Sunday, March 1, 2009

The GOP Embraces the Lightweights

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, speaking today to Bob Schieffer of CBS, took on the continuing presence of Rush Limbaugh on the Republican Right.

Here's Emanuel's response to a question about the radio talker's influence: “I do think he’s an intellectual force, which is why the Republicans pay such attention to him.”

A blogger over at Americablog offered a somewhat different slant on Limbaugh and other conservative thinkers (in the loosest sense of the word):
I'd disagree with Rahm on this one. Limbaugh is not an intellectual force, he's an anti-intellectual force. He's popular fascism with a multi-syllabic touch. And that is exactly why he's so popular with the GOP. From Sarah Palin, to Bobby Jindal, to Joe-the-Tax-Cheat, the GOP loves its intellectual lightweights.


Tulsan said...

Other than saying "intellectual" when he should have said "anti-intellectual", Emanuel did a great job of calmly and effectively knocking down Schieffer's "concern troll" questions. We need more of him on the Sunday morning shows.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Slogans are easier to remember than arguments.

Tulsan said...

Transcript of Rahm Emanuel on Face The Nation

Man of the West said...

It'd be easier to be impressed with the quote if the author so clearly didn't understand fascism, which is a socialist phenomenon, viz "National German Workers Socialist Party," aka NAZI. It differs from other forms of socialism chiefly in its nationalism--most other forms being more internationalist in ideology--and its preference for leaving ownership (but not a great deal of control) of capital in private hands.

Heard this one? It is instructive:
"I have learned a great deal from Marxism, as I do not hesitate to admit. The difference between them and myself is that I have really put into practice what these peddlers and penpushers have timidly begun...I had only to develop logically what Social Democracy repeatedly failed in because of its attempt to realize its evolution within the framework of democracy. National Socialism is what Marxism might have been if it could have broken its absurd and artificial ties with the democratic order."--Adolf Hitler

To suggest that Rush Limbaugh has something to do with "popular fascism," which would be a leftist ideology, is to reveal something of a lightweight understanding of the term--which makes taking the rest of the comment seriously a rather difficult job. It comes off looking a rather ill-thought attempt to slur Republicans by including as many insulting terms in two sentences as possible, and succeeds only in revealing more about the author than he had intended.

Republicans have enough problems right now; too many claim to be conservative without really understanding the term, and as a result, walk about participating in the political process in a state of utter confusion. They may be effectively critiqued without revealing one's own ignorance in the process.

Man of the West said...

I almost went away without noticing this line:


That brings on guffaws. "No room to talk" is hardly an adequate phrase. How many cabinet nominees have you lost to tax issues in the last month?

You put a tax cheat in charge of the IRS, for heaven's sake.

Talk about chutzpah.

Tulsan said...

Man, would I be correct in guessing that much of your take on fascism comes out of Jonah Goldberg's (The National Review) recent book, "Liberal Fascism"?

A lot of labels could be hung on Limbaugh, but the one that best fits today is "the mind and soul of the GOP." TWO terrible things to waste.

Man of the West said...

To be sure, Goldberg's book is a valuable resource, but in my case, has only added details to what I knew already. I understood most of what I wrote about tonight back in high school (I understood more about their concepts on capital; I did not quite get what they meant by "national" 'til years later). Finding that "socialist" was in the name of Hitler's party was something of a dead giveaway even back then, you know.

Anyone who's read anything about World War II is already at least somewhat familiar with this; it is all over the material on the lead-up to the war. Perhaps most don't fully appreciate what Hitler was saying when he talked about how he had, with national socialism, improved on Marxism, but it's not like he was trying to hide it.

Tulsan said...

I didn't use and am not defending the blogger's term "popular fascism."

Orwell said:

"The word 'Fascism' is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else... almost any English person would accept 'bully' as a synonym for 'Fascist'."

Its application to Limbaugh is appropriate in this latter, diffuse sense. But it still has all the other WWII-era connotations, so the blogger should have just skipped it. It's now a well-worn tool in the propagandist's kit.

Dictators and authoritarians in any era lash together whatever ideas are at hand to create a "philosophy." It gives their actions the appearance of respectability and coherence, and keeps intellectuals busy.

Tulsan said...

Jonah Goldberg includes Senator Joe McCarthy as a left-winger because he was a populist?!

The right is putting a lot of its eggs into their "Socialism" meme-basket, and they are getting pretty silly about it.

They are frantically dialing up the volume of their down-is-up hysteria in a misbegotten attempt to regain their audience. But they are losing all but the hardcore 18%.

Tulsan said...

Just in time for a friendly wager:

Michael Steele, the new RNC Chairman, the one who wants to apply GOP principles to "urban-suburban hip-hop settings"(?!) says Rush isn't the leader of the Republican Party, but is just an "entertainer" whose work is "incendiary" and "ugly."

Anyone want to guess how soon Steele will be eating those words, in or out of a hip-hop setting?

Tulsan said...

Didn't take long. Steele later today:

"What I was trying to say was a lot of people … want to make Rush the scapegoat, the bogeyman, and he’s not."

"...there are those out there who want to look at what he’s saying as incendiary and divisive and ugly. That's what I was trying to say. It didn’t come out that way. … He does what he does best, which is provoke: He provokes thought, he provokes the left. And they’re clearly the ones who are most excited about him."

Asked if he planned to apologize, Steele said: "I wasn’t trying to offend anybody. So, yeah, if he’s offended, I'd say: Look, I'm not in the business of hurting people’s feelings here. … My job is to try to bring us all together."

Nicely done, Mr. Steele. But I wouldn't be sure you are "off the hook" yet.

Tulsan said...

Steele Watch Today:

A top GOP strategist who has worked for House and Senate Republican leaders says, "If his implosion continues, RNC members are likely to call a special session to dump him for an effective chairman. There is not much patience for failure."

His days are numbered. He dissed Rush.

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