Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wingnuts! Get Your Red-Hot Wingnuts Right Here!

This week's Snark O'The Week Prize goes to Vanity Fair's James Walcott for his reference to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) as Bachmann Moron Overdrive which brings to mind —

[x YouTube/Jamy286 Channel]
"Takin' Care Of Business" (1973)
By Bachman Turner Overdrive

Indeed, Snarkmesister Walcott delivers rights and lefts to most of the Dumbo/Teabagger wannabes. If this is a (fair & balanced) combination of snide and remark, so be it.

[x VF]
Looking For Love In All The Right Places
By James Wolcott

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Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line” has been an article of political faith and a staple of punditry since the notion was popularized by Bill Clinton, who barbecued Kennedy charisma into a hunka hunka burnin’ love. Like so many political truisms, the conceit that Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are from Venus has a slick, pop-psych plausibility. Republicans: steely, rational, paternalistic, respectful of authority, easy to herd, the party of No. Democrats: sugary, emotional, idealistic, yearning for novelty, hard to marshal, the party of Oh Yeah, Baby, Make Mama Feel Good. In 2008, Barack Obama did get Democrats hyperventilating, whipped up to a creamy froth, while John McCain creaked ahead like a cranky granddad whom Republicans let move to the front of the buffet line, deferring to seniority, as they had in 1996, when Bob Dole turtled to the top of the ticket. But this may have been the last hurrah for the Republican’s hierarchal heirdom. In the Tea Party era, it is the restless conservative Republican who has become passion’s plaything, the toy of impetuous romance, an erotomania only intensified by the lusting for an upstart savior. (No elected Democrat gets his or her fans as Justin Bieber-frenzied as that Republican derringer Ron Paul, whose son Rand, freshman senator from Kentucky, has become the new curly darling.) Republicans grudgingly fell into line behind McCain not because subservience is downloaded into their lockstep brains, but because their hearts’ desires pulled up lame, scratched themselves from the race.

It’s difficult now to recall the improbable excitement that Fred Thompson aroused when he pawed the earth and parked a kingpin cigar in his mouth, indicating his inclination to run. He got off to a slow start that led to an even slower finish, though for a few tantalizing moments he showed signs of animation. At the conservative National Review Online’s group blog, The Corner, Peter Robinson, the author of a book about Ronald Reagan (every contributor to National Review Online has authored a book on Reagan), heard tell that Thompson was starting to tear up the turf in a key southern primary:

Earlier today I talked with an old friend who’s close to the Thompson campaign. At every Thompson campaign stop in South Carolina, he told me, there is something new: real excitement The state troopers are showing that special deference and respect they reserve for candidates whom they actually suspect will soon become the commander in chief. And Thompson himself is pointed, energetic, combative. In other words, the campaign feels as though its achieving liftoff.

An optical illusion fueled by wishful thinking, it turned out. It wasn’t the first stage of liftoff but the final stage of poop-out. Rudolph Giuliani, Mr. 9/11, didn’t even enjoy that brief tingle of false hope. In 2007 he had been trouncing his rivals in the polls of likely candidates. He looked so good on paper, so forceful, so dynamic, so command-ready, but when he delivered himself in person, it was as if the wrong date had shown up at the door. The door closed before he could retract his scary grin. Mitt Romney—he had a Rock Hudson thing going, shoeblack hair and a well-hung résumé, but even for a shameless, position-shifting phony he seemed a trifle insincere. It wasn’t until McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate that the flaming desire of the far right found its Red Queen. But as of this writing, Palin is undeclared, leaving all that love with nowhere and everywhere to go.

It is a time of great frustration for the Republican groundlings. Obama looks so beatable, so exposed in the clearing. They can taste his vulnerability on their wolf chops, the savory possibility of making him a one-term wonder—Jimmy Carter redux. But Carter was defeated by the mountain majesty of Ronald Reagan, and although every Republican contender invokes Reagan as second only to God in the firmament, bronzing their videos with the lambent earth tones of Reaganesque morning light, none of the dude ranchers competing can quite fill his cowboy boots. Few are trying harder than Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, who attempts to dispel initial impressions of his Barney Fife beakiness and cardboard presence by pumping out ads of Aaron Copland splendor and muscular determination. Once again it’s morning in America, but this time with a bigger hangover (Obama fatigue), one that will take every ounce of lead in the pencil of leadership to undo. Directed by Lucas Baiano, who knows not shame, the “Courage to Stand” video promoting Pawlenty’s same-titled campaign biography sells the candidate as if he were the heartland hero of a Michael Bay-Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster, the man for the crucial moment. The eagle-soaring sweep across azure sky and city spires, the carefully chosen fruit salad of Norman Rockwell representative citizen-faces, the flash-card images of America’s noble struggle (Martin Luther King Jr. marching, Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima), the slowly building rallying-cry cadences of Pawlenty’s voice-over—as Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert raved, “The epic scale of this thing is incredible. It makes Pawlenty seem almost life-size.” Without production values to provide a dose of Viagra, the book itself is a routine ho-hummer replete with the requisite God-is-my-copilot testimonials, tales of jockstrap glory to establish he’s a regular guy (“Playing soccer never held a candle to the fun of lacing up the skates and putting a stick on the ice”), and humorous, self-deprecating anecdotes. On the morning that Pawlenty was passed over as McCain’s V.P. pick, he took the dog out for a walk and, bending to scoop her poop, thought, “Well, this is the only number two I’ll be picking up today.” After giving himself a good chuckle, “I tucked that slightly crass, self-directed joke into my proverbial pocket, thinking it might be fun to share it at an appropriate moment during the Republican Convention the following week.” Such evaluations are subjective, difficult to adjudicate, but I think it possible that Pawlenty, or T-Paw, as his imaginary followers call him, may be a bigger crock than Mitt Romney.

