Wackos

by Henry on January 21, 2006

This Financial Times article (sub required) has a quote from an email written by Michael Scanlon, former bagman for Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff, which sums up the modern Republican party in two sentences.

Michael Scanlon … explained the strategy in an e-mail to a tribal client. “Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them,” he wrote. “The wackos get their information [from] the Christian right, Christian radio, e-mail, the internet and telephone trees.”

Fundamentalist wackos, stirred up by cynical political operators in it for the money. Not a pretty picture.

{ 37 comments }

1

california_reality_check 01.21.06 at 3:55 pm

Well, sure the more moderate wingnuts are just blood thirsty, money grubbing opportunists. They know how to manipulate their religious base. I think the psychological term is sociopath.

http://cernigsnewshog.blogspot.com/2005/11/you-dont-have-to-sociopath-to-be.html

2

sd 01.21.06 at 4:15 pm

As opposed to the modern Democratic party, which never, ever uses grassroots organizing to energize the segment of the party with beliefs furthest from the mainstream of politics, all the while trying to present a moderate face to the media.

3

yabonn 01.21.06 at 4:17 pm

Even Scanlon’s mail is still spin, i think.

This is not, imho, the history of clever right wing people puppetering wackos for their own interests, as much as of the wackos successfully dragging the whole political landscape to them.

It seems Scanlon ‘s reasonable republican masterminds are so sekrit no one ever sees them, that they have no influence on the decisions taken, on the political discourse, or on anything at all.

4

california_reality_check 01.21.06 at 4:41 pm

yabonn – So, they are ALL wackos? No, I don’t think so. But, the problem is that most of these folks have been brought up beliving in a strong master and that discipline is king. One shall not challenge authority, etc, etc. I would liken them to drones. When they are encountered one on one they seem likeable enough. Until their religion is threatened by a new idea. We are ALL in trouble while these extreme elements fight it out.

5

abb1 01.21.06 at 4:42 pm

Ooop, tried to comment as ‘Robert Kagan’ again. Sorry.

6

SomeCallMeTim 01.21.06 at 4:46 pm

On the plus side, it appears that we can now claim “wackos” as a term of art referencing fundamentalists.

7

abb1 01.21.06 at 4:48 pm

Anyway: Jared Diamond calls it “kleptocratic religion”, religion designed specifically for this very purpose – for the elite to enrich themselves above any reasonble limit by using these brainwashed wackos. The oldest trick in the book, apparently.

8

nick s 01.21.06 at 4:51 pm

Even Scanlon’s mail is still spin, i think.

Well, Team JackOff was playing both sides, given that Abramoff described the tribes as ‘morons’, ‘monkeys’ and ‘troglodytes’. Scanlon had to ask what ‘troglodyte’ meant; Abramoff replied ‘What am I, a dictionary? :) It’s a lower form of existence, basically.’ [smiley as per original email]

9

california_reality_check 01.21.06 at 5:14 pm

“kleptocratic religion” – I like it.

10

yabonn 01.21.06 at 5:26 pm

So, they are ALL wackos? No, I don’t think so.

No, no rather they like, have no opposition to the wackos.

My point was rather that it’s the wackos that are important, defining the political discourse, the general orientation, etc.

Scanlon proposes the not-wackos as the clever, manipulating ones with the last laugh. Back in the real world, where political decision have meaning, and where the political landscape drifts rightward, the wackos are the driving ones.

11

abb1 01.21.06 at 5:32 pm

No, the wackos are not driving anything, they are indeed being easily manipulated to support just about anything from ‘we don’t do nation building anywhere’ to ‘we build democracies everywere’.

12

yabonn 01.21.06 at 6:04 pm

No, the wackos are not driving anything

I’d prefer that option, maybe i’m too pessimistic.

It’s true that they don’t have a fixed idea on many subjects. But they have strong distases, and my impression is that they are shaping the political/social according to these. Homophobia is more or less mainstream, i heard some noises around abortion etc, etc.

If Scanlon was right, we’d just see the usual repubs in power, with the wackos in a leash. I think that despite what Scanlon says, the wackos are playing the tune now.

A test (i don’t know enough to take it) : compare Bush, or the u.s. under Bush with the republican administration of your choice. Feels different, or what?

13

abb1 01.21.06 at 6:45 pm

Even in the realm of social policies they are easily controlled, turned from anti-semitism to extreme philo-semitism, for example. If they were told by their leaders that homosexuals are loved by god (or something) – they would turn around in a second. And it has been already suggested by their “morality czar” William Bennett that aborting black babies might not be such a bad idea, so there goes their “culture of life”. They are very flexible indeed.

14

Steve 01.21.06 at 8:34 pm

Pepsi has 47% of the market. Coke has 53% of the market.
In order to become top dog, Pepsi decides on a new marketing campaign; Coke drinkers are wackos, close-minded religous zealots, morally degenerate, and psychologically ill. The thinking being: if we insult them enough, maybe they’ll buy our product instead!

