In our peculiar time, with our memories offloaded online, nothing is easily forgotten. Yet while right-wing exploiters of public doubt and fear make up factoids to add fuel to the fires they have lit, the so-called progressive side too often lets easily proven facts go by unnoticed.
I believe one should never forget to keep the minds of readers on conservative Republicans who have not given into the neo-confederate narrative, those like David Frum, Peggy Noonan and Joe Scarborough who maintain a high memory for governing and compromise. They stand against shallow posturing and burning one’s own house down and selling out to the destructive lobbyists of big business.
Consider those whose postured shallowness has become obvious of late: Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. The nose-dive in our digital era means the same thing it always did — crashing and perhaps burning. When this happens in high politics, it could be no more enjoyable to one’s enemies — if they know what to do with it.
Palin’s supporters are not coughing up the bucks to her PAC. The queen of Mooseburger, Alaska, has lost her charm, seeming not a bad seed so much as an ignorant and inarticulate one.
Hannity has embarrassed himself by practically drooling over Palin, perhaps because he enjoyed the sound of gray matter bouncing around in her cranium, where there is so much room. But perhaps the most remarkable proof of the pretentious lightweight that he is was the way he went down before Robert Gibbs in their famous 2008 encounter, falling “like sheep,” as the Midwestern Indians said about Custer’s troops at the debacle of Little Bighorn.
But it is Limbaugh who may be sinking most swiftly into a bog of disfavor after his bad-boy act helped Mitt Romney and the GOP lose the votes of Republican women to Obama. They were repulsed by his attacks on a 30-year-old woman studying at Georgetown named Sandra Fluke, who got on a panel to talk about women’s health issues.
Far from boldly but with plenty of venom, Rush got rolling and called Fluke a slut and a prostitute who wanted to be paid for having sex, since she wanted insurance to cover her birth control. In what analysts call projection, Rush proclaimed that if taxpayers should pay for that, then she in turn should put her erotic life on YouTube, so that he and his pals could see what they were underwriting.
This cannot and should not be forgotten.
Americans too often appropriate New Testament forgiveness in order to avoid hard facts or repulsive or opportunistic performance personalities.
I always oppose Limbaugh and his ilk because they are ready and willing to say whatever will work to exploit fear and insecurity for profit. It is doubtful that they believe much of the most repulsive things they say: It is all about the money; a sucker sandwich looking for a chump.
If we misinterpret their huckster act, and dismiss their belligerence as “fun,” we help them dismiss those who do not find them “funny” as too uptight.
Bigots always tend to present themselves as good boys just trying to get past the boring with some humor. They want to keep themselves interested, and they do things that are pretty desperate just to escape being bored.
Stupidity is not the problem at all. The novelist Milan Kundera points out that it was once thought that stupidity could be easily cured with knowledge; that was wrong. The addiction to influential power based in untruths modernizes itself in step with everything else. It repackages itself with misused scientific facts, statistics and gleaming new tricks, but the new dog is always old with classic and ominous stupidity. Propaganda has become a popular melodrama, especially when driven by self-pity.
People love to feel victimized, threatened and on the verge of being destroyed. Shallow science fiction, held in place with the newest technology forming its special effects, runs very strong.
Because they seem to no longer excite their audience in numbers as big as they used to be, Limbaugh, Palin and Hannity will slowly go down and seem done for; however, they will return in a smaller venue, because the public always loves bad movies.
Stanley Crouch can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.