Green Room

What’s In a Name? Well, Everything!

posted at 9:43 pm on August 9, 2009 by

Shakespeare notwithstanding, a rose by any other name would not, in fact, smell as sweet; “seeing is believing” is a much less accurate saying than “believing is seeing” — especially in politics, the art of the image. “What a fool believes, he sees.”

The winner of the race to define one’s opponent typically wins the election as well. And in this race, the Democrats and the Left in general left the starting blocks a century ago, while we’re still standing around, waiting for the starting gun.

The other day, I was very rudely awakened by my clock radio, which is set to a local classical music station. The station was in between pieces, and Mr. Announcer was saying something very like the following: “When this next charming dance music debuted, it was denounced by conservatives — as they generally denounced any fun music of the era.” Annoyed, I turned it off before even hearing the charming dance… and I’m not even a conservative!


I am, however, a dyed-in-the-wool enemy of contemporary liberalism and leftism of any era, making me “one of us,” in that sense. I never voted for a Republican from my first vote in 1978 through 1986, five elections; since 1988, I have never voted for anybody but a Republican.

To me, that was the year (Michael Dukakis) that the mainstream of the Democratic Party crossed the Rubicon, transmogrifying from being a sincerely loyal opposition, though frequently misguided — to being actual enemies of America who had to be stopped, crushed, and forced to rebuild themselves in the mold of Harry Truman and Hubert Humphrey.

The latter was a New Deal Democrat, but always an anti-Communist — unlike FDR himself — and one who truly loved our country. He was foolish in some areas, such as massive government spending to “solve” social problems; but he was also willing to reconsider when confronted with real evidence. Gosh, what a breath of fresh air that would be, after decades of Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Algore, JFK — and now a nation under the iron thumb of B.O.

But back to my tail of woe

Later that day, Sachi and I went to see the wonderful chick-flick Julie & Julia. In the course of the otherwise thoroughly enjoyable movie, we were gobsmacked by three or four gratuitous slams against conservatives and Republicans. All but one took place in the “Julia Child” sections and were at least defensible, if still unnecessary: The worst was a scene depicting Paul Child, Julia Child’s husband, being investigated (interrogated) by “the committee” — though the movie never says which one, the House Committee on Un-American Activities or the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations. We are told that he was investigated because he was stationed in China during World War II.

I have no idea whether this really happened — I cannot find any documentary evidence of such an investigation outside the movie. It’s not even mentioned in his New York Times obituary; and if anybody would tout such an incident, you’d think it would be the Times.

But even if he really was investigated, I’m quite skeptical that the only reason was his official posting in China, ordered by the Office of Strategic Services. To my mind, it’s much more plausible that the pair of them, liberal intellectuals both, could easily have flirted with Marxism — as did so many of their contemporaries.

But two points were glossed over that were just as important as the investigation itself… shifting the movie scenes from merely recounting “the truth” to broadcasting leftist propaganda:

  • According to the movie, Paul Child was investigated and cleared. (But wait! I thought that never happened… weren’t these investigations “witch hunts” that only smeared innocent people, never exonerated them?) Yet the movie only mentions that en passant, without any acknowledgement that perhaps the investigators were both sincere and honest.
  • Despite the movie’s reference on several occasions to “the Republicans,” in reality, the House and Senate committees included both Republicans and Democrats; in fact, during the period under discussion (say 1945 through 1955), Democrats controlled both Senate and House — therefore the corresponding committees — for six years, while Republicans controlled the chambers for only four.

One other slam against Republicans is in the “Julie Powell” section, and this one is entirely uncalled for: After she plays hooky from work for a day, her boss says that if he were a Republican, he would have fired her. As she is a sympathetic character, that smear of course just makes Republicans look bad. (Left unsaid is that, sympathetic or not, she is depicted as a pretty bad employee who probably deserved firing. But the movie never connects these two points.)

It would be impossible, of course, to enumerate every movie and television episode that makes unnecessary and absurdist attacks on the Right; a well-researched list would probably include more than 50% of them. But each and every one is an example of the Left “defining” the Republicans and conservatives in popular art, so that the default position of American culture is that the Right is a bad joke.

Then let us include “serious” news and political analysis shows, which typically refer to every oppressor around the world as a “conservative” — even when he’s a jihadi, a revolutionary, or a Marxist. Even the mullahs in Iran are routinely referred to as “conservatives.”