I love Michael Moore. I love MoveOn.org. I love posts like these. It gives me great hope for the future; anyone as tone-deaf as this has absolutely no chance of regaining control of government for a long, long time.

Steve

15

yabonn 01.21.06 at 8:49 pm

Even in the realm of social policies they are easily controlled, turned from anti-semitism to extreme philo-semitism,

More like philo-likudnikism, but i see your point.

20 more years and i’ll be sure :)

Coke drinkers are wackos, close-minded religous zealots, morally degenerate, and psychologically il

Apparently, Scanlon and Abramoff struck a nerve.

16

Walt Pohl 01.21.06 at 9:10 pm

Steve, the Republican party came to power by demonizing liberals. I notice that you have failed to publically criticize this strategy. Now that you are on the receiving end of the same kind of criticism that your side has so long dished out, at least have the courage to take it like a man.

17

djw 01.21.06 at 10:02 pm

Steve, you’re not paying attention. The appropriate analogy to the subject of this post would be Coke execs calling their own customers wackos, and a Pepsi partisan taking note of this fact.

But your final point is assuredly correct–I expect it will be quite some time before Michael Moore and Henry Farrell are jointly running the country.

18

almostinfamous 01.22.06 at 2:16 am

steve, you forgot to mention that MM is fat. this kind of sloppy posting is not what the republican media machine pays you for.

19

Bob B 01.22.06 at 3:30 am

On “fundamentalist wackos” in Britain, try this hair raising report in local press of the traumas inflicted on a family when professional social services officials working for local government uncovered a case of what they believed was “satanic abuse”::

“SHOCK waves reverberated round the Langley estate this week as residents tried to come to terms with the revelations of the suffering of the parents and children involved in the false allegations of satanic abuse more than 15 years ago. . . Parker – a former Manchester City Council social services official – said: ‘I was a very new councillor in Rochdale at the time. I was approached by Langley councillors Kevin Hunt and Tony Heaford. They said that something was going very badly wrong and they were on the wrong track.’ He said it was apparent that the two social workers involved were fundamentalist Christians and that could be affecting their judgement. . . . “
http://www.middletonguardian.co.uk/news/s/208/208322_satanic_abuse_town_in_shock_.html

Not to worry:

“A Vatican-backed college is launching a new course for exorcists – Roman Catholic priests who cast out evil spirits from the possessed. . . “
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4272689.stm

20

y81 01.22.06 at 8:24 am

Is Henry claiming that Brian Leiter and the rest of his academic lefty pals (a) are the voice of reason and (b) relish public scrutiny? Is he claiming that people from a milieu which spent most of the later 20th century apologizing for slave labor camps and killing fields have some sort of moral standing to criticize people like me? I’m strangely unmoved.

21

Barry 01.22.06 at 8:40 am

Just to pile on here; Steve – are you totally ignorant of the USA during the whole Clinton administration?

22

1MaNLan 01.22.06 at 8:41 am

The political right wing can UNLEASH the religious right wing…but they can’t CONTROL the relgious right wing. Come to think of it, they can’t even control their own greed and malfeasance.

23

Jerry Garcia's Middle Finger 01.22.06 at 9:52 am

“kleptocratic religion” : repetitive redundancy.

24

Walt Pohl 01.22.06 at 10:33 am

Y81: Always quick with the unsupported sneer. We opposed the Soviet Union long before you were born. You would know that, if you knew any history. But like the rest of your ilk, you are mercifully free of that burden.

25

Henry 01.22.06 at 11:17 am

bq. The appropriate analogy to the subject of this post would be Coke execs calling their own customers wackos, and a Pepsi partisan taking note of this fact.

There’s a rather close real-life analogy to this – the notorious “incident”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/2010949.stm where Gerald Ratner, proprietor of a discount jewellery chain, described his own product as “total crap” at a tradeshow. “Doing a Ratner”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3199822.stm is now a term of art in UK business journalism. But where the analogy breaks down is that Ratner’s customers took note, and stopped buying at his shops, wiping UKP 500 million from the value of the company, and eventually forcing it to change its name. Steve and y81, who are customers for the brand under discussion in this post, seem to be adopting a somewhat different approach. Interesting.

26

Ron F 01.22.06 at 11:59 am

Bob B,

For “fundamentalist wackos” in Britain you need look no further than Education Secretary Ruth Kelly and her spiked garter and self flagellation in the name of a right-wing Christian cult.

That said, I don’t suggest you actually look, since the sight is probably quite repulsive.

