Eugene Robinson’s recent op-ed in the Washington Post had a concluding paragraph that really summed up America’s political situation. After explaining that we need at least two political parties, he wrote:
Right now, we have one center-left political party — the Democrats — and one flaming hot mess of ego, resentment and paranoia. It’s going to be a long two years.
The disgraceful antics of the crazies at Biden’s State of the Union address was just one recent illustration of that “flaming mess.” The newly-constituted “oversight” committees were another–evidently, they fell so short of proving misbehavior by the Biden Administration (while unintentionally disclosing Trump’s efforts at Twitter censorship) that Fox News decided against live coverage of committee shenanigans.
Speaking of shenanigans, the media has been all over wacko George Santos, who appears to live and work in an alternate reality that he managed to peddle during his Congressional campaign. Santos has been described as an outlier–rejected by “normal” Republicans.
The GOP’s purported outrage hasn’t found expression in Santos’ expulsion from the House, of course, and pathetic Kevin McCarthy (talk about your “hot messes”!) has appointed him to spots on important committees.
Now it turns out that Santos isn’t the only Republican fabulist.
Twelve years before she was elected as the first Mexican American woman to represent Florida in Congress, Anna Paulina Luna was serving at Whiteman Air Force Base in Warrensburg, Mo., where friends said she described herself as alternately Middle Eastern, Jewish or Eastern European. Known then by her given last name of Mayerhofer, Luna sported designer clothing and expressed support for then-President Barack Obama.
By the time she ran for Congress as a Republican, she had changed her last name to Luna in what she said was an homage to her mother’s family. A staunch advocate for gun rights, she cited on the campaign trail a harrowing childhood that left her “battle hardened.” She said she and her mother had little extended family as she grew up in “low-income” neighborhoods in Southern California with a father in and out of incarceration. She said she experienced a traumatizing “home invasion” when she was serving in the Air Force in Missouri.
Luna’s sharp turn to the right, her account of an isolated and impoverished childhood, and her embrace of her Hispanic heritage have come as a surprise to some friends and family who knew her before her ascent to the U.S. House this year. A cousin who grew up with Luna said she was regularly included in family gatherings. Her roommate in Missouri had no recollection of the “home invasion” Luna detailed, describing instead a break-in at their shared apartment when they were not home, an incident confirmed by police records. And three years before her first congressional bid as a conservative, Luna registered to vote as a Democrat in Washington state, voting records show.
I wonder how many other GOP Representatives have dramatically re-invented themselves in order to appeal to the GOP’s White Christian Nationalist base.(Calling Elise Stefanik…)
The New Republic recently published a less snarky and more analytical look at the GOP’s departure from sanity.The article began by quoting from a speech in which former President Kennedy had characterized political clashes as disputes about
“ways and means of reaching common goals—to research for sophisticated solutions to complex and obstinate issues…. What is at stake in our economic decisions today is not some grand warfare of rival ideologies which will sweep the country with passion, but the practical management of a modern economy.”
As we’ve all noticed, that civilized era didn’t last long.
Ideological warfare resumed in the United States with the rise of the New Left in the late 1960s and with the rise of the New Right in the early 1980s. Today, those ideological storms have subsided. This time, though, ideology is over not because right and left have reached rough consensus; far from it. The contest is done because the Republican Party walked off the field. We have arrived at the end of GOP ideology….
The author, Timothy Noah, explained that he wasn’t’t using the term ideology to describe pathologies, or resentments, or ethnic hatreds.
I’m not using it to describe the mob’s surrender to an authoritarian leader. I’m not using it in any of the broadly pejorative senses in which the term is commonly used today.
Rather, I’m using the word “ideology” to describe, in a neutral manner, some set of reasoned and coherent principles and policies, however mistaken, around which a society can be organized.
Instead of ideology (what I would call philosophy) Noah says we have GOP nihilism: “a party’s self-perpetuation for its own sake driven by an opportunistic indifference to fact and reason, expressed through coarse and incendiary rhetoric.”
In other words, a hot mess.