Limbaugh Meltdown

I’m getting an odd sense of satisfaction listening to a bit of Rush Limbaugh leading up to what appears to be the conservative Waterloo. He’s going batshit on his own party.

Now, I wish to ask all of you influential pseudointellectual conservative media types who have also abandoned McCain and want to go vote for Obama (and you know who you are without my having to mention your name) what happened to your precious theory?  What the hell happened to your theory that only John McCain could enlarge this party, that we had to get moderates and independents?  How the hell is it that moderate Republicans are fleeing their own party and we are not attracting other moderates and independents? How in the hell did you people figure this to happen?  So the Republican Party’s own strategy here not only has it backfired, it’s embarrassing.  I don’t have any brief for William Weld, don’t misunderstand, but he’s a moderate Republican.  

“The Republican Party, we gotta be a big tent,” and that’s code words for, “We gotta have some pro-choicers in our party to get rid of the influence of these hayseed hicks in the South who are pro-life.”  Well, they have gone, and I, for one, say, “Damn well good riddance!”  Weld, why don’t you stay a Democrat?  McClellan, stay a Democrat.  All you intellectual conservative media types, go ahead and stay a Democrat once you move over.  By the way, we know what this is about.  This is about being invited to state dinners in a Barack Obama administration.

Listening to Rush on November 5 is going to be a joy.

This entry was posted in Barack Obama, Business, Journalism, Politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Limbaugh Meltdown

  1. commonsguy says:

    “What the hell happened to your theory that only John McCain could enlarge this party, that we had to get moderates and independents?”

    Simple. Not only is Sen. McCain not the John McCain of the 2000 campaign, but he’s not even the John McCain of the 2008 primaries, when that “theory” was most likely espoused.

    It’s fairly obvious from the polling that Americans want a departure from the policies and practices of the current administration. And, rightly or wrongly, I think that in the eyes of John and Jane Q. Public, social conservatism is considered to be part of the Republican faction that empowered the current administration to do what it did.

    So, in the Republican primaries, given the Big 4 choices of Mr. Guiliani (“9/11 Uber Alles”), Mr. Romney (a snore-fest), Gov. Huckabee (likable, but deep social conservative), and Sen. McCain, people chose McCain. He seemed the least crazy and the least tagged with the “social conservative” label.

    But then the Limbaugh faction whined and whined when Sen. McCain sealed the nomination.

    At this point, Sen. McCain had two choices:

    1. Ignore the Limbaugh faction, assuming that most of them would still vote for him anyway (lacking viable alternatives and with fear of a Democratic victory pushing them to the polls), and focus instead on moderate independents.

    2. Placate the Limbaugh faction by veering sharply right and engaging in gutter politics, and hoping the independents would flock to his banner anyway, perhaps due to a screwup by Sen. Obama or his campaign.

    He choose door #2. In retrospect, he should’ve chosen door #1.

    I suspect that Sen. McCain would still lose, even if he had stayed more moderate. What Mr. Limbaugh and his pals did was give Sen. Obama a solid shot at a landslide ( has it at 48% odds right now) and the accompanying “mandate” that such a victory offers.

    It’s almost as if Mr. Limbaugh were a closet Democrat.

  2. billybob says:

    Game over Rush. It’s clobbering time.

    Looks like he’s in stage 1/2 of Kubler-Ross’s 5 stages of grief & tragedy (Reference below from Wikipedia):

    1. Denial: Example – “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening.”‘Not to me!”

    2. Anger: Example – “Why me? It’s not fair!” “NO! NO! How can you accept this!”

    3. Bargaining: Example – “Just let me live to see my children graduate.”; “I’ll do anything, can’t you stretch it out? A few more years.”

    4. Depression: Example – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die . . . What’s the point?”

    5. Acceptance: Example – “It’s going to be OK.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

    Rush is but a mere pimple-pattern on the rump of the fractal. What a silly little cheerleader.

  3. Jason says:

    The Democratic Party is on its knees praying that Republicans listen to Rush and wholeheartedly adopt his viewpoint. It will marginalize the party and wound it for years.

    If intellectuals stick with the Republican party and steer it back on course, it will be bad for Democrats but good for the country. I prefer if the Republican party becomes more intellectual and moderate, but I won’t cry if they shoot themselves in the foot.

  4. JT says:

    His ratings will probably soar with a Democratic victory. Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer first and foremost and if he hasn’t the ratings, he doesn’t have a show. Obama will give him new life.

