Senator Obama on Tuesday said of the McBush Republicans, "It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant." After eight years trapped aboard this dark ride, finally hearing a Democratic presidential candidate publicly and forcefully refer to the Republicans as ignorant liars ought to be enough to coax even the most indecisive leaner into the Obama column.
But let's take the senator's remark even further. The McBush Republicans don't just take pride in their ignorance -- their entire electoral strategy depends on it.
This is obviously a risky strategy given the existence of things like "reason", "facts" and "truth" -- each readily available to anyone who's industrious enough to seek them out. Fortunately, though, for the McBush Republicans, there's an outside collaborator working in their favor: the barbecue media whose success also depends greatly upon both ignorance and disingenuousness (Olbermann and others excluded). Paraphrasing Woody Allen, ignorance and disingenuousness are, collectively, their various breads and various butters. So the Republicans have a convenient and sizeable zero-barrier of protective stupid surrounding their golf courses and mansions and trophy wives, shielding them from reality. Let's call it the Great Wall of Duh.
To wit: Paris Hilton and Toby Keith have occupied above-the-fold placement in our national political discourse this week.
Barbecue media players like TIME's Mark Halperin are somehow taken seriously even though he's on record having recommended to Senator McCain that he frame Senator Obama as a "Manchurian Candidate" (read that: Islamic terrorist), while also recommending that Senator McCain allow his surrogates to engage in race-baiting. Very serious!
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal told us this week that Senator Obama's thin physique might make him unelectable in a nation of fatties.
Professional television broadcasters from Dan Rather to Chris Matthews can't stop confusing Senator Obama with Osama Bin Laden; and that's only after they wonder out loud whether or not Senator Obama is capable of speaking "mumble talk" in a diner.
And then of course there are the four horsemen of lying ignoramuses: O'Reilly, Hannity, Doocy and Kilmeade. The entire success of FOX News Channel depends on its audience accepting everything at face value.
Suffice it to say, the awful bricks that form the Great Wall of Duh are practically too numerous to list.
It's no wonder that, with such an airtight cocoon, Senator McCain -- after repeatedly being debunked by numerous experts, and after personally conceding the argument -- can go around saying things like this today:
"[Senator Obama is] claiming putting air in your tires is the equivalent of new offshore drilling," McCain said. "That's not an energy plan, my friends -- that's a public service announcement."
Yes, it's a lie. Yes, it's ignorant. But most importantly, it's disingenuous -- deliberately ignorant with the intention to deceive. Not unlike FOX News Channel, Senator McCain is not just exploiting the ignorance of his supporters -- he's counting on it. He and his cynical strategists are counting on their own supporters to be unaware of the verifiable fact that if we maintain proper tire pressure, we would conserve more oil than would be attained with the McCain plan for offshore drilling. And he's counting on his supporters to blindly ditto this line -- a line that's specifically designed to be easily repeated for the sake of painting Senator Obama as weak and ineffectual. Ironic, isn't it.
The entire Bush administration, as well as the modern Republican movement before it, was built upon exploiting the naiveté and ignorance of its supporters. Start with the Southern Strategy during the Nixon years, fast forward to Reaganomics and do the list on down to "freedom fries" and "nobody anticipated the breach of the levees."
Four years ago, Karl Rove and the Republicans, protected by a patriotically narcoleptic corporate media, successfully painted Senator Kerry -- a decorated war hero -- as a gay coward who barely deserved a purple Band-Aid, much less the three Purple Hearts he earned in blood. Without this ignorant, disingenuous framing, Senator Kerry would have surely been running for reelection today. Without this strategy, there probably wouldn't have been the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And, by the way, CNN hosts like Glenn Beck wouldn't be on television -- without equal time given to a liberal talk show host -- comparing George W. Bush to Batman.
This week's episode of AMC's Mad Men reminded us that tobacco companies for years told us that cigarettes were healthy. Likewise, FOX News Channel tells us every damn day that their network is fair and balanced. Cheneybots tell us that torture yields solid intelligence. Senator McCain's entire campaign is predicated upon obfuscating the facts about everything from his support for President Bush to Senator Obama's patriotism and energy plan -- all the while painting Senator Obama (a product of a broken home and who just recently paid off his college loans) as an elitist despite Senator McCain's own wealth, heiress wife and celebrity status. And this ignorance strategy will continue to work as long as the barbecue media maintains its protective Great Wall of Duh.
So as Senator McCain continues to "surge ahead" in the polls with a huge 39 percent, we can count on him to work this ignorance strategy at every level. A month from now we can count on seeing tire-pressure gauges at the Republican convention. We can count on repeated remarks claiming that Senator Obama wants to "lose" in Iraq and, to that point, we can count on Senator McCain continuing to conflate leaving -- now, next year or many years from now -- with losing.
Here's to hoping that more Democrats will step up for a change and call Senator McCain on his disingenuousness, lying and ignorance with the same clarity and strength that we heard from Senator Obama this week.