Still Pretending That Daddy Knows Best
As part of my
ponderous thoughtful series on the language of a Democratic realignment leading up to the November elections, I said that a lot of seemingly disparate Republican rhetoric was actually part of a consistent strategy to maintain the GOP's image as the "daddy party":
When Bill Clinton teed off on Chris Wallace of Fox News several days ago, right-wing commentators were very quick and consistent in labeling the Big Dog's anger as "crazy," "unhinged," and "out of control" — language that Howard Dean probably remembers quite well. And it's no accident. Although the standard Republican narrative about Democrats is that we're weak, ineffectual, and indecisive, they perform an effortless backflip whenever one of us shows passion, claiming that we're full of unchecked rage.
They don't care if that seems contradictory. The main point, of which I guarantee they're all aware, is that a Democrat must never be allowed to be depicted as strong and self-confident — in short, as the kind of person who can provide order and fill the "daddy" role in the symbolic national family. Conversely, the perverse cult of personality that conservatives have developed around the Shrub-in-Chief is designed to create just such an aura of paternal leadership.
I was reminded of this when I read Digby yesterday, summarizing a column in the right-wing National Review on anger in politics:
You see, this "New Anger" is a cultural phenomenon pretty much confined to the left. Indeed, it was invented on the left (during the 60's, naturally.) And left wing bloggers are especially angry. . .
This "New Anger" is compared to an old Gary Cooper style of anger which was constrained and mature — much like the right is today, at least by comparison to the crazed left which is under the influence of Jimmy Hendrix, Jack Nicholson and "Return of the Jedi."
Sounds like an attempt to codify the distinction I was talking about between who's a fit daddy and who isn't, doesn't it?
And then there's this from Think Progress yesterday, quoting White House spokesliar Tony Snow as he tries to keep Dubya-as-wise-Daddy myth afloat in the face of an impertinent question:
Q The only question, though, to press a little bit, is the view that the President has been determined, he’s been resolved, and nobody questions that, but does he get it? I mean, is he fundamentally out of touch with what the reality is on the ground in Iraq?
MR. SNOW: No, I think what happens is, we may be out of touch with reality because we sit around and we look at fractional pictures on the screen. This is a President who gets exhaustive briefings on a daily basis about the situation. He knows more than anybody in this room about what’s going on there.
I've written before about this Bushite pretense that the hell they've created in Iraq is just a TV show, but I haven't seen it tied in so explicitly with the complementary pose of the Shrubster as a wise, omniscient father figure.
The absurdity of such spin after all this time shows us what the antidotes are: facing reality, appropriate derision of those who would rather live in a fantasy… and, above all, communicating to the broader public that they — we — are fully equipped to judge reality and determine the best response to it, rather than waiting for some Wizard of Oz-like daddy to tell us what to believe. Fortunately, we have these blog-like thingamabobs to demonstrate the concept by bringing facts to the table and getting the word out.