Republican Horror Show

An excerpt from The Daily Beast:

by John Batchelor

Conservative radio talk-show host John Batchelor says the whack jobs disrupting health-care town halls confirm the Republican Party has become a cruise ship to the seventh grade.

The sad-eyed Townhall Turfers now follow the saucer-eyed Birthers and the cranky Tea-Baggers as the latest political fad that the weakling Republicans not only cannot get away from but also cannot get enough of, like chocolate sauce on anything. The phenomenon of surly, verbose, sweaty voters crowding into overlit public rooms to hear out the numbing conclusions of a member of Congress on health-care reforms in all the 57 varieties has taken over talk radio and talk TV and swept through blogs like swine flu’s mutation. The suspicion of many gifted sleuths, working in favor of the Obama administration, that these are not grass roots citizens but rather hirelings and toadies, the astro-turf-eaters of Homo Pachydermata, stampeding to the whip hand of secret Blofelds of the GOP, has suddenly become a White House approved narrative endorsed by the colorful Robert Gibbs, who judged, “The Astro Turf nature of grassroots lobbying” are “manufactured anger.”

The Turfers are freakish, passionate, half-baked, dignified, defiant, rude, anarchistic, but they are not Republicans.

Would this were the whole story. Would that the Republicans were capable of such a vast right-wing conspiracy to rally and deploy growling scene-stealers with signage that is indifferent to paradox, “Stop Obama,” “Stop Socialism,” “Stop Fascism.” Those who have discovered these shadowy links of the nonsensically named “Conservatives for Patient Rights” to the infamous Swift Boaters’ latest awkward fantasy, “Tea Party Patriots Health Care Reform Committee,” serve less to enliven their suspicions than they do to prop up the spirits of the deracinated Republicans. Over the last week, the Democratic blogosphere has given more credit to a party that doesn’t much exist than it has enjoyed since Karl Rove left the field of battle with his Slytherin wand. Skipping its yoga class, the DNC has air-dropped a shrieking memo accusing the Republicans of Mordor of “inciting angry mobs of a small number of rabid right wing extremists funded by K Street lobbyists… interested in ‘breaking the president.’” Democrats are imagining a Republicanism that is ambulatory, omnipotent like the fabled days of the Brooks Brothers Brigade storming Dade County in the stolen election of 2000.

None of this feared Republican virility is any more real than the charge that the GOP manufactured the Turfers. That is the true misery of the matter. The Turfers are freakish, passionate, half-baked, dignified, defiant, rude, anarchistic, but they are not Republicans. They are not even much of a mob, and references to the classic American uprisings from Shays Rebellion to the Wide-Awake Brigades at the birth of Republicans over the Kansas-Nebraska Act are distorting and tendentious. Studying the videos from Texas, Wisconsin, New York, what you can see and hear is frustration, fear, voyeurism, a sugar-high yearning for local TV sound bites and YouTube burlesque. If this is all you ask for in a mob, what are circus clowns for?

And what does the Republican Party provide the generally despairing and alienated American citizens who come out to the town halls? It answers shouts for help with teasing and cooing, the behavior of groupies with the language of quitters. Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner wrapped his teenaged threat of rowdyism over health care inside a flimsy, clichéd metaphor of summer, “I think it’s safe to say that, over the August recess, as more Americans learn more about their plan, they’re likely to have a very, very hot summer.”


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