Back when I was a youth individual who was not the right height to be in sport, I used to have conservative friends tell me that conservatives were better than liberals because liberals are always appealing to emotion and squishy feelings while conservatives are all about cold, hard logic. That was total nonsense 15 years ago–movement conservatism moved from fact to emotion half a century ago when it decided the best way to take and hold power was to appeal to white America’s racism and religious bigotry–but I wonder if any conservatives would even try to advance the argument now. The modern conservative gets drummed out of the club for accepting the science of climate change and/or evolution over religious pablum and voodoo capitalist wishing. The entire tax and economic platform of the Republican Party is built on an appeal to “morality,” in the bizarro Randian universe where “morality” equates to “I got mine fuck you.” We can’t touch defense spending because we’re terrified of everyone and everything, and you can’t feel pride in America if we’re not spending on military hardware as the next 20 nations combined. Gay rights, reproductive rights, contraception (WE’RE STILL ARGUING ABOUT CONTRACEPTION, FOR FUCK’S SAKE!); these debates are all had on Republican terms that are completely emotional, and of course only Republicans’ emotions are allowed to have any relevance.
I was put in mind of this by a couple of things that have come out of Romney’s campaign lately. First was Mitt’s typically creepy reaction to the Aurora shootings, which was like “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” except if you tried to make that point just after you’d eaten half a pan of pot brownies.
“Well, this person shouldn’t have had any kind of weapons and bombs and– and– and other devices. And– and it was illegal for him to have many of those things already…But he had them. And– and so we can– we can sometimes hope that just changing a law will make all bad things go away. It won’t. Changing the heart of the American people may well be what’s essential to improve the lots of the American people.”
As the great Charlie Pierce might say, this is all my balls, and that Mediaite piece is correct to note that if Obama had said something that stupid and borderline offensive, he’d have been getting reamed for it by right wing media all week. “Changing the heart of the American people”? Blow me, Mitt. The American people didn’t massacre a theater full of innocents; that was one crazy person with weapons he was able to buy legally, despite being crazy, and one of which had a magazine that could hold a hundred fucking bullets. This is because we have no gun control laws to speak of, because Republicans long ago decided that the Bill of Rights should be trimmed down to the Bill of Right, and also because our mental health system is a complete disgrace, because Republicans long ago decided that the only legitimate function of government was to facilitate the upward redistribution of wealth from middle and working class Americans to bankers and defense contractors. As for his position on the efficacy of lawmaking or governance (the thing he’s supposed to be running to do), I’m not sure if Mitt thinks we should eliminate all laws because, you know, bad things happen anyway, but that’s the logical endpoint of what he said. The result is a total lack of real ideas to help combat the problem of dangerous people getting guns and then using them, just a nakedly bullshit emotional appeal to change Americans’ hearts.
Second was Walking Bag of Puke John Sununu, on the Oh Really Factory, last night.
[Obama’s] you built — “you didn’t build it” moment I think is really resonating around the country. (not really) And I know he’s trying to walk away from it saying it’s out of context but when you look at the context the context is worse. (no, it’s not) And even worse than the context is the tone and the — and the really arrogant and insulting way he’s addressing people who have had success.
I want odds on how many more weeks John can go before the words “uppity n*****” slip out of his mouth. But here, again, it’s all about feelings; Obama was arrogant, he insulted business owners, the Democrats are being mean to bankers, blah blah blah. Screw the facts, screw proper context (which, oh by the way, the fact that Romney is running a purely emotional campaign and also running maybe the most dishonest campaign in history, these are not unrelated things), nothing matters but how I feel and how I can make you feel. It’s a lousy way to conduct your politics.