Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Republicans Eschew Reality

It seems modern Republicans like their meat red and their talk tough.

The audiences for the two recent Republican debates cheered for dealing out death to the deserving on two occasions. The first to do with Gov. Rick Perry’s plain delight in executing the guilty in Texas and his certitude that all 234 of them have been as guilty as sin. The other had to do with Rep. Ron Paul’s willingness to let a hypothetical 30-year-old patient die because he lacks insurance.

Dana Milbank's savvy piece about the CNN/Tea Party Express debate is here.

After watching those two debates and seeing how far into Fantasyland the Republicans have wandered, I feel compelled to comment about how much the Republican Party has changed in one particular respect.

If you go back a few decades, Republican conservatives stood on the idea that they were about hard-edged reality. In the old days they saw liberal Democrats as being dreamers about what ought to be, wishful thinkers. But during those two debates the live audiences had no passion for grasping reality, because they only had ears for the tough talk coming from the stage.

Last night the crowd took to Perry’s exaggerated swagger. He was clearly the early favorite, yet it also liked Paul’s attacks on Perry. It liked Rep. Michele Bachmann’s attacks on Perry, too. Then it liked Perry’s attacks on former-Gov. Mitt Romney, etc.

However, the same crowd loved it when anybody talked tough to Pres. Barack Obama. Whether any of it actually made sense mattered little to the assembled Tea Party sympathizers.

The Republican debates, so far, have been exercises in assertiveness -- style. Substance has been in rather short supply. As for reality, forget about it. The candidates have tossed phony facts/numbers around like confetti.

In the doing, at times some of the Republican hopefuls have seemed as though they were auditioning for the protagonist’s role in the remake in an old action movie.

No, not Clint Eastwood’s Harry “Make My Day” Callahan in “Sudden Impact.”

But rather, Robert De Niro’s Travis “Are You Talking to Me?” Bickle in “Taxi Driver.”

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