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Republican Rage

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While it was reported, Mike Huckabee’s bizarre behavior at a shooting range recently, in which he pointed his gun in the direction of a group of reporters, received very little media attention. The Chicago Tribune blog, “The Swamp,” did a good job of describing just how reckless the behavior was. But all we heard on the corporate television media was about Huckabee’s “morbid sense of humor,” in which he joked that the birds he killed did not vote for him. As if that were not enough, the Swamp reported:

“Huckabee emerged happily from his hunt, three dead pheasants in tow ... Asked for a metaphor to describe the hunt, he replied, ‘Don't get in my way. This is what happens.’"

This behavior gives a glimpse of how Huckabee’s easy-going image is a façade. But this type of thinly veiled rage and hostility is, unfortunately, not limited to Mike Huckabee. It’s an important theme that runs through this year’s Republican campaign, and through much of neo-conservative rhetoric. Maybe it started when Ronald Reagan famously exclaimed, “I paid for this microphone!” or when he joked about bombing the Soviet Union.

Psychiatrist and author, Justin Frank, did a masterful job of describing similar, destructive tendencies in George W. Bush, in his book Bush on the Couch. Frank points to Bush’s traumatic childhood (e.g., the loss of his sister, with no outlet for grief), his sadistic tendencies (e.g., blowing up frogs, branding fraternity pledges), his history of drinking, and his alleged learning disability, to make a compelling explanation for Bush’s self-defeating and destructive presidency. But, again, this theme is not limited to Bush, even given all these pathologies. It is something that has grown, as traditional conservatism has given way to neo-conservatism and the Radical Right.

George Lakoff’s work, of course, casts a similar light on the Right’s punitive “strict father” approach to policy positions, creating a world in which unwanted pregnancies, poverty and STD’s are just reward for immoral behavior. But even Lakoff's "strict father" strikes me as mild, compared to the increasing hostility we hear from the Right.  The most recent displays of this Republican rage came from the Fox GOP debate, where Fred Thompson confused the Iranian Navy with suicide bombers, gleefully calling for them to realize their fantasy of meeting their 72 virgins - apparently enjoying his fantasy of a violent confrontation. Then, of course, there has been the steady drumbeat of Republican enthusiasm for torture and detention without charge, with Mitt Romney calling for the doubling of Guantanamo.

The most disturbing aspect of this mean streak, however, is not that Republicans and other neo-cons are not nice. It is the fact that the most satisfying policy result for this mindset, is not peace and prosperity, their espoused goals. Free-floating rage constantly searches for an excuse to be expressed. What better excuse than the perpetuation of war, chaos, and conflict? When you’re casting about for a fight - and trying to prove your manhood, to boot - escalating conflict can be so satisfying!

Progressives have long tried to explain to the electorate that the Bush policies have increased the risks of terrorism, not decreased them. Many progressives have - correctly - pointed to the “secondary gains” of increased government powers that come from keeping the American people in a constant state of fear. But perhaps there’s another semi-conscious motivation at play - keeping those juices of rage flowing.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Amy-Fried-Ph.D./e/B004QOOD04/ref=ntt_d

Amy Fried is the author of "Escaping Dick Cheney's Stomach." She received her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, and has been an advocate for church-state separation and other civil liberties issues. She writes on women's issues, media, veganism (more...)
 

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Glad to know that the Republican filth is getting ... by John Hanks on Monday, Jan 14, 2008 at 10:51:23 PM
It's so good to see the concepts of "incl... by Tom Murphy on Monday, Jan 14, 2008 at 11:16:33 PM
to a few simple observations appears excessive.&nb... by Daniel Geery on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 2:54:01 AM
Your comment is an example why the Left fails to c... by Tom Murphy on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 8:36:08 AM
Ron Paul's strict adherence to the Constitutio... by ronheri on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 7:12:30 AM
Either the Republican base recognizes the ill of t... by William Casino on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 9:43:42 AM
I agree, and in fact he speaks out against neo-con... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 11:31:24 AM
I'd be angry to if I believed power/money woul... by davy on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 7:22:53 AM
lesse... pride... "patriotism;"  Ro... by waldopaper on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 11:35:41 AM
As a conservative I oppose Socialism and Fascism.&... by Barker on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 12:00:00 PM
I must confess that I'm not quite following so... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 12:14:18 PM
The rage is a neo-conservative idea, and one that ... by Louis Park on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 12:22:43 PM
Mrs Fried is right.  Thee stupid and  sh... by Mark Sashine on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 12:49:00 PM
“Now,  Mr. Murphy here can whine about ... by Tom Murphy on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 1:44:00 PM
and I did not  use the word 'troll&#... by Mark Sashine on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 2:14:06 PM
The term "troll" is actually a truncatio... by Tom Murphy on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 2:50:52 PM
I am impressed on re-reading Amy Fried's artic... by ladyguru on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 4:21:49 PM
Progressives have long tried to explain to the ele... by steve scheetz on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 6:58:30 PM
and I agree about Clintons. It is a matter of ... by Mark Sashine on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 7:15:46 PM
Not sure what you're referring to with "b... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 7:29:36 PM
How quickly people forget...  If people can&#... by steve scheetz on Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 9:12:55 AM
Keep people in a state of fear...  You are ab... by steve scheetz on Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 9:21:19 AM
I thought you were referring to Waco, but wasn'... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 2:38:52 PM
Politicians decided that it was a good thing that... by steve scheetz on Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 6:29:23 PM
Janet Reno was NEVER out of the loop...  It w... by steve scheetz on Thursday, Jan 17, 2008 at 9:50:46 AM
I don't really want to argue the ins and outs ... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Thursday, Jan 17, 2008 at 2:40:54 PM
It is obvious from all accounts that Dems are fill... by steve scheetz on Thursday, Jan 17, 2008 at 4:12:45 PM
Again, you're missing the point. There are man... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Thursday, Jan 17, 2008 at 6:43:12 PM
"This behavior gives a glimpse of how Huckabe... by steve scheetz on Thursday, Jan 17, 2008 at 9:58:07 PM

 

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