Thursday, January 14, 2010

Andrew Sullivan---Watching Beck And Palin: "God Played An Essential Role In The Founding Of This Nation" (video)

Andrew Sullivan, with video (06:15):
Just listen to the beginning of their restaurant chat, appropriating both the WTC site and the Statue of Liberty.
More to the point, listen to the framework of their discussion. The core concept is a "re-founding" of America. Beck writes a few sentences in his notebook, suggesting that Palin and only Palin is capable of saving the United States from the "radical, revolutionary crazy people" (Obama, Clinton) and relentless progressives (McCain). There's a combination of simmering class ressentiment, and a profound sense of self-pity:

Tomorrow I meet Sarah Palin and family for the first time. I am actually a little nervous as she is one of the only people that I can see who can possibly lead us out of where we are in. I don't know yet if she's strong enough if she's well-enough advised, or if she knows she can no longer trust anyone. I don't know if she can lead us and not lose her soul.

Here you have a confluence of many of the themes of the far right. Distrust of everything in politics, of every politician, of the "system" that has been co-opted by mysterious and menacing elites, and a sense of total beleaguerment in the modern world. And the interpretation of Obama as a hoax foisted on the country by these elites, an alien, subversive danger to "real America".

What you have is a new kind of radical right fusionism. The anti-government, populist streak taps into class resentment, and broader anger at what has been a terrible period for fiscal responsibility. But the narrative also fits precisely into the evangelical-Christianist narrative of being misunderstood and persecuted by the world, a constant humiliation and alienation ... that leads to a series of events in which things on earth get much worse until a leader, a new Esther, emerges to save us.

The more you listen to Palin, you sense a shift in her consciousness, a shift that she is indeed the woman chosen to save this country - chosen by God. "It is God's plan" was Palin's reaction to losing the election.

And the plan is that she will lose once only to be resurrected at the head of a large army of disaffected and alienated Christianists, a brigade of anti-government populists, channeled and organized directly by a media outlet that has long since abandoned the role of a neutral journalistic organization.

FNC is now the RNC. The strategy is clear: demonize Obama as a threat from within (the classic McCarthyite paranoid tradition, given more oomph by race and religion), add a whiff of the idea that he is deliberately weakening America to allow Islamic terrorists kill us, portray even obviously emergency moves, like bailing out the banks, as a plan to take over the entire economy and socialize it, and wrap it all up in a coded religious eschatology.

If you are not alarmed by this development - a new, proto-fascist political party being recreated on television in front of our very eyes - then you have not read much history.

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