What does conservative mean in this context? They certainly are not traditionalists; Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution was radical, breaking not only with established political tradition — Iran had been ruled by shahs since the 1500s — but established religious tradition: Twelver Shia clerics had by and large shunned direct political rule since before Iran arose as a distinct Persian Islamic country.

Nor do the mullahs believe in judicial modesty, rule by law, a firm constitution above control of the ruling party, Capitalism and the free market, or even the ethical monotheism that underpins American conservativism. They are not conservative by any rational definition.

Much the same can be said for the fascists and Marxists in Latin America, Africa, and Asia — often dubbed “hard-right strongmen.” And even Adolf Hitler — a raging socialist and utopian internationalist, who railed against Capitalism as often as at Communism, and thought he could “perfect” the human race by culling the “defectives” and breeding “supermen” — is invariably referred to as a “right winger,” rather than head of the National Socialist German Workers Party.

In a brilliant exercise of “argument by tendentious redefinition,” the Left has successfully transformed the word “conservative” into a synonym for tyranny, oppression, and dictatorship… even for radical movements that not only did not “conserve” the institutions and values of their native cultures but overturned them in the most violent way. And lefties (including Lucky Lefty himself) still beaver away at that same tree today, albeit in a rather ham-fisted manner.

It’s an astonishing feat of political legerdemain that can transform Marxists, Stalinists, and a radical Islamic and quasi-socialist theocracy into an indistinguishable batch of conservative hardliners. But the more infuriating point is, the Right let them get away with it.

Liberals and Democrats are supposed to try to make monkeys out of conservatives and Republicans; that’s their job. But the latter are supposed to fight back, establishing their own identities and reinventing the Left… rather than quietly rolling over and accepting what fate deals out in true fatalist style. The most embarassing part is that our putative “leaders” in Congress and in the previous administration have hopped aboard the caboose… leaving it up to ordinary folks to drive the train.

William F. Buckley, jr. made conservatism respectable; Ronald Reagan made it popular. But we haven’t had a Reagan since 1989, and there isn’t one on the horizon that I can see; no, not Sarah Palin, not Mitt Romney, not Eric Cantor (R-VA, 92%)… at least not yet.

Ronald Reagan was already considered a great conservative Republican leader when he first ran for the governorship of California in 1966; he was famous, among other things, for breaking the back of the Communist cadre in the Screen Actors Guild (then an actual union) and for fighting Soviet propaganda in Hollywood. By the time he finally won the nomination for president in 1980, he was also a very successful two-term governor of the largest state in the United States, giving him experience and gravitas.

In that year, Reagan was universally recognized, by friend and foe alike, as the leader of the conservative movement in America. The primary was barely even a contest, with Reagan taking 44 primary or caucus delegations, and his only real rival, George H.W. Bush, taking only seven (Iowa, Puerto Rico, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and Michigan)… and six fairly well-known wannabes getting bupkis.

It was a complete blowout; Reagan was the undisputed heavyweight champeen of the conservative movement. “Now the king is gone but he’ll not be forgotten, nor his like will we ever see.”

Newt Gingrich was a spectacularly successful “revolutionary;” he was perhaps the only person who could have snatched the House right out from under Tom Foley’s nose (with the help of the House banking scandal); but Gingrich proved a fairly inept Speaker of the House. He is a wonderful idea-man, spitting out original and popular policy proposals like an M61 Vulcan spits incendiary shells… but as the chief executive of the nation, he would be a disaster: He hasn’t the patience, the attention span, nor the charisma.

There is no Republican in view today who has even as much charisma as Gingrich, and charisma is vital for generating hegemony (per Marxian theorist and revolutionary Antonio Gramsci, perceived fitness to rule). Any such authority would come only from the office — not from the person, as it did with previous leaders: the good (Lincoln, Reagan), the bad (Wilson, TR), and the ugly (FDR).

Fortunately, the only charismatic Democrat on the scene today is the terribly compromised Barack H. Obama, whose power curve is dropping faster than the glidepath of a dead-stick Shuttle. We don’t need a Ronald Reagan to regain power (which is good, because we don’t — and won’t — have one). But once there, we are going to need moral discipline such as Republicans have not held since the first heady days of the Gingrich revolution.

An excellent start would be to take the propaganda war within this country seriously for once… and actually fight back against the liberal-left, anti-Republican disinformation campaign. I see a nascent effort; but not until I start seeing a real and serious pushback by our guys — unified, forceful, unapologetic, and not just by the grass roots (who by definition aren’t running for office), will I say we actually have a legitimate shot at the “conservative realignment” that Fred Barnes talked about before 2006 and 2008.