  5. Dan says:

    Thank you, Jon. Thank you. Reading that was schadenfreude in its highest, its purest form.

    Limbaugh is rather the nexus of the kinds of things I’ve talked about here over the past few months: The anti-thinking, anti-learning, anti-reading, anti-curiosity mindset of the Resident-in-Chief and his base. They worship Limbaugh like a god. They think he’s a genius. They claim he has an IQ of 200. They claim that he reads (depending on which of them you talk to) 10, or 100, or 1000 books a day, and retains every single word he reads flawlessly. In him, and in him alone, they adore this entirely imagined and fictitious intellect and appetite for reading and knowledge.

    Yet anyone who makes even modest efforts to learn about the world can listen to Limbaugh and realize that he is a mental pimple, fed a few factoids by his staff, but he himself is a man who spends his time in his broadcasting booth, running his show and watching his ratings. His rhetoric is crass, insulting, mean-spirited and shallow.

    That’s the paradox: The base revile intellect as the worst thing they can imagine, yet worship him as the God of Intellect. And he has all the intellect of a pair of socks.

  6. Alex Bowles says:

    If you read the rest of Rush’s rant, the issue boils down to ‘real’ Republican’s being pro-life, end of story. He is basically saying that this is the one and only test of ‘true’ conservatism, and that anyone who doesn’t subscribe to this view (a) has dubious motives and (b) needs to ‘get the hell out of the tent’ (so much for Christian humility).

    I honestly don’t know how the GOP managed to back itself into such an awkward and self-destructive position. I suppose the only way out is for actual evangelicals to say “we believe life starts at conception, and not only will we conduct ourselves accordingly, we’ll dedicate ourselves to improving the social landscape – making life easier and more hospitable for people who share our point of view and choose to act accordingly.

    “At the same time, we’ll openly admit that our view is based on our religion, and acknowledge that other religions (regardless of what we think of them) don’t make the same demands, to say nothing of the agnostics and aithests, who – we concede – are free to believe (or not) as they choose. In short we will finally do what we have never done – declare out heartfelt respect the freedom of conscience, and the portions of the Constitution that protect it.

    “That doesn’t mean we abandon our evangelical mission, or our drive to influence society as a whole. It simply means that we stop trying to force our will upon the unwilling, which is really like pushing string. Instead, we’ll go out of our way to build the kind of society where unplanned pregancies do not mean massive, and often unmanageabe burdens that create situations damaging to mother and child alike.

    “And we’ll go one step further, and admit that the reason we haven’t done this before is because our real focus for all these years hasn’t really been about ‘protecting the unborn’. We’ll finally admit that what we’ve been conducting is an unremitting – and un-American – assult on the freedom of conscience itself, and that, frankly, we’ve had little tolerance for tolerance”.

    With this declaration out of the way, the evangelicals could actually lead by example, and start operating with a measure of true integrity, open honesty, real compassion, and clear respect for the law, as they embrace the kinds of social policies that reshape a society that is currently rather hostile to poor mothers.

    Of course, this would be totally at odds with the ‘fuck you, get out of my way, it’s every man for himself, and the envoronment is a liberal fairy tale’ view that’s the other half of the Rushbo view, in all it’s cigar chomping, bomb dropping, pill popping glory.

    Actually, I may just have answered my question. The evangelical wing has the votes. The Ayn Rand wing has the money. Neither can get far without the other. But instead of inventing a new (and, dare I say, moderate) positon that resolved the obvious tension between these two outlooks (while demanding that each evolve to fit), the GOP has allowed itself to become dominated by people like Rush who create an unholy alliance by simply mashing the two views together, resulting in a position that is totally incoherent, not to mention unsustainable. This Big Lie has become the party line, and now it’s falling to pieces. Guys like Hannity, Kristol, and Rush who have built their careers around the cultivation and promotion of this lie are running out of rope.

    But what will really sweep them from the stage is a revolutionary shift in evengelical America, and an embrace of the same legally protected freedom of conscience that allowed them to grow their religion so rapidly in the first place.

    If the ‘base’ moves towards the center, joining the intellectually honest members of the Republican party, then ‘folks’ like Rush will find that they, are the ones being consigned to the wilderness.

