Meanwhile in the world of world-shaking political developments

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, July 7, 2011 12:17 EDT
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What's funny to me is that one of the major problems with crime stories like Casey Anthony's that take over the news is that they get covered even if there's really no new news, and there's so much coverage that, if you know nothing about the case, it's really hard to figure out much about it from any random news item about it.  (Seriously, from the first five items I grabbed about Anthony, I could be forgiven for assuming she was being tried in a capital case for aggravated promiscuity.)  That said, huge political stories of legitimate and inarguable importance fall into the same trap.  Debt ceiling stories are being churned out at a rapid pace, and most of them don't add much to the whole story except to keep it on the radar because it's a very important story.  I don't actually object to this—there's a value in continuing to say something over and over until  people hear it—but it does create almost comically burned out coverage of the issue.  

Which is why I had to laugh, though with sadness, at how freaked out and burned out Kevin Drum is:

The debt ceiling fight is sucking up all the wonk blogging oxygen these days, but I'm struggling to think of anything new to say about it. Republicans are great negotiators, Obama left himself wide open to lose this battle, Republicans are crazy, Democrats have no consistent position on offer, Republicans may benefit if the economy tanks, Democrats may benefit if independents conclude that Republicans are reckless and crazy, etc. etc. I guess it's worth repeating this stuff to make sure the point gets across, but there are only so many synonyms for "insane."

"Republicans have lost their ever-loving minds, yadda yadda yadda…."

Personally, I think the story that the Republican party has completely and totally caved to wild-eyed ideologues who have no understanding of policy and are willing to burn this country to the ground in order to score political points is probably an even bigger story than the debt ceiling fight.  I'm trying not to be smug about this, because the stakes are so high, but I have to point out that even a couple years ago—even a year ago—there was still a large and powerful faction of Democrats who believed that Teh Wingnuttery was mainly a show for the plebes, but that coolly rational if cold-hearted businessmen actually ran the party.  The problem with this theory has always been the underlying assumption that being a cold-hearted businessman is mutually exclusive from being a crazy ideologue who is willing to burn the country down to the grown to score political points.  There is no reason to believe this.  I think the logic  has been that they wouldn't have had the success they do if they were really so irrational.  This is due to liberals absorbing too much the notion that there's a "free market" that has some kind of meritocracy to it, when in fact business success is often more about luck than skill, especially when you're an executive who doesn't actually do any of the day to day work of selling goods or services to customers.  I've been under no illusions that being a suit makes you even somewhat rational, probably because my expertise is in fighting the religious right.  The image of the religious right is that they're a bunch of working class folks, but the reality is that wealthy white people who run businesses are overrepresented in the religious right, not underrepresented.  The chances that any random corporation or large business is being run by someone who speaks in tongues on the weekends is pretty fucking high.  I'm not surprised The Kuh-razy is spilling over into governance.

I think perhaps the astonishment that things have gotten so bad is also due to a form of American exceptionalism.  The irony is not lost on me, since so conservatives are always on lately about how liberals don't believe in this magical force in the universe that makes us better than everyone else.  But in reality, it's protected a lot of liberals from fully absorbing how bad the Republican party really is.  We assume that we, unlike so many other nations, are protected from being taken over by a bunch of wild-eyed fanatics.  But hey, it happens all the time.  It can happen here. 

As soon as this debt ceiling debate started, I figured the chances were incredibly high that Republicans would either take this to the wire or even refuse to raise the debt ceiling after the drop-dead date.  I honestly think a bunch of them are really excited at the possibility of completely destroying this country so they can remake it in their own image.  I mean, we're talking about an ideology that encourages people to "train" for the apocalypse on the weekends and go to church and pray for the Rapture.  They're not only not afraid of just destroying this country, they spend a lot of their waking hours hoping it can happen.  Why on earth would they pass up the chance to make it happen?  Sure, there are cooler heads still in the party, but they are shrinking in number.  We can't really discount the possibility that a mob mentality has taken over and the attitude is, "Armageddon? Bring it."  Especially since these kinds of things to work out really well for the rich, by dramatically expanding the difference between the haves and the have nots. 

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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