Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Taibbi: This Isn't Just Another Silly Season In America

Matt Taibbi is feeling kind of queasy:

...for the new GOP, compromise of any kind defeats their central purpose, which is political totale krieg. This party's entire reason for being is conflict and aggression. There is no underlying patriotic instinct to find middle ground with the rest of us, because the party doesn't have a vision for society that includes anyone outside the tent.

This is a more advanced and appropriate way to look at the GOP right now than my old "Easter egg" metaphor - it's not so much that there are no Republican policy solutions in sight as that they only exist, as Taibbi writes, to create "conflict and aggression."

I've always been queasy about piling on against the Republicans because it's intellectually too easy; I also worry a lot that the habit pundits have of choosing sides and simply beating on the other party contributes to the extremist tone of the culture war.
But the time is coming when we are all going to be forced to literally take sides in a political conflict far more serious and extreme than we're used to imagining. The situation is such a tinderbox now that all it will take is some prominent politician to openly acknowledge the fact of a cultural/civil war for the real craziness to begin. 
I respect Taibbi for this - he has teed off (arguably) *more* on Obama and the Democrats since 2008 or so than he has on Republicans. I thought at first this was more an obsession with Goldman-Sachs alumni (which Obama collects like the fabled Pokemon of yore) than even-handedness, but I've come to enjoy Taibbi's writing more for it.

Most people aren't thinking about this because we're so accustomed to thinking of America as a stable, conservative place where politics is not a life-or-death affair but more something that people like to argue about over dinner, as entertainment almost. But it's headed in another, more twisted direction. I'm beginning to wonder if this election season is going to be one none of us ever forget – a 1968 on crack. 

I don't share Taibbi's trepidation, because I thought (and still think so far) that the Republican tantrums over Obama's election have decreased slightly in volume over the last two years or so. Also, the Tea Party has plunged in the polls (as have Congresspeople of both political persuasions), to a greater extent, even, than Obama.

Maybe the debt ceiling crisis was, as Taibbi writes, a major turning point in terms of what our elected officials are willing to play fast and loose with in exchange for their way. It could  be that I just haven't been turning over the right rocks. Even the electoral frothiness over at World Net Daily seems tinny and false in its optimism and gung-ho "defeat Obama or we're all cooked" fervor.

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