    But for now, it’s the profound dishonesty of the evangelicals that prevents this from happening. The lack of integrity and humility demanded by the untrammeled zealotry of their theocratic agenda is what allows mash-up artists like Rush to become leading lights of party thought in the first place. The own fraudulence makes its way to the other side of the coin, enabling the contradictions within the Neocon / Ayn Rand wing to go unchecked. Of course, people on this side of the coin are completely lawless, so it’s no good looking to them for leadership. No, the challenge for the GOP is within the evangelical community.

    And it’s not as though it’s too late to make this kind of change, or that doing so won’t lead to real influence. After all, the political left remains profoundly corrupt. People like Pelosi are walking, talking lumps of Ken Lay-grade toxic trash. They’re focused entirely on partisan advantage, and have subordinated themselves to the interests of a handful of special interests that have all, in turn, devolved to a point of pure self-interest that runs absolutely counter to the national interest and the greater good.

    Obama is going to have a hell of a time keeping these people from derailing any truly progressive moves he’d like to make. After all, Colin Powell is the only person with any stature to stand up and declare that the Republican’s denigration of Muslims is flat out wrong, un-American, and deeply shameful. And he’s right, but we shouldn’t forget that the strategy of (a) making ‘muslim’ a slur word and (b) pinning it on Obama was first employed not by the Republicans, but by Hillary Clinton.

    And much to their discredit, no one in the senior ranks of the Democratic party ever stood up and called her out for being a corrupt and race-baiting disgrace with no business anywhere near the Oval Office – or even the Senate. (I suppose loosing the primary in a hail of sniper fire was considered repudiation enough).

    If there’s a true moral center in American life, it currently rests with the moderate right, and people like Powell (compromised as he may be) David Brooks, and Christopher Buckley. It has been reinforced by their principled stand against their own party, and their willingness to change for the sake of the times. If they can help the evangelicals come to terms with their own internal contradictions, and abandon their neocon bedfellows in favor of the compassionate conservatism that Bush promised but never delivered, a revitalized Republican party may be able to find its way back into power fairly swiftly – especially if Obama gets rolled by Reid and Pelosi, and they turn around a deliver the country to the government labor unions willing to hold entire populations hostage, the teacher’s unions that have made a fetish of mediocrity, the trial lawyers who have made access to the courts a privilidge of the rich, and the old-school civil rights crowd led by people like Sharpton and Jackson Sr., who insist on chronic gerrymandering to protect a handful of seats in Congress.

    And these people aren’t Obama’s only challenge. He’s got to worry about himself as well. Any missteps on entitlement programs, health care, or tax policy that invite financial armageddon, and further distortion of already darkened markets, and he could be the cause of his own undoing. Unfortunatly, self-inflicted failure could be even worse than mere sabotage from within his own party, and it could tip the balance of power back into the GOP’s favor without their having to go through any real soul searching, or serious evolution. If that were to happen, it could take another generation before anything really changed – assuming we could even last that long.

    Then again, if Obama can purge (or at least subdue) the nastiest and most corrupt members his own party first, and successfully define a comprehensive and viable set of principles for 21st century progressivism that continues to transcend differences between left and right without bankrupting future generations, he may be able to win over a realigned evangelical base. His Call to Renewal speech of 2006 suggests he has exactly the right outlook to do this, and success on this front, combined with responsible, effective, non-ideological approaches to health care, education and retirement could make him one of our greatest presidents ever.

    As Machiavelli so astutely pointed out, nothing is more perilous that the establishment of a new order. At the same time, actually doing so produces a level of security that is absolutely unmatched.

    That’s more than change promised, that’s change delivered.

  7. Dan says:

    We need to go back to the word “fundamentalist.” I’m amazed that, yet agian, the right can change everybody’s language. Believing that dinosaurs walked the Earth with man, that Moses parted the Red Sea, that all species were created 6000 years ago, that a zygote is a human being, that evolution is a lie, and that God hates fags and foreigners, is fundamentalist, anti-thought, petty, small-minded and hateful.

    That’s not what evangelism is about. I’m tired of hearing the Republican Jesus types talk of themselves as evangelicals, as if their rancid set of beliefs define evangelism. It does not. “Evangelism” means “relating to the good news,” or relating to the gospels of the New Testament. I’m not a Christian, much less an evangelical one, but I’ve read the gospels, all of them, many times, and the spirit that they exude does not bear any resemblance whatsoever to the blatherings of anal warts like Rush Limbaugh.

    Their rancid set of beliefs are an example of hardcore fundamentalism. Not evangelism.

