Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Neoconning The Beast

Now ah say, ah say, look heah boy
The last Republican debate of September is fast approaching, and one of the common themes I've noticed since Rick Perry threw his hat into the ring is: nobody in the media seems to care about just how dangerous this guy is.  In fact, they seem to be falling all over themselves to give him as much air time as possible.  Those of us who watched CNN's livestream online saw Wolf Blitzer immediately approach Rick Perry after the debate, and said "You did an excellent job tonight."  Excellent job, sir!  May I have another?

Perhaps they fear slander charges if they delve too deeply into Rick Perry's career, and accuse him of being the bigoted, sleazy, psychotic piece of shit he really is.  Or maybe they are just shilling for access to the top polling figure (currently) in the Republican field, like an addict who sucks dick for one more hit of smack.

In that spirit, I'm going to post a paper I wrote recently about one such media hack and the kid gloves he put on to hit Perry.  If schooling allows, I'll be writing more generally about Perry's hypocrisy, profiteering, and blood thirst tomorrow, while wrapping up with his insane theology before the debates.  If you're as terrified of Rick Perry and his not unreal shot at the Presidency like I am, please help get the word out to anybody you know.  Even for a right wing Tea Party sockpuppet, there is plenty of reason not to support Perry.

            In “President Rick Perry?” New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks, talks about Rick Perry’s chances at becoming the Republican nominee for president in 2012.  Brooks uses the history of the Republican electorate’s shifting values in order to make a case for why Perry has such a good chance.  The only problem is that his analysis falls far short of reality, avoiding an in-depth explanation for why the electorate has changed and instead falling back on events during the Obama administration to explain this shift.  Brooks shows his hand as a conservative hack, selectively remembering the events which shaped his party as the neoconservative revolution he was a part of crumbles down around him.
            Texas governor Rick Perry is a very dangerous man.  He uses the politics of strength in order to position himself as a strongman who will take on America’s enemies, and he’s used his political clout to profit immensely from government largesse.[1]  As a man who campaigns to the Tea Party side of the GOP, it demonstrates a willingness to deceive the electorate in any way possible just to win the presidency.  Any conservative worth his salt could smell this turd coming a mile away, yet Brooks soft shoes the danger Perry represents to his beloved party.
            To be fair, Brooks does mention his pay-to-play schemes in passing, as well as his association with the Al Gore presidential campaign of 1988, and his endorsement of Rudy Giuliani.  It all suggests in Brooks’s words, that he is “ideologically slippery.”[2]  While this may be true, it doesn’t go nearly in-depth enough as an analysis.  “Al Gore appeared to be the most conservative — a strong Strategic Defense Initiative guy — and frankly, we thought that he would be the most conservative Democrat,” Perry said.”[3]  This doesn’t indicate a man who is “ideologically slippery,” it’s illustrative of a man who is obsessed with power, particularly national defense at a time when the Reagan Revolution had aligned the United States completely against the “Evil Empire.”  Al Gore himself, as the quote suggests, has changed his rhetoric markedly over the years; but just because he supports green causes these days, that does not mean he’s gotten any softer on defense issues.  The same appears to be true for Perry, which means that it’s not his ideology that has changed but his party affiliation.   Rudy Giuliani was also campaigning hard based on being the Defense President, rallying New York during 9/11.  The Republican electorate didn’t buy it, but Rick Perry apparently did.  This suggests that he’s open to buying an image, the same kind he’s selling as a presidential candidate.
            So what about the shift in the electorate that supports Perry?  “The events of 2009 and 2010 — bailouts, health care reform, the stimulus package — substantially shifted voter attitudes and nothing that has happened in 2011 has altered that shift.”[4]  So the changes in the Republican electorate only go back to 2009, almost as if the last eight years before that never happened.  It’s incredibly lazy, or foolhardy, for a man as aged as Mr. Brooks to conveniently leave out the cultural shift that occurred due to the Bush Presidency and 9/11.  Although I would argue it’s more disingenuous, because as a Neoconservative Mr. Brooks would probably rather forget the eight years that his fellow ideologues conned America into a pointless war based on false pretenses, and drove the economy into the ground with military adventurism and tax cuts.  The politics of strength which Perry plays to wouldn’t be nearly as popular, had Bush not made himself a War President following the disaster of 9/11.  Politics of strength go hand-in-hand with the politics of fear, a fear fomented by the right wing rags and propaganda outlets Brooks conveniently fails to mention in his article.
            Not once in his article did Brooks even mention the “Tea Party.”  It’s just been a “rightward shift” to the “alternative-reality right,”[5] pretty harsh words for a man who acts as if the years 2001-2008 never happened.  Reputable journalistic outlets have been dealing with the astroturfed nature of the Tea Party, as it was largely financed by the secretive billionaire Koch Brothers.[6]  Propaganda mills like Tea Party organizations and Fox News, have been playing up the bailouts, healthcare reform, and the stimulus package as wicked attacks by Big Government on the taxpayers/job creators that make this nation great.  Ignoring the immense role that moneyed propaganda has played in the Republican Party’s rightward shift is extremely disingenuous, for a man whose intellectual legacy can’t help but see any diplomatic action as a throw-back to the Munich Agreement.[7]  Yet Brooks himself is “ideologically slippery,” considering he used to consider himself a liberal before he couldn’t handle a debate with Milton Friedman.[8]  So it’s not surprising that he completely fails historical analysis when he couldn’t even familiarize himself with the rhetoric of the most influential conservative thinker of the modern era.
            Brooks completely fails in analyzing the history which pushed the rightward shift within the GOP, and why it supports the Perry campaign.  All events in the present are interconnected with events in the past, going back decades if not centuries in terms of ideological thought.  Had Brooks been serious about discussing the rightward shift in the GOP, he could have talked about the Reagan Revolution or the Goldwater Insurgency, both of which represented small-government conservatism in the Republican field.  Or perhaps he could have started with the Bush years, when fear and paranoia fueled the expansion of the security state, and caused people to conflate “defense” with “toughness.”  Yet Brooks doesn’t appear to want to think that far back, because it was an embarrassing time for his ideological colleagues.  His piece confirms what is for me, a valuable rule of thumb when considering the opinions of Weekly Standard authors: Neoconservatives are always wrong!

