Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Back in 2007 we were treated to the spectacle of Senator David Vitter (R-LA) at a hastily called news conference to announce that he had been unfaithful to his wife by having sex with prostitutes in New Orleans and Washington, D.C. in the "D.C. Madam Scandal." Even worse, this guy made his wife stand next to him at his press conference and offer her support to her husband. Playing on the fundamentalist Christian base of the GOP, Vitter pulled a Jimmy Swaggert with "I have sinned and ask your forgiveness." The rubes bought it; Vitter was easily reelected and remains in the U.S. Senate today.
In 2009, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford went "missing" from his job as governor, his whereabouts unknown to the public, as well as to his
wife and the State Law Enforcement Division, which provides security for
him. The episode garnered nationwide news coverage. Sanford told his staff that he was "hiking the Appalachian Trail," which has now become a euphemism for flying off to Argentina to have sex with your mistress — on Father's Day weekend no less. Unlike Sen. Vitter, Gov. Sanford admitted to having an extramarital affair but said he would die "knowing that I had met my soul mate." For Sanford, his transgression was a modern-day tale of "Love Story."
This year, Mark Sanford ran for the congressional seat vacated when Rep. Tim Scott (R) was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Senator Jim DeMint (R), who bailed to take the big bucks offered him by the Heritage Foundation. Sanford's campaign played the fundamentalist Christian base of the GOP, pulling a
Jimmy Swaggert with "I have sinned and ask your forgiveness." He made his congressional campaign a story about sin and redemption. The rubes bought it; Sanford was easily elected to the House seat in this heavily Republican district on Tuesday. His victory speech was heavy on religion and redemption. The Washington Post plays along today. Mark Sanford’s political redemption.
What these cases demonstrate is that for movement conservatives, "it's OK if you are Republican" (IOKIYAR). As long as you are one of them, anything goes. One has to question whether there are any limitations.
Some political scientists refer to this as "tribalism," or hyper-partisanship. Other political scientists have noted something more sinister behind tribalism. I have written about how the modern-day GOP has a unified theory of socio-econonomic-religious-political dogma. Movement conservatives have created an alternate reality in which they live in an epistemic closure "bubble" or feed-back loop, fed by the conservative media entertainment complex. The GOP is not so much a political party as it is a conservative cult. It demands strict adherence to its dogma. All others are infidels.
Thom Hartmann recently wrote about this phenomenon in a piece for truthout.org. The Right Wing Cult Machine Exposed – Truthout:
Far right Conservatism has become a cult, and Rush Limbaugh is its leader.
By definition, a cult is a group or sect bound together by adoration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
A cult promises you redemption. It tells you that if you do what it
says, and as it believes, you will be protected from the evil people
that are out to get you and the rest of society.
A cult purges the non-believers. And it actively tries to vilify all
those who are not part of the cult, saying that they're doomed and
destined to go to hell.
So how did Limbaugh become the leader of such a large, and influential, cult?
Like with any cult, the power that Limbaugh has over his flock as grown over time.
Right wing radio started out in conflict with mainstream society, and outside of mainstream politics.
What was once a little cult guided by Limbaugh has transformed into a
massive cult that today has enveloped much of the Conservative
* * *
Which brings us to today.
Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the right-wing talk radio cult have
conjured up such a large following that they're helping the Koch
Brothers drive the polarization within the Republican Party, and within
America's political discourse.
Ironically, so says Frank Luntz, a top Republican consultant and campaign guru.
Earlier this week, Luntz told a group of college students at the
University of Pennsylvania that Limbaugh and his fellow right-wing
talk-radio cult leaders are "problematic" for the Republican Party
because they're responsible for the stark polarization within the party.
In a secret recording of his comments, Luntz can be heard saying
that, "And they get great ratings, and they drive the message, and it's
really problematic. And this is not on the Democratic side. It's only on
the Republican side…[inaudible]. [Democrats have] got every other
source of news on their side. And so that is a lot of what's driving it.
If you take—Marco Rubio's getting his ass kicked. Who's my Rubio fan
here? We talked about it. He's getting destroyed! By Mark Levin, by Rush
Limbaugh, and a few others. He's trying to find a legitimate, long-term
effective solution to immigration that isn't the traditional Republican
approach, and talk radio is killing him. That's what's causing this
thing underneath. And too many politicians in Washington are playing
Basically, Luntz was saying that the right-wing media and its cult
following are not serving the national political debate and not helping
the Republican Party widen its appeal beyond its declining base of aging
But no matter what Luntz says, Limbaugh and the rest of his
right-wing media pals will continue to rally their followers, and
continue to vilify those who dare think otherwise.
* * *
The good news is that there are still some semblances of a normal, and non-cult media in America.
Unlike the right-wing media, real media – and even progressive media –
is not cult-like. It talks about ideas that are widely accepted (social
safety net, clean environment, nondiscrimination, a solid middle
class), and that are not in conflict with the rest of society.
It's not based on fear or faith. It's based on facts. And it respects other beliefs and ideas, instead of vilifying them.
And perhaps, most importantly, real media doesn't fear or hate our
government, and certainly doesn't suggest we should be armed and ready
to attack our own government.
Sadly, that cult is coming dangerously close to having complete
control over the Republican Party and much of the political discourse in
Thankfully, people are waking up and recognizing the far right-wing media for what it is: a cult.
Sadly, the corporate "lamestream" media follows the lead of the conservative media entertainment complex. Just check out how many reports refer to Mark Sanford's political "redemption" today. Sanford has not been redeemed. He was elected in a heavily Republican district that would elect a convicted felon to office as long as he is one of them, a member of the conservative cult. That troubling fact is the real story here, but one which will not be reported. It is relevant, because it is the reason why Democrats winning back control of Congress in gerrymandered districts will prove so difficult to achieve.