    The right has changed the meaning of the word “liberal” to “God-hating, America-hating, Marxist/thug/murderer, gay-sex-in-every-bedroom evil”. Now, I’ve noticed over the past few years, they’ve shied away from the word “fundamentalist” because it sounds a little too much like “Taliban.” (With damn good reason.)

    It’s time to start using the word “fundamentalist” whenever referring to Republican Jesus supporters.

  8. Jon Taplin says:

    Alex-Your post is quite remarkable. I’ve been pondering some of these same themes in preparation for a book I want to write.

    Three things jump out at me. 1) There is a wing of the evangelical movement that is already moving in the direction you suggest–pushing a global warming and poverty agenda way more than the traditional anti-abortion agenda.
    2) Obama owes nothing to Pelosi, Reed or Clinton. He took on the Party Establishment with a bottom-up grass roots campaign. He had his own funding base and his own organizing team which will benefit every congressman and Senator come Nov. 4. When he won, he moved the DNC to Chicago to remove it from the Washington / K Street poison. If things work out on Nov. 4 the way I think they will, the Congressional leadership will have to get his permission to go to the bathroom.
    3) There is a Niebuhrian (if that’s a word) aspect to the Rebuilding America agenda that can pull in the David Brooks and even the Rick Warren part of the center right into Obama’s coalition. Part of the transition to a “handmade”, learning to live a simple life that Rick Turner talks about, is a spiritual transition. It’s your daughter knowing that her happiness does not flow from that Juicy Couture outfit. It’s families eating a meal together. Remembering the old Shaker hymn can help.

    “Tis a gift to be simple”

  9. Dan says:

    I’m going to take out the part about believing that a zygote is a human being is small-minded, hateful, etc. I grant people the right to their own opinions on that kind of thing. I’m opposed to making all abortions illegal, without exception. But it’s a very mixed issue to me. At the very least, opposition to abortion is not the same thing as insisting that God pointed his finger, and *ZOT*! there was Man.

    The reason I put it in in the first place is that, as I’ve said before, the rightwing “Steal It All Now” platform uses abortion and gay marriage as their bludgeon to keep their base from thinking about what they’re doing behind the curtain.

    So maybe what I should say about abortion is that clinging to it and gay marriage, and closing your eyes to everything else…that’s small-minded.

  10. Dan says:

    One other comment, that is appropriate to several threads here lately. I’m reading William Shirer’s last volume of his memoirs, Return of a Native, in which he describes, among other things, being blacklisted during the McCarthy Red scare. He also wrote a long section describing the rise of television in America, and how he personally observed many people convert from well-read, eloquent, interesting people into slack zombies who sat in front of a glowing boob tube every evening, barely speaking a word even to their own family members. He could scarcely believe it when people invited him to their homes…and then switched on the TV and lapsed into silence.

    I know that xenophobic fundamentalism is hardly new in this country, but a citizenry that has gorged itself on sitcoms, reality shows and NASCAR is fertile ground for simple-minded, completely wrong ideas.

    Shirer also made some comments that he was relieved and happy in the 1970’s that the country seemed to have moved out of the paranoid, everyone-is-a-suspect, Communism-is-everywhere era of McCarthyism. Until the Reagan years. Then he felt profoundly naive.

    Imagine then what he would have thought of the last eight years.

  11. VeryBadMan says:

    (It’s always been about abortion. The whole thing. The hunting of Clinton was about abortion. With this hand. Meanwhile, a lot was going on behind the back.)

  12. I am a Christian…an evangelical one…and Dan’s right. Call a spade a spade and call a fundamentalist a fundamentalist. Non-thinking weenies giving the rest of us a bad name.

  13. Rick Turner says:

    Jon, when I call for a simpler life, it’s not because I don’t like nice things. I just happen to like nice things that last, are not this year’s fashion to be discarded next year, and are made of good materials. What I hate is the disposable, the planned obsolescent, the crap that breaks in a month, the junk that is destined for land fill before it even goes into the horrid blister-pack plastic display packaging. I like well made stuff, and sometimes that’s stuff that’s factory made to good design standards and sometimes it’s “hand-made”, whatever that means these days.

    We as a society have become so dependent upon this cycle of consumerism that our president actually thinks that our spending money on junk is “good for the economy.” It’s just churning the money, churning the crap, and making everybody think that they need to rack up that Visa bill to stay current.

