Saturday, March 30, 2013

Liz Cheney's bug-eyed right-wing paranoia

I keep pointing out the complete insanity on the right, but, admittedly, Glenn Beck is low-hanging fruit. So, lest you think this is just on the fringe of the Republican Party, let me present Liz Cheney, the daughter of Dick Cheney and a State Department deputy assistant during the Bush administration.

From Jonathan Chait:
Even after four years of bug-eyed right-wing paranoia, Cheney’s op-ed [in the Wall Street Journal, of course] stands out for its utter dearth of the slightest whiff of perspective or factual grounding. President Obama, she tells us, “is the most radical man ever to occupy the Oval Office.” He has “launched a war on Americans' Second Amendment rights.” He does not want the economy to grow. (“He believes in greater redistribution of a much smaller pie.”) Obama “seems unaware that the free-enterprise system has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system devised by man” — which is odd, because Obama is always saying things like “business, and not government, will always be the primary generator of good jobs with incomes that lift people into the middle class and keep them there.” The best approximations of America’s future under Obama are tiny European nations that lack control of their own currency. (“If you're unsure of what this America would look like, Google ‘Cyprus’ or ‘Greece.’”)

One might charitably attribute Cheney’s crazed rants on domestic policy to her attempting to opine on matters outside her field of expertise. Yet her litany of foreign-policy accusations is actually even more unhinged. Obama, she argues, has not only weakened America, he wants to weaken America’s world standing in the same way he wants to shrink its economy (“there is no longer a question of whether this was his intent”). He wants to “pre-emptively disarm the United States.”

She fears that we will somehow lack the nuclear capacity to deter foes that might obtain the tiniest fraction of our nuclear strength. (Obama “advocates slashing our nuclear arsenal even as the North Koreans threaten us and the Iranians close in on their own nuclear weapon.”) She believes “Al Qaeda is resurgent across the Middle East” and that Obama “stood by and did nothing” in the face of the attack in Libya, an especially bizarre belief considering Obama’s specific responses to the attack in Libya and general four-year record of endless drone strikes and, well, you know.

Yeah, this sounds a lot like Matthew Staver, but Liz Cheney is as mainstream as you get in the Republican Party. Her father was vice-president, for chrissake! And she, too, had an important position in the Bush administration. If she's just... insane, so is the rest of the GOP.

The Wall Street Journal editorial pages specialize in wild-eyed rants, especially now that it's owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., the parent company of Fox 'News.' But that's not the fringe of the Republican Party, either. That is the Republican Party these days.

And how could anyone sane, anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the Obama administration and the events of the past four years, come up with conclusions this divorced from reality? That rant wouldn't surprise me from Rush Limbaugh, because Limbaugh makes a living being as outrageous as possible. That's his whole act as a media figure.

But this? Has the entire GOP become unhinged from reality? (In a word,... yes.) Is it just because they've lost the last two presidential elections, or is it because they lost to a black man? There's got to be more than just politics here, don't you think? How else can you explain complete insanity like this?

There's more, but I'll let Steve Benen tell this part:
It's a truly ridiculous tirade with all the sophistication and accuracy of a Breitbart comments section. But there's also an unintentionally amusing part -- Cheney's unhinged rant includes this Ronald Reagan quote from 1961:
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it and then hand it to them with the well-taught lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don't do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free."

This is, to be sure, a popular quote on the right, and if it seems familiar to long-time readers, it's because I've written about it several times before. ...

"This" was referring to preventing the creation of Medicare. Reagan warned Americans in 1961 that Medicare, if approved, would turn the United States into a dystopian nightmare. In the same recording Cheney quoted, Reagan argued that if Medicare became law, we'd see federal officials empowered to dictate where physicians could practice medicine, and open the door to government control over where Americans were allowed to live. In fact, he warned that if Medicare passed, there was a real possibility that the federal government would control where Americans go and what we do for a living.

And so, freedom-loving Americans had to stop Medicare or we "may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free."

We now know, with the benefit of hindsight, that Reagan's paranoid rant was wrong, and hysterically so. His predictions didn't come true, and Medicare did not destroy American freedom. Those who are actually in their sunset years are delighted with Medicare, and are not sitting around, longing wistfully for an America where seniors seeking medical care were forced into poverty.

Cheney, either out of confusion, negligence, ignorance, or willful disregard of the truth, thinks Reagan's warnings from a half-century ago "still ring true." They do? How? What is Cheney talking about?

As Chait added, far-right paranoia seems to be bequeathed from one generation of deranged conservatives to the next. Social Security was going to destroy America, they said. When that didn't happen, it was Medicare that would crush our way of life, they said. When that didn't happen either, it was the Affordable Care Act -- the dreaded "Obamcare" -- that threatened everything Americans hold dear.

The delusions, like Cheney's op-ed, are laughable.

I don't know. Ronald Reagan was certainly paranoid on the subject of Medicare, but I don't know if we've ever seen the complete insanity we see today among Republicans. Has it always been this bad? Really? No, it can't have been, or America would never have made it this far.

Here in Nebraska, the same seniors who love their Medicare tend to approve of Saint Reagan's quote, without having the slightest idea that he was actually talking about... Medicare. Cheney must know that - she certainly should - but it doesn't seem to register with her. Or maybe she's just cynical enough to use it for partisan political purposes, anyway.

Of course, Republicans are still trying to end Medicare. They're still trying to turn it into a voucher system, making seniors try to find their own insurance - if they can. They exempt their own elderly supporters, of course, because seniors would bury them if they tried to mess with Medicare for themselves.

I don't know. The whole thing is Completely. Batshit. Crazy!  Republican leaders, shaken by last November's election, keep talking about changing their messaging, as if their only problem is how they phrase their arguments, or the specific words they use. But the real problem is their mindset.

In their notorious 'Southern strategy,' Republican leaders thought to use crazy people to advance their own agenda. But insanity must be catching, don't you think? Certainly, the entire party seems to have gone nuts these days.

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