THE BLOG
11/27/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The GOP's "Nah Nah Nah Can't Hear You!" Argument

The conservative movement meltdown is going into overdrive, if Peter Wehner's op-ed in the Washington Post today is any indication. With most Republican candidates explicitly running on a platform promising a revival of Reagan conservatism and berating the supposed "socialism" of Democrats, this former Bush hack writes that "it is a mistake to assume that significant GOP losses, should they occur, are a referendum on conservatism."

It's hard to overstate how absurd this is. Let me repeat: In the stretch run of this campaign, the Republican Party has decided to make this an ideological contest between Reagan conservatism and supposed wild-eyed liberalism/socialism - and now, sensing a potentially huge loss, conservatives are arguing that despite their decision to make this an ideological contest, "an Obama victory would be a partisan, rather than an ideological, win."

Obviously, the Right understands what's really going on in America - and is working to reinterpret that reality.

Having doubled-down on Reaganism, they know that a loss under these circumstances would be not just a momentary electoral set back, but a huge repudiation of conservative ideology, and a huge mandate for progressivism. And so conservatives are already trying to revise history to pretend these last few months of the campaign never happened.

Of course, the very weakness of the "facts" they cite exposes their desperation. For example, Wehner cites public opinion data showing that the word "conservative" remains more popular than the word "liberal." Yet, he omits the fact that when you go beyond the semantics, the same public opinion data he cites shows that Americans are very progressive on most major economic issues.

But substance is secondary to spin on the Right - and likely in the media. As Digby notes, we're already seeing the media Villagers insisting the same thing Wehner is insisting: Namely, that no matter how well conservatives have framed this election as a choice between conservatism and progressivism, and no matter how big a progressive victory that election may bring, America nonetheless remains to the right of Ronald Reagan. In effect, the Right is making the "nah nah nah can't hear you!" argument, claiming that that no matter what America says about its own politics and ideology, the country is an ultra-conservative bastion.

It's a willfully dishonest argument - but one with a motive: To preserve the status quo.