27

Bob B 01.22.06 at 12:50 pm

ron f,

I think you may have it wrong. By this report, Lord Adonis is being lined up as the agreed official scapegoat for the deemed failures of the government’s schools white paper and Tony Blair’s flagging credibility:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/01/22/nadonis22.xml&sSheet=/portal/2006/01/22/ixportal.html

Ruth Kelly will escape.

The schools debate is starting to look really exciting from a detached spectator’s perspective but the schools issue doesn’t detract from the shame of the traumas inflicted on families in the early 1990s by professional social workers intent on witch hunts for satanic abuse.

The BBC has engaged in an acclaimed piece of investigative journalism to bring to light what happened in one town but that, sadly, was far from being the only or even the most egregious instance. The local council implicated sought an injunction to prevent the broadcast of the programme but (fortunately) failed to convince the judge.

Allegations of satanic abuse imply criminal acts so the police were bound to investigate each case. In no case did police investigations actually uncover evidence that they considered would have been suffciently credible to withstand cross examination in criminal trials. The downstream outcome therefore was that a series of families were destroyed, supposedly for alleged criminal activities that were never brought to trial.

After that debackle, Munchausen’s Syndrome By Proxy became the next fashionable charge made against families, in that case by academic physicians:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/medical_notes/3528517.stm

28

Marcus Stanley 01.22.06 at 6:40 pm

“Pepsi has 47% of the market. Coke has 53% of the market.”

That may be true, but the last election between Bush and Kerry was 51-49 Bush.

29

fishbane 01.23.06 at 2:50 am

William Bennett that aborting black babies might not be such a bad idea, so there goes their “culture of life”. They are very flexible indeed.

Please don’t be as dishonest as some on the right are – by any fair reading, that isn’t what Bennett said. Unless you want to escalate the political battle, this sort of thing is Not Good. And if you do, well, I suppose I’m going to have to take a different side.

30

abb1 01.23.06 at 3:02 am

“…I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.”

Isn’t he saying that as a policy this idea does have some merits?

31

Mike 01.23.06 at 6:47 am

Steve,

Shhhhhhhhhh! Jeez, waddaya tryin to do? Clue these people in! When they’re making so much progress in the “trainwreck/self destruction” department.

Seriously tho – your comments are spot on accurate. Adding to them if I may. Not only does the “marketting campaign” fail completely to attract “coke drinkers”. It’s so embarassingly pedantic that it’s managed to cause some “pepsi drinkers” to not want to associate themselves with that product anymore.

32

nick s 01.23.06 at 7:20 am

Seriously tho – your comments are spot on accurate.

Sadly, ‘mike’, you’re not helping disprove Scanlon’s point.

33

Grand Moff Texan 01.23.06 at 11:34 am

Yes, abb1, but the conventional wisdom that was distributed immediately after the gaffe told us his comments have been taken out of context.

Having read said context, it makes no difference.

Fundamentalist wackos, stirred up by cynical political operators in it for the money. Not a pretty picture.

I believe the formula is “fools and millionaires,” but yes. I can only imagine that when political consultants saw the whackos giving millions to frauds the consultants realized the whackos could be ripped off for their votes, too.

Hey, at least that way they’re good for something.
.

34

james 01.23.06 at 1:15 pm

So much wrong; so little time.

Marcus Stanley – The 2004 election Bush 62,040,610 (50.7%) Kerry 59,028,111 (48.3%)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._presidential_election,_2004

walt pohl – Some prominent individuals with left leaning beliefs where apologist for the Soviet Union during the early 20’s. Example: Walter Duranty, a New York Times Journalist, won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting which covered up the mass starvation of 12 million Ukrainian peasants.

The arguments seem to be built around finding the strangest individual or small group associated with an idea or viewpoint. Then tarring everyone with similar ideals based on the actions of the small subset. Continuing with this process it is apparent that the left is willing to starve a vast number of people to ensure socialized medicine. Equally strange, the right is willing to gas a vast number of people to bring the end of the world. Somehow neither of these views seems convincing.

35

Urinated State of America (M.A. Cantab) 01.23.06 at 5:54 pm

“In order to become top dog, Pepsi decides on a new marketing campaign; Coke drinkers are wackos, close-minded religous zealots, morally degenerate, and psychologically ill. The thinking being: if we insult them enough, maybe they’ll buy our product instead!”

Err, no. Read the article. Coke’s marketing department *know* that part of their target market is wackos. If they get the wackos to believe that drinking Pepsi is undermining ‘murkeria, then they can keep the sales figures up and collect those bonuses.

(Plus, of course, they can keep the little yapping clones who have no ideas of their own but just want to drink what seems to be on top, despite the revolting additive added into the mix.)

36

trotsky 01.23.06 at 9:00 pm

abb1 and Grand Moff Texan,

Which part of “impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible” didn’t you understand?

37

abb1 01.24.06 at 1:59 am

I didn’t say he advocated it. I only said he … oh, all right, all right.

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