The Stepford Wives tells the chilling story of once smart, independent women who get abducted and turned into tamed, mindless robots.
I have a theory about a similarly subversive process that turns grown men once capable of independent and reasoned thought into robotic extremists. Call them Stepford Republicans. The nefarious transformation always occurs before the individual gets close to becoming a Republican president or vice president.
Stepford Wives become robotically subservient only to their husbands; they pose no threat to the rest of us. But Stepford Republicans become subservient to right-wing forces of corporatism, war and prejudice. Once converted into mindless ideologues, Stepford Republicans are a threat to us all.
The prototype of a Stepford Republican is PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN. After his apparent abduction and alteration, he became an instrument of corporate power in the White House: union-busting, downsizing, cutting school lunch funding. This is the Reagan many remember: champion of the overdog.
But when Reagan was still a sentient being, he was actually a bleeding-heart advocate for working people. He denounced budget cuts ("millions of children have been deprived of milk once provided through the federal school lunch program") and tax cuts that "benefit the higher income brackets alone." He assailed corporate profiteering, and labeled a top Republican "the banner carrier for Wall Street." He hailed unions and complained that "labor has been handcuffed by the vicious Taft-Hartley law."
In other words, before he was robotized, Ronald Reagan could be a warm, compassionate human being - and I offer a remarkable tape to prove my theory.
Many Americans have long suspected that VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY is an android. What they may not know is that - before being Stepfordized into a neoconservative drone - he was capable of non-ideological thought that would allow him to choose a peace option over war, able to use human reason to figure out why invading Iraq would inevitably lead to "quagmire." This short video clip offers compelling evidence.
Today, MITT ROMNEY is such a robotically rabid spouter of social-conservative dogma that he's won the praise of radio rightists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. Offered as evidence of his Stepfordization is this video revealing a once human and tolerant Romney who seemed to care deeply about women's rights and abortion rights, and resisted any connection to the policies of Reagan-Bush. It was this pre-abduction Romney who boasted that he would do more for gay equality than Ted Kennedy.
JOHN MCCAIN was also horrifically rewired toward servile courtship of the Religious Right. Dramatic evidence of McCain's Stepfordization is caught on video: "Before" footage shows you a strong human speaking bravely against right-wing "agents of intolerance" like Jerry Falwell; "after" footage reveals a lifeless, docile tool of those same forces.
Perhaps you can't accept my theory - despite the powerful taped evidence I offer - that these Republican icons are victims of Stepford-like abduction and transplant.
If so, I'd like to hear an alternative theory as to why these individuals betray their own principles or intellect - why they turn themselves into fawning servants of economic forces or ideologies or social movements they once abhorred.
The blind pursuit of power, you say? I'm simply unwilling to believe that human beings - even top Republicans - are so inherently opportunistic and corrupt.
I'll stick with my abduction theory.
Jeff Cohen is author of "Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media."