Late Night: A Certain Personality
Whenever you listen to a Republican politician, be it, say, Eric Cantor, Joe Walsh, or Chris Christie, it’s natural to wonder how, in Heaven’s name, they manage to reproduce; could anyone, even their mothers, love them? The sneering insults, serial fabrications, loathsome arrogance, pig-headed stupidity, and utter lack of empathy or self-awareness would be stunning and repellent to behold individually, yet most of them are mountainous, steaming piles of all these traits, put together. In fact, those who fail to embody every possible obnoxious personality defect under the sun, and then some, are doomed to be dismissed by their base as closet liberals. Or worse.
There’s a reason for this, and it goes deeper than the fact that right-wing media and the politics it endorses are based almost entirely on hating others, rather than simply disagreeing with them. It isn’t enough to be a selfish, punishing, sociopathic hypocrite lacking a scintilla of human decency; credibility with this crowd means flaunting such qualities, from reveille to lights out, every day. If you’re not a complete and total asshole, you must be a RINO or something.
This phenomenon first dawned on me during the 2000 election, when Republican candidate George W. Bush was proven, repeatedly, to be an ignorant buffoon, self-entitled ne’er-do-well, pathological liar, unrepentant bully, and domineering God-botherer, yet millions of Americans claimed they wanted to “have a beer” with him. Really? I’d hate to see their real-life drinking buddies.
Today on Thom Hartmann’s radio show, right-wing trolls were unusually abundant, and as I listened I was thus treated to a veritable smorgasbord of righty odiousness: otherwise tired recitations of shopworn talking points were delivered so loudly, uncivilly and with such misguided triumphalism (and no shortage of transparent lying) that the whole spectacle became oddly fascinating.
Each caller had a central lie they were determined (and perhaps paid by a Republican Super PAC) to put out there, be it that health care reform would result in Death Panels, a “successful businessman” would naturally be a better President than a (darky) “Community Organizer,” or that since they themselves had to show ID to (insert irrelevant commercial transaction here), so why shouldn’t “they” have to show ID to vote, but none were content to leave it at that.
Most started with an introductory lie such as “I’m a lifelong Democrat,” or “I’m a small business owner” before aggressively launching into their obviously prepared scripts, which was annoying enough, but then each one proceeded to shout down, filibuster, and generally make asses of themselves, thinking that that made them sound victorious over the unfailingly polite and rational Hartmann.
Of course, none of the barking and repetitive callers were talking about the actual topic being discussed and all of them were utterly immune to facts or logic, so I could see why Thom continues to permit their otherwise completely disruptive presence on the program. Right-wing talkers, for obvious reasons, ruthlessly screen their callers for any evidence of heresy, rendering their shows a boring, predictable love-fest entirely devoid of conflict, and thereby avoiding unwanted intrusions of inconvenient facts. Righties assume, incorrectly, that liberals talkers do the same thing, so they lie and yell, and display themselves to be pretty much what we all knew they were in the first place.
One guy, who claimed to be from Illinois (which means he was undoubtedly from somewhere else), summed up the righty mindset quite succinctly when he confidently asserted that the country ought to be split, Confederate-like, on ideological lines, so liberals, stuck in benighted hellholes like California or New York, would soon be begging to emigrate to utopias like, say, Mississippi or Texas.
After listening to his ilk all day, I was sorely tempted to take him up on it.