Sunday, January 29, 2012

Conniption Accomplished

RWA1 has returned, with a link to a Washington Post column by George Will denouncing Obama's celebration of the American military in his State of the Union speech. "Americans are not bloody likely to be marching in lockstep with our aspiring Mussolini this fall. the continuum from Teddy Roosevelt to Mussolini is not as far as American 'progressives' like to think," RWA1 commented.

My jaw literally (by which I mean "figuratively," of course) dropped when I read that. I guess it has been long enough now since the shooting of Gabby Giffords that the Right can start calling their opponents fascists again. Why, it was almost exactly a year ago that RWA1 was whimpering, along with his fellow-travelers, "It is time to retire analogies to Nazis and fascists once and for all." Even then, though, it was clear that this stricture applied only to Democrats and liberals, not to the Republican fringe. And anyway, that was then, this is now.

Still, I'm amazed by the Right's attack on Obama for indulging in some very routine military-stroking. Stuff like this:
At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together. Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Think about the America within our reach.
Compared to Bush's Commander Codpiece performance on the USS Abraham Lincoln, or his chest-bumping with Air Force Academy cadets, Obama's just going through the motions. (If he hadn't praised Our Troops, the Right would have attacked him for that.) Roy Edroso did a post this weekend on the right-wing legacy blogger Jonah Goldberg's attack on Obama's remarks. I imagine that with George Will also on the case, we'll see more of it. As with Republican criticism of Obama for using a teleprompter (a Reagan standby), it makes no sense, since Republicans have never hesitated to drape themselves in the flag and hide behind our fighting men, who got hurt protecting our right to dissent, which is why we should just shut up. (Which, again, means that we should not criticize Republican presidents. Sheer banshee howling against Democratic Presidents, including those who are Republican except in name, is okay.)

Elements of the Right have been stumbling on the mandatory worship of Our Troops lately, though. It's okay to hate them openly if they're sons of Sodom, for example. As with Newt Gingrich's sex life, this is only of interest because of the hypocrisy involved. I don't really care how many wives or mistresses Gingrich has had; what I do care about is the way he expects others to overlook his tomcatting while he continues to attack other people, gay and straight, for screwing around.

As for the rest of RWA1's remarks, I'm not a fan of Teddy Roosevelt, who was a blood-and-soil racist. (For anyone else besides TR, though, RWA1 protests that they're just trying to defend their culture.) Yup, it's true that Democrats and progressives have been big boosters of American imperialism (a term you'd better not use around RWA1 and others of his ilk), as shown by Richard Seymour in The Liberal Defence of Murder (Verso, 2008); hell, Noam Chomsky has been describing and condemning for years the American progressive push to get the United States into World War I, and their pride in spearheading the propaganda campaign to bring it about. But I never heard a peep from RWA1 or most of the Right about Bush/Cheney's militarism and trampling on civil liberties at home; I guess it's only bad when Obama does it. Bush's critics were denounced by the Right as the Islamofascists' fifth column, or their "useful idiots." Now Obama's apologists attack his critics in similar terms, which is a reminder that Partei -- oops, party loyalty and leader worship are the deciding factors here.

For all of that, though, RWA1, like the Right generally, can't bring himself to criticize Obama's actual policies and practice, not surprising since they are mainly Bush's policies and practice. Such criticism -- like serious criticism of Obama's SOTU militarism -- is the province of the Left. I don't recall RWA1 posting anything about Obama's arrogation of the power to kill and detain Americans without due process; nor could he bring himself to oppose the NATO intervention in Libya. What he thinks about Iran I don't know; I suppose that like most of the American Right and "center" he toes the Bush/Obama propaganda line about Iran as nuclear threat, but that's just it. Instead of going after specific cases, which he probably approves -- or will approve, as soon as we can get a Republican president into office -- he picks on some comparatively innocuous boilerplate in a State of the Union address.

As for "Americans are not bloody likely to be marching in lockstep with our aspiring Mussolini this fall," that has to be whistling in the dark. I suspect that for most Americans, the sentiment is bloody likely to echo our attitude during the Clinton sex scandal and impeachment: we know that the Republican candidates -- our aspiring Hitlers, I'll call them just this once, since RWA1 has brought the analogy out of retirement -- aren't attacking Obama because they care about ordinary citizens or the nation. It's primarily because he's a Democrat, second because he's black, third because he remains popular despite (or because) of the vitriol the Right throws at him. (I mean, look at me: I'm defending Obama against Republican attacks, and not because I support Obama but because the Republicans are so blatantly dishonest.) The sheer derangement of their accusations is a signal that not only that the Republicans should not be trusted with political office, it's a wonder they can find their way out the door each day. The scary part is that Obama's Democratic defenders, instead of responding sensibly, generally prefer to echo the Republican dementia.