I don’t imagine that I’m alone in my puzzlement in re the antics of the political world these days. I don’t pretend to understand (or even want to, I’m thinking) the subterranean motivations that clearly are designed to induce as much irrational FEAR of anything and/or everything in the minds of certain segments of the population (read: Republicans, Right Wingers, Tea Partiers). Still, I doubt few can deny the unfortunate reality that FEAR is one of the most effective political motivators out there. Brings to mind a remarkably prescient article written by Paul Krugman in 2006, halfway through the G.W. Bush administration’s second term. Krugman wrote (highlights mine):
“In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration adopted fear-mongering as a political strategy. Instead of treating the attack as what it was — an atrocity committed by a fundamentally weak, though ruthless adversary — the administration portrayed America as a nation under threat from every direction.
“Most Americans have now regained their balance. But the Republican base, which lapped up the administration’s rhetoric about the axis of evil and the war on terror, remains infected by the fear the Bushies stirred up – perhaps because fear of terrorists maps so easily into the base’s older fears, including fear of dark-skinned people in general. And the base is looking for a candidate who shares this fear.
“Just to be clear, Al Qaeda is a real threat, and so is the Iranian nuclear program. But neither of these threats frightens me as much as fear itself — the unreasoning fear that has taken over one of America’s two great political parties.“
Nothing has changed, except maybe the focus of the fear-induced wrath. Below are three publicly published citizen comments, also from 2006. The writers are clearly of right wing persuasion, but I have a sneaking hunch that were they commenting today on current events their collective attitude might be a wee bit different?
“Recent poll numbers show President Bush’s popularity at an all-time low of 32 percent. I would like to be counted as a staunch Bush supporter and a member of 32 Percent Club. In my eyes, no matter how educators, the press, TV commentators and so-called ‘experts’ twist the facts, distort the news and bash my president with accusations and blame, you can not obscure reality and that is: the economy is solid; Osama bin Laden is holed up in a rathole somewhere, and Iraq is doing its best to shake off the shackles of terrorism while reaching out for a piece of freedom and democracy. ~Kenneth Server, Prescott Valley, AZ, in a letter to the Ed., Arizona Republic, April 28, 2006
“Our president has sworn to uphold the Constitution and to protect its citizens. The National Security Agency’s program to wiretap international communications of some Americans, without a court warrant, is one of those protective measures.” ~Ben Swank, Glendale AZ, in a letter to the editor published by the Arizona Republic, August 21, 2006
“I have had it with Sen. John McCain and his new political gambit. He is directly undermining the president of the United States, intelligence agencies and our national security for his own political gain. The next attack on the United States is on him and Sens. John Warner, Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham. If we can’t get information from our prisoners by means that have been successful in the past, we will be attacked in the future. Sen. McCain and the others want to protect the rights of the terrorists and make America less safe. Benedict Arnold was an American hero and ended up being a traitor for the British during the American Revolution. Sen. McCain was an American hero during the Vietnam War and now is a traitor for the terrorists.” ~Robert R. Jacobs, Glendale AZ; September 20, 2006 ‘letter to the editor’ published in the Arizona Republic
So. Times have changed. No more bin Laden, no more distorting of the news, no more bashing of the President, and with McCain now largely relegated to multiple appearances on the Sunday talk circuit, all is well. Right? I mean, the NSA’s warrantless spying on citizens is STILL protecting us . . . something like that. All of which means that today, there is no reason for the Republican base to fear anything!! Right? Right.
No matter how much some things change, the more they remain the same. I read that somewhere. In this crazy world, it all makes perfect sense.
HAVE NO FEAR, the OPEN THREAD IS HERE!