OFF THE GRID

Have Boring Liberals Created the Transfixing Right?

Feb 19, 10 | 7:51 AM   byMichael Wolff
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The Democrats are reasonably intelligent, overly bureaucratic, statist-oriented policy fetishists, who are bad at communicating their best intentions and at selling their positions.

The Republicans, or, at least, those at the vanguard of the Republican party, are exhibitionists and extreme self-promoters (if not pure show business figures), some with sociopathic aspects (addictions, paranoid fantasies, etc), many with sui generis talents for public emoting, virtually none of whom could plausibly be elected to high office.

The former is stultifying and invariably disappointing, the latter just counter-programming.

But other than lacking plausibility, the right wing is clearly on the march. Glenn Beck, among the most extreme of the lot, is now beginning a promotional tour which is a de facto political campaign.

There is no better political story than the strangeness, the inappropriateness, and the ludicrousness of the Republican Party right now. A year ago, the explanation for Republican weirdness would have been that the Democrats' great success meant that the serious members of the Republican party had decided not to waste their efforts. But now, with the Democrats faltering in so many regards, the Republicans have become ever more bizarre (birthers, truthers, and tea party adherents).

While it is still hard to imagine any of them ultimately being elected to anything, they are, obviously, getting an inordinate amount of attention, as well as, for some, great wealth.

Sometimes I think they get all this currency not just because of the reactionary and moronic element in the country, but, even more so, because liberals, being so turgidly literal, have taken right-wing performance art seriously.

Glenn Beck, I’ll bet, is as surprised as anyone to find himself as a leading opposition figure in America. These absolutely implausible people have become, if not credible, not to be denied. And curiously, their base gets smaller and older. The unreconstructed white man, upon whom the right depends, is being quickly replaced. And yet his influence seems to grow.

It is—it has to be—a liberal failing.

Liberals are so self-serious, so emotionally attenuated, they have so deadened language and humor, have so replaced ideas with a failure to be able to express them, that they command, perforce, an alternative.

It is the nature of counter-programming to be more brazen, to have more fun, to take more risks, to be more peculiar and more compelling.

Which is how the nutters start to win.

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