Dec 1, 2008

Who's your daddy?

Modern-day Republicans would like to trace their roots to conservative icon Barry Goldwater. Author Neal Gabler argues that a clear-eyed analysis of GOP political campaigns since Goldwater lost proves he isn't the real father. Instead, he says it's the guy they thought of as their crazy uncle, the late junior senator from Wisconsin, Joe McCarthy.

Gabler writes:
Republicans continue to push the idea that this is a center-right country and that Americans have swooned for GOP anti-government posturing all these years, but the real electoral bait has been anger, recrimination and scapegoating. That's why John McCain kept describing Barack Obama as some sort of alien and why Palin, taking a page right out of the McCarthy playbook, kept pushing Obama's relationship with onetime radical William Ayers.

And that is also why the Republican Party, despite the recent failure of McCarthyism, is likely to keep moving rightward, appeasing its more extreme elements and stoking their grievances for some time to come. There may be assorted intellectuals and ideologues in the party, maybe even a few centrists, but there is no longer an intellectual or even ideological wing. The party belongs to McCarthy and his heirs -- Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Palin. It's in the genes.
Is it really just in their genes? Or in our genes? After all, the tactics get repeated because they work.

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