Monday, March 21, 2016

George Will, George Won't

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
"(Trump) would have to get 70 percent of the white vote. A, it won’t happen and B, it would destroy the Republican Party by making it the party of white people." - George Will, March 20, 2016

     With the death years ago of William F. Buckley, George Will seems to have inherited by default the mantle of the conservative movement's Incredibly Serious Intellectual Savant (the acronym, of course, is strictly coincidental). When one looks over the conservative intellectual landscape populated by Jonah Goldberg, Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson and other right wing intellectual flyweights, it's easy to see how Will got the standard shoved in his hand. He sounds like an obsolete android, he wears strictly conservative suits and he wears glasses, Goddamn it.
     George Will carries a lot of gravitas and weight in his columns and occasional public pronouncements. Granted, he's not influential enough to shape policy on the Hill by one iota, no journalist is, but I imagine his syndicated column is read by a lot of Wall Street types in their 50th floor corner offices who feel a significant tumescence when they think and fantasize about the size of their portfolios. In other words, white men.
     Which brings me to the thrust of this article.
     Yesterday morning on Fox "News" Sunday, Will made an amazing pronouncement. It was amazing not for its stunning incisiveness but for how thoroughly cherry-picked its conclusion was. When talking about Roger Ailes' abusive domestic partner Donald Trump, Will confidently set about reciting numbers memorized by rote like a Red Sox fan talking about Ted Williams' achievements. And he was right about every one of them.
     Then he gets to his peroration, that if Donald Trump gets elected President, he will turn the GOP into the party of white people.
     Yes, Virginia,there is a Santa Claus, although, contrary to Megyn Kelly, he's not necessarily white.
     As he was working his way up to his conclusion, Will, seemingly without the slightest trace of irony, then listed examples of other white men who had run for and won the presidency, including George HW Bush, George Wallace, Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan. And all George W proved in name dropping those august statesman was in proving that in recent memory all the GOP ever has been was not only old white men but old white men named George.

By George, I Don't Think He's Got It
     But wait.Wasn't George Wallace a Democrat?
     Yes, yes he was. He was a Democrat in the technical sense that Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller was not to mention Strom Thurmond early in his political career. Wallace, to anyone who doesn't watch television involving an octagon, a wrestling ring or a NASCAR track, was what's long since been called a Dixiecrat. Thurmond, while Governor of South Carolina, ran for President against Thomas E. Dewey and President Harry Truman on the 1948 Democratic ticket. But Thurmond's entire platform seemed to consist of enforcing the segregation in the South he felt would be threatened by the more liberal elements of his party.
     Thurmond, as we all know, later became a Republican when he felt his obsolete, antebellum view of the Democratic Party had betrayed him and the cause for "states' rights." (Remember Reagan's famous comment that "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me." In other words, it left him in the 19th century while the Democrats progressed into the 20th.) And while Thurmond's defection itself didn't bring about the Nixon-era Southern Strategy completely ignored by Will, it was certainly symptomatic of the disaffection the South felt about the fall of the confederacy, the abolition of slavery and the humiliation of Reconstruction.
     The Republican Party's ingeniousness was in convincing millions of low-information voters to blame liberal Democrats for their miserable lot in life instead of the conservative values that brought about the ruinous Civil War in the first place (a war of "states' rights" that still, over a century and a half later, has destructive consequences). Will slipping in George Wallace's name was sneaky and apparently not even noticed by the Fox panel. It seemed to be Will perpetuating the old trope that Democrats (aka liberals) also engage in antebellum racism. It doesn't seem to matter to Will that George Wallace, and others of his ilk, did not represent the mainstream Democratic establishment that gave us the Civil Rights Act (which Thurmond viciously filibustered for over 24 straight hours in 1957) and the Voting Rights Act in 1964 and 1965, respectively. And it's no coincidence that Thurmond became a Republican in 1964, the year LBJ signed the CRA into law.

What if We Held a Debate and No Republicans Showed Up?
     How soon Will forgot his recent history, such as July 12, 2007, when xenophobic racist Tom Tancredo won the NAACP GOP debate simply by showing up. One could almost suspect the NAACP of entrapment by even agreeing to host a GOP debate in the first place but if that was their aim, it worked magnificently. Out of the nine GOP contenders invited, all but Tancredo had "scheduling conflicts" that prevented their attendance. Of course, we all know the reason for the almost unanimous absences: It's the same reason Donald Trump pretends to have never heard of David Duke while refusing to condemn the KKK:
     Alienation of the disaffected white southern voters who still believe, and will always believe to their dying day, that mainstream Democrats and liberals are the root cause of all their ills. Forget the fact that a direct line can be drawn between the old Dixiecrats and the latter day GOP simply by taking a cursory look at their never-ending attempts to disenfranchise African American and other Democratic-leaning minority voters. The common denominator for the official and unofficial Jim Crow laws is the very racism embraced and used to cynical advantage by Trump and his conservative predecessors.
     But the fact remains that to this day, there are only three African American Republicans currently serving in Congress, including appointee Senator Tim Scott from Thurmond's state of SC, the first southern African American to be voted into the upper chamber since the 1880's. And there's a perfectly valid reason why, without exception, every single African American member of Congress up until 1935 ran as a Republican. That was during the early Roosevelt years when the Democrats became the good guys and the Republicans eventually ossified into the party of white men.
     Which Will is only now saying it will become in a purely theoretical sense, if Trump gets elected president.
     Perhaps the quintessential right wing bean counter needs to attend a Cruz rally or any Teabagger rally and see if he can count the black faces. Perhaps he can dig up four year-old pictures of the Romney campaign to see how many black people were in attendance. Or McCain's campaign from eight years ago, especially after the introduction of a certain Wasilla hillbilly who spoke about "white real America."
     And when Will's time comes to join William F. Buckley on that Big Fainting Couch in the Sky, perhaps David Brooks will then assume the mantle of America's most prominent intellectual conservative. But Brooks is himself the master cherry picker, the Earl of Ideological Elision, unable to see the real, inherent racist evil of his chosen party. And when Our Dear Mr. Brooks does assume that mantle, the conservative movement will be no better off than it is now.


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