[1] Darrel Preston, “Perry’s ‘Pay-to-Play’ Job-Incentive Funds Miss Targets in Texas,” Bloomberg, Aug 31, 2011, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-01/perry-s-pay-to-play-job-incentive-funds-miss-targets-in-texas.html (accessed September 6, 2011)
[2] David Brooks, “President Rick Perry?,” The New York Times, August 25, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/26/opinion/brooks-president-rick-perry.html?_r=1&ref=davidbrooks (accessed September 6, 2011)
[3] Aaron Blake, “Rick Perry’s Al Gore Problem,” The Washington Post, September 6, 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/rick-perrys-al-gore-problem/2011/09/06/gIQAJz1A7J_blog.html (accessed September 6, 2011)
[4] Brooks.
[5] Ibid.
[6] George Monbiot, “The Tea Party movement: deluded and inspired by billionaires,” The Guardian, October 25, 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/oct/25/tea-party-koch-brothers (accessed on September 6, 2011)
[7] Revbludge, “The Munich Analogy, Part 2: The Neocons and the Appeasement Meme,” Daily Kos, May 21, 2008, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/05/21/517114/-The-Munich-Analogy,-Part-2:-The-Neocons-and-the-Appeasement-Meme (accessed on September 6, 2011)
[8] Mary Ruth Yoe, “Everybody’s a critic,” University of Chicago Magazine, February 2004, http://magazine.uchicago.edu/0402/features/index-brooks.shtml (accessed on September 6, 2011)

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