    I grew up in a house with a lot of stuff, much of it old, antique, and beautiful/useful/functional. I liked the feeling of sitting at a table that generations of my family had also used well. I liked seeing the embroidered panel done in 1823 by an ancestor’s sister. Nothing was treated as anything but useful. If an antique glass broke, my mother would just say, “One less to wash.” Not out of disregard, mind you; she always tried to take care of things, but they didn’t own her. On the other hand, I still come across notes of provenance that she taped to the underside of drawers or to the back of paintings.

    So a simpler life can contain stuff…nice stuff…but I did learn in 1978 when my house burned down (well, actually they burn up…) that it’s all just stuff; it’s not me. And that was the spiritual side of learning one more lesson about possessions. But if you’re going to have stuff, you might as well choose carefully.

  14. Another Jon says:

    Actually…they burn out.
    As will Rush.

  15. Mason Dixon says:

    I am finding hope in all these thoughtful, intelligent posts. Alex, Dan, Rick, hell, all y’all, this is an inspiring thread.

  16. Seth says:


    The evangelical wing has the votes. The Ayn Rand wing has the money. Neither can get far without the other.

    An apt characterization of the God & Mammon coalition which has elected Republicans in recent years. Certain evangelicals are starting to notice the conflict (Matthew 6:24).

  17. Seth’s post reminded me: Here’s an excellent take on the same theme…from the beginning of this year…from USA Today. Imagine.

  18. Tom Wilmot says:

    Folks in general:

    Watching the analysis of what’s happening to the Republican Party and/or the Democratic Party raises a question for me – does it really matter?

    If Colin Powell is correct (in a grander context than “race”) that Barak Obama is a transitional figure, doesn’t it stand to reason that we as a nation have reached to point where we need to transcend political models as well?

    For myself, I have little to no use for assuming that the GOP will go here or the Democrats will go there – just as I couldn’t care what happens with Objectivists, Libertarians, Prohibitionists or the Green Party. Circumstances are moving the world past that point.

    My rationale for feeling that way is multifaceted.

    1) “Branding” Politics and ideologies are not commercial goods or marketed services. When I hear a commentator talking about a given party attempting to re-brand itself, alarms go off in my head. It’s like saying “New Improved Christianity!! NOW with 60% MORE Sanctimony!” – it doesn’t wash and it shouldn’t. If you truly believe in a core ideology, you cannot alter that root belief in order to become more attractive to the consumer. Altering it makes it something else and as such, under the ethics of fair advertising, you ought to call yourself something else. Additionally, from the consumer side, just because Kraft makes a cheese you like does not mean you will have an enjoyable dinner at Olive Garden, even though they both carry the same “branding”. Just so in Politics. I like fiscal conservancy but I also like a society that offers equal opportunity to people without regard to whom they choose to fall in love with. “Compassionate conservative” doesn’t cover it, folks.

    2) Partisanship and Cronyism. This really is the bane of political parties. Assuming a majority in a legislative body doesn’t mean that that party will always have the right answer, nor does it assume that that party will always make good choices within its’ own body. Traditionally, parties do not oversee themselves well and as a result, unseemly things go on in the background. When I was a kid, Denver was run by the MacNichols machine. His appointments were BLATANT, but since Denver was hard-wired into the Democratic machine, no one really did anything other than chuckle about how obvious it was. Fortunately, a lot of his friends actually did good work. Later on, when Pena was mayor, the same issue came up – unfortunately, HIS friends did really lousy work. Then cronyism became an issue due to the infrastructure suffering. No one really took the time to say, “Cronyism ALWAYS matters”.

    3) Limiting Your Resource Pool. In development, manufacturing and research, some of the BEST ideas, products and solutions have come from very unexpected sources. IBM, during it’s salad days had an incentive program for ALL their employees to submit any idea they had, no matter what area of business it addressed and no matter WHAT their “title” or division might be. Development models such as LEAN/Six Sigma work along the same lines. There is a belief that a diversity of thought leads to better outcomes. Assumptions that “Democrats are THIS” and “Republicans are THIS” bottleneck the development process and limit the resource pool. When did ideology ever build a better car? When was the last time “fundamental belief systems” ever increase a crop yield? If you need brain surgery, do you REALLY care how your surgeon voted in the last election? If so, I would suggest you need much more than brain surgery. Assumptions that there are “correct and incorrect” ways to approach problems have plagued us throughout our history – I would suggest that it’s time to move past restrictive thinking. One of the best ways to start is to throw out the goddamned labels.

