the heads of the teabaggers, and telling them it's champagne.

In one way, history will help Boehner there: the GOP has a long and glorious history of cultivating the right wing crazies and them dumping them like a cheap date. They did it with the Buchanan Republicans, and before them, the Moral Majority, and before them, the John Birchers, and before them, the Sons of Liberty. They have traditionally gone after the peasants with pitchforks vote (and Buchanan even CALLED them peasants with pitchforks!) and then, once in power, dumped them.

But there's a fly in the ointment: Faux News. The power of mass media is such that what was once seen as a fake news channel devoted to promoting the GOP has now basically taken over the party. GOP presidential candidates can maintain viability only by going to work for Faux News as “analysts”, and teabag candidates quickly learned the only way they could maintain public credibility in the face of their own wackiness would be by avoiding the American media—weak as it is—and speaking only to the fake reporters of Faux.

But now the tail is wagging the dog, and Faux is telling the GOP what policy shall be. Said policy is based on the ratings Faux gets from their very limited focus audience, which is to say, the 10% of the population that is dumbest and most ignorant.

What's worse than having someone like Glenn Beck speaking on your behalf?

Being forced to speak—and act—on Glenn Beck's behalf. Having him as an ally is embarrassing. Doing what he tells you to do is flat-out humiliating.

Much of the GOP has been subsumed into the role of maintaining Faux's ratings. For the Teabaggers, Faux creations to begin with, that's no big deal. But for the usual Republicans, who always practiced “find-em-and-forget-em” when it came to the votes of the far right, they suddenly find themselves in a shotgun wedding with those same loons.

Some, perhaps most, are going to rebel. And when they do, it won't be pretty. Folks like DeMint and Murdoch and Beck don't deal well with dissension in the ranks.

I'm guessing the GOP will manage something resembling party discipline at least until Congress convenes in January. Boehner and McConnell are probably talking with party leaders from the far right such as DeMint, Limbaugh and Beck, assuring them that teabag positions will be part of the party line in Congress.

That will last exactly as long as it takes the Teabaggers to realize that McConnell was serious about not abolishing earmarks, or until they publicly try to crowd Boehner into a vote he can't win, such as defunding health care entirely, or abolishing the Department of Education.

Boehner has to defend against the old style nasties, such as Darryl Issa, who wants to open time-consuming and pointless investigations into everything the Obama administration is doing, with an eye to impeachment. Boehner has been around long enough to refuse to believe the party propaganda that this was an effective tactic to use against the Clinton administration, and realizes that trying more of the same would simply cost the GOP what support from moderates it still enjoys.

Good luck, Homer. Your only allies are Montgomery Burns and Sideshow Bob. I don't envy you your task.

Posted: November 11, 2010

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