Republican Fantasy Land: How Conservatives See Obama And Their Liberal Opponents

The last three posts were on the detachment of Republicans from reality. (Here, here, and here). In the first of these posts I noted how conservative assessments of the election showed how they were out of touch with reality–just as with most of what comes out of the right wing noise machine:

Conservative fantasy met reality on election night. Similarly we have seen conservative fantasy to justify war in Iraq, with some conservatives still believing Saddam was behind the 9/11 attack and had WMD. We see conservative fantasy economic theories, which do not work in the real world. We see conservative denial of science, including on evolution and climate change. Conservatives have their own alternative history, such as denying the fact that the Founding Fathers established the United States with a secular government characterized by separation of church and state, recognizing that this is essential to guarantee religious freedom.To prevent contamination from liberal (i.e. reality based) ideas, conservatives have their own descriptions of liberal beliefs, which are not held by any liberals in the actual world.

National Review demonstrates this with an article by  Charles C. W. Cooke which contains a description of Obama’s beliefs which are totally out of touch with reality:

A president of the United States just ran a reelection campaign based on the promise of government largess, exploitation of class division, the demonization of success, the glorification of identity politics, and the presumption that women are a helpless interest group; and he did so while steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the looming — potentially fatal — crisis that the country faces. And it worked.

Worse, as David Harsanyi has observed, “the president’s central case rests on the idea that individuals should view government as society’s moral center, the engine of prosperity and the arbiter of fairness.” This stunted and tawdry vision of American life was best summed up in his campaign’s contemptible Life of Julia cartoon, which portrayed the American Dream as being impossible without heavy cradle-to-grave government, and in which the civic society that Tocqueville correctly saw as the hallmark of the republic was wholly ignored — if not disdained outright. “Government is the only thing we all belong to,” declared a video at the opening of the Democratic National Convention. In another age, this contention would have been met with incredulity and confusion; in ours, it was cheered.

Any Obama voters see the man they voted for as being remotely like the faux-Obama described above?

It is rather ironic that he  cherry picks a rather trivial line from a video at the Democratic Convention while the entire Republican National Convention was themed around an attack of an alleged view held by Barack Obama which they made up selectively editing a statement to give it an entirely different meaning. That’s the way it goes. They lack the honesty to even discuss actual liberal values so they make up something totally bizarre, showing no relationship to actual liberal beliefs.

The full article by Cooke is similarly inane, such as with attacking health care reform with a total lack of understanding of the failures of our system which made reform so urgent, along with a total lack of understanding of the plan which passed. To conservatives, Obama has launched a government take-over of a successful system, even though this is neither a government take-over nor a system which could have survived much longer.

The failure of Republicans to respond to actual Democratic views reminds me of this comment from Bill Maher from August:

You know, Republicans have created this completely fictional president. His name is Barack X and he’s an Islamo-socialist revolutionary who’s coming for your guns, raising your taxes, slashing the military, apologizing to other countries, and taking his cues from Europe or worse yet, Saul Alinsky. And this is how politics has changed; you used to have to run against an actual candidate, but now you just recreate him inside the bubble and run against your new fictional candidate.

That’s how Bush won in 2004, by running against John Kerry, a French war criminal. And speaking of Bush, I know conservatives are saying oh Bill, come on Democrats did the same thing to him. No. Say what you will about the left’s hatred of Bush, at least we were hating on the real guy. We didn’t invent a boogeyman who tanked the economy, took us to war on false pretenses, and tortured prisoners. That was the actual guy.

But run down the list of complaints about fantasy Obama. He wants to raise your taxes, even though he’s lowered them. Confiscate your guns, even though he’s never mentioned it, and read terrorists their rights, yeah, like he did Tuesday in Somalia. And look what Gingrich said about him this month. (Video of Gingrich claiming Obama is against work). Yes, Obama is anti-work. You remember the bill he championed, The Grab A Corona And Call In Sick Act.

You see, the difference is the Republicans hatred of Obama is based on a paranoid feeling about what he might do. What’s he’s thinking. What he secretly wants to change. Anger with Bush was based on what he actually did. What Bush was thinking didn’t matter, because he wasn’t.

Just as Romney lost partly due to being out of touch with reality as it quoted the ideas of the right wing noise machine, future Republican candidates who read articles such as this will be at a severe disadvantage in failing to understand the actual ideas of those they run against.

Quote of the Day: Paul Krugman On Republican Anti-intellectualism

“The truth is that the modern GOP is deeply anti-intellectual, and has as its fundamental goal not just a rollback of the welfare state but a rollback of the Enlightenment.” –Paul Krugman, blogging on the topic I discussed here and here.

The Biggest Loser of 2012: Karl Rove

The failure of Super PACs such as Karl Rove’s  American Crossroads to accomplish anything with all the money they spent is leading to criticism from Republicans who fail to realize the problem is the message along with the messengers. Americans were not going to be fooled into blaming Obama for the recession caused by George Bush and failed Republican economic ideas. Nor will Americans accept the morally repulsive message from Republicans on social issues. Despite all the fears among Democrats that the money edge for Republicans would put them at a disadvantage, the Super PACs were a spectacular failure on the national level:

A study by the Sunlight Foundation found that just 1.29 percent of the nearly $104 million it spent in the general election ended with the desired result. In addition to spending $85 million to defeat Mr. Obama and $6.5 million to support Mitt Romney, the group spent millions more opposing Democratic Senate candidates Bill Nelson in Florida, Jon Tester in Montana, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, and Tim Kaine in Virginia – all of whom won. The only candidates it supported who won were Republicans Deb Fisher in Nebraska and Dean Heller in Nevada, who the group spent a combined $1.3 million to support.

The return for American Crossroads’ sister group, Crossroads GPS, was not much better. Crossroads GPS, which keeps its donors secret, saw a 14 percent return on the $70 million it spent. Another conservative outside group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, saw just a 6.9 percent return on its $33 million in spending. The National Rifle Association’s return on its nearly $12 million in spending: 0.81 percent.

While the Super PACs were a failure at the national level, Norm Ornstein did warn in an interview with Terry Gross that conservative groups are having success taking over state governments were their massive infusion of money is a bigger factor.

Years ago Richard Viguerie was the genius behind Republican strategy–using direct mail to bring in votes and donations. Of course that was a different era. More recently Karl Rove became the supposed genius behind Republican strategy, with his Super PAC American Crossroads, looking like a bigger player than the Republican party. Now Richard Viguerie is writing off both Karl Rove and the Republican leadership:

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner, NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions and other Republican leaders behind the epic election failure of 2012 should be replaced with leaders more in tune with the grassroots of the conservative base of the Party.

Likewise, in any logical universe, establishment Republican consultants such as Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, Romney campaign senior advisor Stewart Stevens and pollster Neil Newhouse would never be hired to run or consult on a national campaign again — and no one would give a dime to their ineffective Super PACs, such as American Crossroads.

This year Republicans did try to use more modern techniques than direct mail. Their attempt  at using computer technology was a total failure. A diary at Red State  cited unnamed Romney staffers who blamed Republican political consultants for this failure:

They say that the truth is the consultants essentially used the Romney campaign as a money making scheme, forcing employees to spin false data as truth in order to paint a rosy picture of a successful campaign as a form of job security.

Zac Moffatt, Digital Director for the Romney campaign, was specifically named as having “built a nest egg for himself and co-founder of Targeted Victory, Mike Beach,” and that they “didn’t get social” media and ignored objections from other consultants and staffers in the campaign.

In other words, the Romney consultants used the Romney campaign in essentially the same way many Republicans use government when they have a chance.