Sunday Night Journal — March 25, 2012
Earl Scruggs, RIP

The Left-Wing Theocratic Fantasy

James Bowman, writing in The New Criterion, on the waves of hysteria provoked by Rick Santorum's social conservatism, worth quoting at length:

John Nichols, blogging for The Nation, wrote that Mr. Santorum “has no qualms about rewriting the Constitution as a social-conservative manifesto.” Whether or not he would have any qualms, he would not, even as president, have any power to re-write the Constitution as a social-conservative manifesto, assuming there could be such a thing, and so has not proposed to do so. That at various times he has expressed support for constitutional amendments very unlikely ever to pass, circumventing Roe v. Wade or in defense of traditional marriage, does not make the idea, expressed with affected horror, of a rewritten Constitution any less of a left-wing fantasy foisted upon him on the basis of the media’s neverending barrage of hypotheticals designed to expose what they claim to regard as his outlandish religious views....

...Those on the left may or may not believe in this right-wing bugbear they are at such pains to create, but they undoubtedly have a very strong sense of the convenience of having such a bugbear to attack when people might otherwise want to talk about subjects like jobs, economic growth, or government fiscal policy that the left would prefer to avoid during this election season. Left-wing utopianism is so much the default position of the media that it is easy for such writers to pretend that the most important thing about a candidate is how, if he were absolute dictator, he would fashion an ideal society. By treating Mr. Santorum (or anybody else) as if he were seeking election to the presidency in order to do only things that the president cannot do, the media and their left-wing allies hope they will be able to hold together a bare majority on behalf of President Obama—a majority not of those who approve of him, which he is most unlikely to have, but of those who are opposed to this left-wing fantasy of a right-wing theocracy. And how glad we will all be, amidst our economic doldrums and our fiscal ruin, to have dodged that bullet.

(My emphasis) 

I sometimes wonder how much of the professed fear is real. I suspect it may be both real and not real--I believe the emotion is real, more or less, but that deep down those who cultivate it know that they're just telling each other scary stories. Not that they wouldn't in fact be very unhappy with Rick Santorum (or for that matter Mitt Romney) as president, but in their hearts they know they aren't in any danger proportional to the emotion.


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I remember some americans being deeply worried that if Bush got a second term, it would be The End, America would be a howling void of fascism ever after, he would never ever relinquish power. Then Bush won, and people sobered up and life went on. Fear is a strange thing.

What was especially goofy about that was that Bush was so far from being even a potential theocrat--basically a fairly ordinary WASP. Some said we were already there, fascist-wise.

I'm hearing some of that now about a 2nd Obama term, which I believe would in fact be a very bad thing for the country, but the idea that he will suddenly declare a permanent state of martial law is pretty bizarre.

And so far he hasn't done anything bizarre, right?


I don't know if I'd use the word "bizarre." Bad, for sure. For the most part nothing any other liberal president wouldn't do or try to do. But martial law? I don't think any president could get away with that in any circumstance less than violent insurrection or civil war. Which some people also are predicting, but which I don't really see happening, though things can always take a wildly unexpected turn. What I see is just a continual slow tightening of control. In that respect I think the HHS mandate is a turning point, or will be if it stands. Which is why I'd vote for pretty much anybody over Obama...even the Flukeman.

Easy to exaggerate your fears, though - it's all in a good cause, i.e. making the feared object look properly frightening, which can seem a pretty strong imperative when you genuinely fear something, and you can always calm down and quietly forget your hysterics later.

....mind, I bet you a jar of marmite Obama totally declares martial law sometime in 2015 >.>

(Apropos of which, they do a distilled beer spirit here, pivovica, which smells somewhat of marmite. It's often drunk with beer, because... there's not much else you can actually drink it with and you certainly can't drink it alone.)

The electronic media get a lot of blame for revving up the fear level, but I'm not sure the syndrome is really worse now than when it produced various riots, panics, pogroms, etc. in the old days.

Yes, if Obama wins the election. But people really haven't heard the Flukeman's message yet, and when they do I don't think Obama will have much of a chance.

"distilled beer" seems a very weird concept. I mean, it's part of the essence of beer to be bubbly, and you can't distill bubbles.

That reminds me, I haven't had any marmite for a while. I think I still have about half the jar.

p.s. December 29, 2011, is a pretty long time ago in the blog world.

I hadn't heard anyone blaming electronic media for fear levels, although possibly I don't listen to the right/wrong people. It sounds like something said by an old media journalist.

In the olden days news was largely spread by messenger or word of mouth, so fear levels could be raised by entirely unsubstantiated rumours which there wasn't any obvious way of checking up on, or holding anyone responsible for. Electronic media has its downsides, like decreasing everyone's attention span, but I'll take it over pogroms caused by someone claiming the Jews were poisoning the wells.

Also there are non-bubbly beers - english ales sometimes have very little foam on top, for example. But I think beer spirit is just a way of getting drunk fast. I've also come across beer liqueur, an equally strange substance.

It's a pretty common theme here, and it's a real phenomenon. The Trayvon Martin thing is a good example--media-induced hysteria, bordering on lynch mob mentality, only loosely based on facts. The internet helps fan the flames, but on the other hand, as you suggest, it also provides a lot of capabilities for fact-checking. Only trouble is that a lot of people aren't interested in facts.

I was reading the other day that the combination of cell phones and a non-literate population is a real problem in Afghanistan--they can tell more people more quickly about the well-poisonings.

I would like to sample these weird drinks, just out of curiosity.

Point conceded. I'd forgotten about that - I gather there's a lot of people willing to suspend judgement and let the law handle such things, but you don't need a big fraction of the population worked up to get unpleasant consequences, death threats etc.

In this case much of the media has been culpable, in reporting very selectively and tendentiously. It's really a sorry spectacle, and while I don't think violence is going to result, it's inflamed racial hostility on both sides.

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