As usual, this ciolumn, by agreement with the syndicators, appears here a week after its newspaper release)
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DAZZLING AND BAFFLING ON THE RIGHT
BY BOB FRANKEN
As the saying goes, “If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your baloney.” I know, that’s not exactly how it goes, but absolute accuracy is just not worth the hassle, so go with me on this.
In that spirit, I’m going to mimic Newt Gingrich and look up a relevant pretentious quote from a dead guy to try and leave the false impression that I’m one erudite kinda guy. Actually, Newt does it with the obscure out-of-context history he inflicts on an unknowing someone. It fills his insatiable need to come across as really, really smart.
My Googled quote comes from 10th-century British philosopher John Stuart Mill, who said “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.”
That seemed to be the operating premise of Newt, Mitt and Rick, to say nothing of Sarah and the rest of the gang, at the weekend gathering in Washington of CPAC. CPAC, for those who don’t follow these thing closely because they have a life, means Conservative Political Action Conference. It’s an annual event featuring thundering politicians who pander to the worst instincts of the far right, whether it be anti-black, -woman, -gay and -whatever, or whether it’s pro-plutocracy and pro-theocracy — usually, all of the above.
Many others have put it this way: They want to “repeal the 20th century,” meaning they intend to chip away at everything from civil rights to Medicare to poverty programs to even the income tax — actually, especially the income tax.
So, there was Romney, trying to convince them he was one of them, calling himself a “severely conservative Republican governor,” whatever that meant, as he tried to run away from his political record. He won the annual CPAC straw poll, picking up 38 percent of the vote from his fellow “severe conservatives” in attendance; so his presentation must have worked. That, plus the fact that he brought in busloads of student supporters.
Way down in third place was Gingrich. His lecture featured the usual inflammatory adjectives as he continued to anoint himself the “anti-establishment”candidate. Of course, he’s been a part of the establishment for quite some time now, and it seemed that some audience members had seen the same act too many times. Only 15 percent of them voted for him.
Rick Santorum got 31 percent. Let’s face it, compared with Newt, he comes across as a much calmer, personable kinda guy who can put a smiley face on his nastiness against all the extremist’s usual suspects: gays, feminists , blacks, and of course, all Muslims.
The Islamic faithful likely would include Barack Obama in the minds of many on this fringe. That’s just one of their reasons to absolutely despise the president. After all, he wasn’t even born here, to say nothing of the belief he’s an anti-American socialist who is conducting a “war against religion,”and he’s also, well, you know.
But, as usual, that modern-day philosopher Sarah Palin captured the spirit of the righteous Right gathering when she gave the CPAC keynote address. She drew a roaring response each time she trashed President Obama, as in: “Keep your change — We’ll keep our God, our guns, our Constitution.” Palin left many in the audience wondering what might have been, or even what might still be. As George Orwell wrote (I’m on a roll here), “Political language ... is designed to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Which is another way to describe that choice between dazzling brilliance and baffling ... whatever.
One more quote, if you don’t mind, this one from the Indonesian Orang Palsu: “Honesty has nothing to do with the pursuit of power.”
By the way, according to my smartphone translation app, “Orang Palsu” means “Phony Person.” I made it up. Just like certain politicians.