Surely by now you’ve seen the Rick Perry YouTube ad that is the latest faceplant his campaign has engineered for him. The rocket scientists in charge of his run at the Oval Office forgot to turn off the YouTube “like/dislike” button, and so far the odious thing’s received the second most “dislikes” YouTube ever has recorded. The only thing the American public hates more than this Perry ad is Justin Bieber’s video for “Baby.”
(In all honesty . . . I think that is the correct call.)
The ad features Perry, all saddle-faced and aw-shucksin’ it in an outdoor scene shot somewhere in Deutschland, explaining that he loves him some Baby Jeebus and he hates him some gays. He especially hates them military gays that volunteer to fight and risk their lives for America. Just thinkin’ ‘bout them gays makes him shudder and feel all icky inside. The thing might almost be a Stephen Colbert parody but Perry apparently intended for it to be taken seriously, so others have been forced to provide the parody for which the thing so desperately cries out. The meta-parody, as it were:
Over at Esquire.com, Charlie Pierce seems puzzled that Perry should be so tone deaf to modern American society. Does he still think it’s 1989? Pierce asks. But I think I can answer Charlie’s question. No, Rick Perry doesn’t think it’s 1989. Yes, Rick Perry does think that nothing’s changed since 1989.
We may finally be seeing the Ragnarok that for years Liberals have been predicting the GOP would someday be forced to confront. This may be the moment the Republican Party is compelled to acknowledge that the Real World does not even remotely match the GOP Fantasy World that their epistemic closure has allowed them to create for themselves.
I’d bet you dollars to donuts that when Rick Perry cut that ad he had no doubts – none whatsoever – that he wouldn’t have to pay a price for it. So what, I am sure he was thinking, I’m hating on the gays. Buncha preverts anyway. No one’ll give a damn, and I’ll look like a good, God-fearin’ man. That’ll get me the votes. ‘Specially in Iowa.
(Which, Perry would probably be interested to learn, legalized same-sex marriage some time ago.)
But how could Perry not have thought that? The only TeeVee Conservatives watch anymore is Fox News. Remember? Dick Cheney’s rider requires that his hotel room’s teevees be preset to Fox News, presumably so that nothing might burst the fantasy bubble he needs in order to pretend that the boxes that travel with him don’t actually contain native soil on which he sleeps.
And Limbaugh’s listeners find it a point of pride to refer to themselves as “dittoheads,” i.e., “ditto whatever you say Rush.” Herman Cain – who was for a brief, shining moment the beloved of the right wing and who demonstrated that he knew absolutely nothing about national politics – famously admitted that all his political understanding came from the right-wing radio program he hosted for a few years:
“I can honestly say that if I hadn’t been on the radio, I wouldn’t have been as familiar with the issues as I am now,” Cain has written. “I believe that having that program was God’s way of forcing me to understand the critical issues confronting our nation.”
In short, Cain’s briefings on politics came from heated right-wing callers on talk radio. “Epistemic closure” is probably too mild a term for such conditions.
The Republican Party has created such a hermetically sealed, self-contained world consisting of nothing but Fox News, AM Radio, Regnery Publishing, and itself that now its candidates think that when they are speaking to each other they are actually talking with voters. And, at least with respect to the Republican Faithful, that might very well be true.
Rick Santorum – bless his frothy, bilious, black little heart – has visited every single county in Iowa, meeting face to face with people and courting their vote, and he still comes up dead last in the polls (dead last among actual candidates; Huntsman no longer counts at this point, having failed to make the cut at the last debate – he is dead to me now). And, yes, I’ll admit . . . this is Rick Santorum we’re talking about but – still and c’mon – he did once at least con most of the State of Pennsylvania into voting for him. He must have the ability to con at least some of these Iowan Republicans, right?
No more. It may still be true that Democrats have to show up to compete in Iowa, maybe Iowan Democrats still want to meet their candidates face-to-face, but Iowan Republicans have decided that they’re content to pick their candidate based on whoever does the best on Fox News.
Which I totally get; I mean, if I were an Iowan Republican and I could either pick someone off of the TeeVee, as if I were voting for my favorite contestant from American Idol or Dancing With The Stars, or else actually meet and – ew! – touch these people . . . hell, I’d be making my pick from the Barcalounger too.
* * *
This may be the year we get an entire crop of Republican candidates that actually believes the shit spilling from their mouths. Fox News was launched only half a generation ago but its ability to seal off dissent and make the Republican extreme the Republican mainstream has had the same effect on the Republican candidates as the CIA’s MKULTRA program had on its subjects: it’s destroyed their ability to discriminate between lies and truth. Now they actually believe whatever the propaganda loudspeaker tells them to believe:
Gays will destroy marriage; There is a War on Christmas; Liberals eat Sharia turkeys for Thanksgiving; City-funded bike paths mean the UN gets to take over your town; Health reform means death panels; There are Liberal re-education camps being constructed in secret all over the country; Michele Obama wants to take away your table salt; BE AFRAID, BE AFRAID, BE AFRAID . . . .
Of course, Gingrich believes this gibberish because he has to – he invented the program back in 1994, which is why when Fox turned the Republican MKULTRA on him he could come out of it worried that his grandchildren would grow up in an America that was both a “secular atheist country,” and “dominated by radical Islamists.”
Bachmann and Santorum believe it because, well, they were crazy to begin with. We know this because they married crazy people. How do we know they married crazy people? Well, Rick Santorum apparently married a woman who agrees with him that married couples should not have sex unless it is to procreate – no recreational sex allowed, so that’s . . . . what? Maybe six times in your life if you’re willing to pay for that much college? Does that sound sane to you?
And Michele Bachmann married a man who “cures” gays and who . . . oh, just watch:
Perry believes it because, shit, Perry’s dumb enough to have believed it wouldn’t be a problem for a professional politician to own a ranch named “Niggerhead.” Ron Paul believes it because he’s Ron Paul, and even though he’s crazier ‘n bag of snakes he is utterly sincere.
And Mitt? I don’t think Mitt thinks that it is possible to really believe in anything. But I think that at any given moment, and to a reasonable approximation, Mitt “believes” whatever is coming out of his mouth at the time. That won’t stop him from “believing” the direct opposite thing less than five minutes later, but by then circumstances will have changed and Mitt will simply be required to “believe” something new then. Mitt’ll “believe” for as long as he needs to, but he will never, ever care.
And that’s just crazy.