Cross-posted on Big Lizards

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Well said.

Dems have, as a party, lost their way. The old patriotic pro-American Dems are gone.

Not sure how to fix this, but .. I can’t see how spending the proverbial ’40 years in the wilderness’ and having to rebuild would hurt ’em…. although the ’40 years of single-party rule’ could be problematic.

As for charisma, it’s way too early to be handicapping 2012. Obama’s remarkable rise from state senate to president is not likely to be repeated, neither party is likely to field a candidate with that thin a resume’ for some time – I can’t believe Dem party insiders are thrilled with the direction (and the backlash) Obama is generating. Both parties will likely be playing somewhat safer in 2012.

The thing is, charisma (whether defined as some form of people-magnetism or as fitness to rule) isn’t so much about ability to work a stage as it is about managing (and staying on) the message.

McCain was all over the map, never quite figured out what the message was, and it cost him. Palin seems able to stay on-message, and it’d be foolish to count her out, but she let McCain and the Dems define her – to an extent, she will always be defined by words Tina Fey put in her mouth.

The next GOP nominee is likely to be younger than average, probably a governor or otherwise with solid government executive experience. Unless the economy manages to turn around under Obama’s watch – which I consider unlikely – the next nominee is likely to be a “numbers guy”, with demonstrated experience at balancing a states’ budget.

It’s almost certain that Obama will be the Dem nominee, unless he is for some reason unable to run. (anything from birthers to a major (i.e. not whitewashable) scandal) This gives plenty of Repubs who you and I have never heard of time to sharpen their rhetoric, buff their credentials, and get ready to rumble.

It’d be fun to watch, but the stakes are rather high.


acat on August 9, 2009 at 11:15 PM

Sadly, I just watched Private Benjamin with Goldie Haun. It premiered in 1980. Jimmy Carter was POTUS when it was made. The entire movie was spent trashing the Republicans as evil, big military, and working behind the scenes to corrupt the world.

Then I watched The Shooter, with Mark Wahl. They deride goverenment (big G) and claim “it isn’t the Democrats, it isn’t the Republicans, it’s just the way it is”. But, considering it had Danny Glover in it, and the most evil of evils was from Montana with pale white skin and white hair, well, you can guess where the message picture leads you. In the end, the only solution the Shooter can come up with, after losing his case in the eyes of the law, is to kill them personally. Just imagine if a conservative even spoke anything like that! We are supposed to play our roles as Sheriff of Nottingham and get our asses handed to us, so SHUT UP.

The Dixie Chics thought speaking truth to power was great, unless it had consequences. What they didn’t realize is that the only thing they had to worry about was a dip in record sales. This President doesn’t see anything wrong with insulting a cop, and then “offering him a beer” at the White House when he refuses to back down. Intimidating? Last time my husband “had a beer” with friends, he wasn’t wearing a suite and tie.

This President doesn’t see anything wrong with using an iron hand to hammer down and squeeze the entire pensions out of the Indiana Teachers fund. Just call them “terrorists”. Just send your Chicago thugs to help them see the light and “agree” that any crumbs are tasty treats.

These people, the ones who have the power, don’t see anything wrong with using it against the people they are pledged to protect.

Oh, and btw, if you understood Julia Child, if you read her biography, it you knew anything at all about the times and the people, you (you in this case being the makers of the film and Hollywood) would know that Julia was a Republican. And she often mentioned it on her show. She was country club. She was upper crust. But she was NOT one who flirted with Marxism. And neither was her husband. So that whole thing is a complete rewrite of history. Julia was a woman with too much time and too much money on her hands, so she went to cooking school, in Paris. Not exactly the place for the dirty masses. And not cheap either. Then she marketed her discovery this cooking was fun and not so terribly hard. It amused her that if SHE could do it, anybody could. She capitalized on her new found talent. Does that sound like Joan of Arc or JP Morgan?

Meryl Strep (diliberate misspelling) is the Queen of the “Left my head so open my brains fell out”. It is amusing to her that she can make tons of money mocking the system that allows her to do so. She is pre-Hitler German decadance who thinks she is going to be exempt from all the rules and taxes and class hatred.

Don’t worry about who is going to emerge to lead us out of hell. We will emerge. We are now taking back our country, one town hall at a time.

Ohio Granny on August 10, 2009 at 6:56 AM

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