Pawlenty isn’t the only American dreamer with an annoying nickname. Make room for “the Hermanator,” the radio host, motivational speaker, and Horatio Alger success story (the former president and C.E.O. of Godfather’s Pizza) Herman Cain. Rather than toss the I Ching to make decisions, he espouses “commonsense solutions” to the nation’s endemic problems; he would run the federal government like a proper business, using his C.E.O. mental powers. And what would he “hermanate” from the Oval Office? Government waste, that’s what. All that government waste lolling around on the divan watching Judge Judy, growing fat and lazy off the tax dollars taken from Americans working hard to put food on their family, to quote the Republican president who Republicans now pretend never happened, George W. Bush. Pawlenty told the Conservative Political Action Conference last year that the Republican Party should steal a page out of Mrs. Tiger Woods’s playbook “and take a nine-iron and smash the window out of big government.” Cain’s deficit-reduction remedy is more radically invasive. Smashing the window with a golf club isn’t going to get the job done—it’s time to put big government on the operating table. Interviewed on Fox News by Juan Williams, Cain said, “Look, Juan, you know I had cancer surgery. They took out part of my colon and part of my liver. That’s serious surgery. You’re not going to get that kind of surgery in Washington, D.C., until you have a president who’s willing to do what I call horizontal cuts and vertical cuts.” I intend no frivolity at the expense of a cancer survivor, but “Elect Herman Cain—He’ll Remove Part of America’s Colon” doesn’t strike me as the elevating vision that voters are craving. He might want to tinker with that. But then again, the target audience for Cain’s message likes it gruff. Tell it to me straight, Doc, I can take it! “The people posting about Cain on Facebook and Twitter are the activists I look to for the pulse of the Tea Party,” a top aide to a Republican governor told senior editor Joshua Green of The Atlantic. And the Hermanator won the first Tea Party straw poll of the primary campaign, held in Phoenix, Arizona, beating out T-Paw. Cain then created a rustle this March by declaring that he would not consider appointing a Muslim to his Cabinet or to a judgeship, demonstrating that a black Republican role model can practice blatant discrimination with the same sure hand of any white bigot. Under criticism, Cain softened his stance somewhat, but anti-Muslim bias shouldn’t harm him with the substratum of the conservative base, for whom the courage to stand doesn’t play nearly as well as the willingness to stoop.

Cain has the love, but he may not be able to raise money. Romney could raise money from the dead but can’t seem to capture the love, no matter how forcefully he tries to press Tea Partyers into his strong arms and tell them what they want to hear. Mormon lips, however, will never mash theirs, and there are those who suspect he’s a closet moderate—a “squish,” in right-wing blogger parlance—who would make deals with the devil Democrats. Persistent nuisance Newt Gingrich and dirigible tycoon Donald Trump have been flirting with running, acting as if they’re doing us a favor by bellying up to the beauty pageant, but their puffy egos are a prophylactic. They don’t fluff the love of the crowd, because no one could possibly love them more than they love themselves, and without the need to get love, how does one give love? This is a question that haunts many a Barry Manilow song. Mike Huckabee, he’s earned the teddy-bear love of the Evangelicals because he’s a big-assed Christian load himself; his religious convictions seem almost corporealized, the result of prayer and heavy carbs, making him far more relatable than the trim business suits at the podium. When Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana and a possible candidate, proposed that the next president call a truce on social issues to concentrate on the dire economic conditions, it was his fellow Republicans who blew raspberries. It’s cultural war they’re waging, and wusses need not apply. The religious right doesn’t want a truce with those who disagree on abortion and gay marriage; they want total trashing victory. That’s why they très adore Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who excited an Iowa audience as much as an Iowa audience can get excited when she proclaimed, “We’ve been told that we need a truce on social issues. I highly disagree with that. Social conservatism is fiscal conservatism.” Rhetorically, it doesn’t sound like much, but The New York Times records that her statement was met with “booming applause,” a testament perhaps to Bachmann’s starry photon presence. Brunette, brain-drained of doubt and subtle, crucial distinctions, her eyes gleaming like reflective decals in the driving dark, with talking points popping straight out of the gumball machine and an airy grasp of the facts that strays into free association (“Bachmann Moron Overdrive,” her robotic garbling has been called, something arena-rock fans can appreciate), Bachmann is the complete 2012 lunar package. If Palin doesn’t run for the presidency, Bachmann’s the closest replicant. And, as with Palin, the fact that Bachmann is mocked as a bimbo by snide meanies such as Bill Maher, the host of HBO’s "Real Time," only binds her to the base. They feel unfairly made fun of, too. To Tea Partyers and rabid radio-talk-show revolutionaries, it’s a plus that she makes liberal heads explode in horror. Because that’s what makes them truly happy. Hating on liberals is the greatest love of all. Ω

[James Wolcott joined Vanity Fair as a contributing editor in 1983, left in 1992 to be a staff writer at The New Yorker, and returned in 1997. He writes a monthly column covering the media, politics, and pop culture. In 2003, he received a National Magazine Award for Reviews and Criticism. Wolcott began his career in the circulation department of The Village Voice in 1972 and became a regular contributor two years later, writing some of the earliest articles about the punk scene. Wolcott has written numerous reviews for such publications as The New Republic, The New Criterion, and The Nation. He is also the author of The Catsitters (2001), a novel, as well as Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants (2004). Wolcott attended Maryland's Frostburg State College for two years. From there, he moved to New York City to work at The Village Voice.]

Copyright © 2010 Vanity Fair — Condé Nast Digital

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