    Jon Taplin has been advocating”New Federalism” – and to a large extent, I agree with him. The top-down model has failed us, removed the citizen’s sense of personal responsibility and allowed Washington to create a gulf between itself and the people its’ supposed to serve.

    It IS time we serve ourselves. Municipal to state to federal. If we chose to go that route however, being hamstrung by party affiliations rather than finding points of consensus we can build upon will doom the bottom-up construct to failure.

    I would like to see this as the point of discussion, both pro and con, rather than the same old “which party is right” blabfest.

    Thanks for bothering to read this,

  19. Gage says:

    Do republican party loyalists not know that it is the administration of the past eight years that has divided their party? And, if so, why would any of them continue to patronize limbaugh? He led the media charge for bush.

  20. VeryBadMan says:

    Amber Killer piece from USA Today. Thank you for that.

    Tom Wilmot Hell of a good post.

  21. Gage says:

    P.S. — Is there any sort of national plan for a celebration when bush leaves office in January? I think there should be.

  22. Mason Dixon says:

    Read what David Frum says about the Fairness Doctrine.
    It will be very difficult for Republicans to change their stripes, as much as I wish it was truly possible.
    Remember, these guys have been sore winners.
    From their mouths, “Country First” is a hollow slogan.

  23. Gage, I don’t know about nationally, but here’s what one of my favorite local bloggers has to say about that (he’s talking about the Obama rally held last night in Albuquerque):

    >>P.S.: Hope to see some of you there (even me, anti-social dude, has about 457 different friends/acquaintances I’m scheduled to run into). Let’s treat it as the first in a series of ecstatically happy Bush Administration, New Orleans Jazz Funeral shindigs. I’ll bring the big bass drum, you bring an umbrella.<<

  24. Alex Bowles says:

    Wonderful citation, Amber. This seems like the key section to me, and illustrates Seth’s point as well.

    The fundamental task of a religious organization is to serve God, not win in secular politics. Once this distinction is lost, the identity of the religious organization is compromised beyond repair. This is bad not just for the integrity of that religious group, but also for society, which if it is to flourish needs a variety of social institutions performing a variety of functions — not every social institution morphing into a political organization.

    I’ve always felt that the legal separation of church and state was really for the good of both institutions, and evidence of the Founding Father’s remarkable insight. The last eight years have, by default, demonstrated this wisdom of this in spades. I know that there’s been a long running criticism of the Bush Administration’s failure to develop an independent policy apparatus. Instead, every decision was run through the political office, which, in turn, placed all its bets with the fundamentalists. You ended up with a President who declared a trillion dollar war ‘because God told me to’. And then he got re-elected. The churches that made this ‘victory’ possible have a lot to answer for.

    And Jon – really glad to hear you’re investing in this topic. You seem to be consistently a step or three ahead of the curve, which makes me think that this is going to become a topic of very open debate in the wake of the Bush admin. If you haven’t already come across it, check out Revolution in Jesusland, a blog that bills itself as “a guided tour for secular progressives to America’s fourth Great Awakening”.

    It makes two very powerful points.

    First, progressives will never achieve their goals as long as they are hostile toward and ignorant about the faith of 100 million of their own people who are born again Christians.

    Second (and we know how difficult this is to believe) there is an incredibly large and beautiful social movement exploding among evangelicals right now that stands for nearly all of the same causes and goals that secular progressives do. Those goals include: eliminating poverty, saving the environment, promoting justice and equality along racial, gender and class lines and for immigrants—and even separation of church and state.

    And Dan – right on. Language really does matter, and there is a profound difference between the agenda shared by evangelicals and secular progressives, and the impulses that drive fundamentalists – not only the Christian variety, but the Islamic and Jewish kinds as well (oddly, there don’t seem to be many militant Buddhists).

    Fundamentalism of all stripes shares the same basic concern – absolute opposition to the freedom of consciousness. And it is universally bad, in that it cannot be sustained without some very creative interpretations of the texts it cites as the source of its basic authority. Dealing with this disconnect is handled by creating a class of clerics that, by some divine and mysterious right, are given a free hand to interpret scripture – and the legal authority to impose this interpretation on the rest of society using the police and the courts.

    It is the quintessential example of rule by man replacing rule of law. When allowed to flourish, it produces some of the most degrading, squalid, fearful conditions known to man. It also becomes indistinguishable from tyrannies that replace religion with ideology (often violently) and quickly proceed to the exact same end – cults of personality that answer to no one.

