John Colson: Hit and Run
October 6, 2011
I see that Rush Limbaugh, defying all manner of sense and justice, is still spewing his especially vile form of political pabulum all over the landscape, and the tea baggers are egging him on.
This unsettling realization came in the form of an e-mailed newsletter from something called “e-TeaParty.org,” which I reckon is tea-bagging gone viral on the internet.
I should note that the phrase, tea bagging, is my way of associating Tea Party palaver with the cowardly act known historically as “sand-bagging,” or hitting an unsuspecting opponent, from an unexpected direction, with a sack of worthless but heavy grit.
There is another definition for the phrase, of which I was forcefully informed about a while ago, but we’ll leave that alone for now.
Anyway, old Rush was tea-bagging away at President Obama, by way of this newsletter, with the tired old charge that Obama is a socialist, his policies are socialistic and he is out to destroy the American dream.
Now, to begin with, that is about as ridiculous an idea as any that have cropped up in recent years, even from a source as badly misinformed and maldirected as the Tea Party.
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But calling Obama a socialist is just one of many pathetically obvious grabs for attention by a bunch of no-nothing, right-wing extremists, so I guess we shouldn’t really expect much in the way of rational discourse.
The plain fact of the matter is that Obama is a left-leaning member of the American ruling class, a wealthy man who has pulled himself up by his own efforts to become the leader of the free world.
To call him a socialist is an insult to true socialists everywhere, since socialists are by definition a political movement aimed at redistributing wealth among the working classes and eliminating the disparity between rich and poor. Period.
Obama, who campaigned with all kinds of promising rhetoric, has turned out to be just another politician, and one with no more backbone than any of his predecessors when it comes to enacting the real reforms needed by this country. He is a mainstream apologist for the upper crust, a believer in corporate America, an acolyte of the myth that Wall Street has the best interest of the nation at heart. He is no socialist.
To tea baggers, though, calling him a socialist provides a throwback to the halcyon days of Joe McCarthy, the erstwhile U.S. senator from Wisconsin who used what was then known as anti-communism to whip the uneducated of America into a frenzy.
McCarthy’s self-aggrandizing stratagem was to use his bully pulpit to condemn any free-thinking, anti-establishment man or woman, in government or in Hollywood, and string him or her up on a scaffold built of intolerance and narrow-mindedness.
It worked, too, for a while, although McCarthy’s name is now synonymous with such concepts as the misuse of power for entirely selfish ends, and the use of mass ignorance as a club with which to bludgeon one’s foes.
Sound familiar? Do the names Limbaugh and Tea Party come to mind?
In the recent newsletter, I should add, Limbaugh rails against the very idea of compromise as a political tool, asking web surfers, “Will somebody please tell me how we compromise with socialists?”
Noting that the Democrats lost 63 seats in the House in the 2010 midterm elections, he spouts, “Winners don’t compromise with losers.” Likening Democrats to the Japanese and Germans who lost World War II, Limbaugh says of the WWII losers, “We gave them the terms of surrender, and they signed them.”
I don’t know about you, but I refuse to characterize the game of politics in our country as a war, a contest of militant opponents who, if they win one electoral cycle, take that victory as justification for ignoring or punishing that half of the country that did not vote for them.
And this is one of the chief problems I have with the tea baggers and their ilk. They are militantly intolerant of anyone but themselves, they have no understanding of the pluralism that has been the foundation of this nation’s political evolution, and they view everyone who is not with them as subhuman.
Political thugs such as these must long for a return to the 19th century American south. Back then, they could all have worn sheets and pointy hoods on dark nights. And instead of performing symbolic lynchings of the targets of their bilious invective, they could have done the real thing.