    The American strain of fundamentalism has gotten a free ride by billing itself as ‘evangelicalism’. Aside from being wildly deceptive, it has given a very bad name to the 100 million or so evangelicals who don’t oppose the freedom of consciousness, and dislike the reduction of Christianity to a handful of issues that all share the same basic interest – the use of governmental force to suppress the freedom of consciousness.

    So yes, clear-eyed secular progressives who have considered ‘evangelicals’ with an instinctive – and well founded – sense of moral recoil need to pay much closer attention. Is the problem really with evangelicalism? Or is it the fundamentalists, and their unremitting assault on individual human dignity, freedom of thought, and rule of law that’s the real cause for concern?

    In truth, secular progressives and Christian evangelicals are natural allies. Fundamentalists – by billing themselves as on group, have been able to keep the other at bay. Having successfully driven in this wedge, they’ve proceeded to advance their own spectacularly un-American agenda, and have done so to devastating effect.

    That’s one more thing that needs to Change.

  25. Alex Bowles says:


    If you need brain surgery, do you REALLY care how your surgeon voted in the last election?

    That’s priceless.

  26. rhbee1 says:

    I have to second, third or fourth whatever, the vote that this is a totally awesome thread today. Do you think this might be what Obama is warning about when he says don’t get COCKY?

  27. KC says:

    Great post by Tom Wilmot. I’ve been thinking along the same lines for a while.

    The one thing I might offer to the discussion is the example of the computer industry. Back in the 90’s, many despaired at the dominance of Microsoft and eventually many came to the conclusion that the alternative must be a Linux desktop. Instead, the alternative came from out of the cloud, specifically, Google and Amazon and similar cloud-computing competitors. I think something similar will happen to red/blue American politics. I don’t know what that alternative might be . . . I’m not wired in enough to politics to see the architecture of the future. It feels like a big change is coming, and Colin Powell is right: Obama is a transitional figure towards that change.

  28. Jon Taplin says:

    Amazing posts from everyone. Tom Wilmot, we need hear more from you.

    Amber’s link and MD’s link are connected in that we are seeing a profound change in the political landscape where the old scare tactic/willie Horton Republican message was used by McCain and totally rejected by the vast middle of America–Church going folks who believe the our stewardship of the planet has been sorely lacking and that Poverty is a more important issue than abortion.

    The importance of Limbaugh’s rant is that he’s going to be like Tokyo Rose taunting America’s leaders from the foreign country of the mind run by the Palinistas. It will be like those old Arkansas Crackers I met in 1969. “The South shall rise again”. It’s disconnected from reality, but that hasn’t stopped Rush in the past.

  29. Alex Bowles says:


    I neglected to mention how much hope I place in you assessment of what Obama owes the Democratic establishment. That is to say, very little indeed.

    I know that everybody has been focused on the cratering of the GOP, how 30 years of bad ideology has finally come to a spectacular, if terrifying end. But the untold story is how a very similar thing seems to have taken place on the Democratic side as well. After all, it’s been the left’s conspicuous lack of any coherent opposition that allowed the right to run so far off the rails in the first place.

    In the two years since the Dems assumed power in Congress, that branch of the government is posted its lowest approval ratings ever. George Bush looks like Bruce Springsteen next to these guys. And Obama has seized that moment to stage his own revolution there – assuming control of the party’s image and agenda with little input from his colleagues, and giving up very little in return.

    His votes and money both come directly from the people – not the traditional power brokers and kingmakers.

    Combined with the chaos on the right, this really does make him a transformative figure at at critical moment in history. The question is whether he is simply a bridge, or if he’s going to continue playing a major role on the other side.

    2012 – 2014 seems like the window in which the new order really emerges.

  30. Alex Bowles says:

    …and after that, the Palinistas will be locked out for good.

  31. AB, well said…again. Man I hope all of you guys are right on this one.

  32. Tom Wilmot says:


    Tom Wilmot, we need hear more from you.

    Thanks for the pat on the back. I don’t post much because, while I enjoy the topics you come up with and the responses some of the commenters have, most of my ideas aren’t really germaine to the topic at hand.

    I do believe the country is due for a re-tool/reboot, but that’s a large topic and usually doesn’t fit into most of these threads – at least, it doesn’t without making me look like an irrelevant boob.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Leave a Reply