Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Clarifying Patterns

posted by Armadillo Joe

In re-reading my last post, wherein I went from reciting the particulars about some 1950's-era right-wing nutballs having a collective boner for Chinese General Chiang Kai-Shek to my usual rant about the enduring aristocracy we've inherited down through the ages and their political agency via the exploited membership of the Rethugli-goon coalition of slack-jawed goobers, race-warriors, patricians and Bible-thumpers then leading into a final denunciation of James von Brunn, I realized that the post just didn't make much sense.

I blame it on the fact that I am reading Pearlstein's book about Goldwater and thus was able to draw conclusions based on some facts not in evidence.

Here's what I meant:
From the late 1940's through Eisenhower's second term, the right-wing in America was in a state of flux and complete disarray for three reasons relevant to this blog post.

First, the largest and most geographically homogeneous horde of the most virulent and unrepentant "wingnuts" (as we now call them) -- just the kind of staunch, stalwart ideologues that are the life-blood of a political party -- were the racist southerners in the Democratic Party . However, being hidebound to Tradition, those same "Dixiecrats" hadn't been able to vote for the Party of Lincoln for more than a century, no matter how far to the left FDR pulled the Dems. It seemed the GOP had little hope in the 1950's of ever getting them to switch sides, en masse.

Second, because the President is the leader of his party, with Eisenhower the GOP found itself headed by a man of indeterminate political alignment, but definitely a centrist in the most bi-partisan, consensus-oriented way possible. After WW2, Ike had been courted by both parties but chose the GOP, who rewarded him with the 1952 nomination after a backroom deal ousted the fire-breathing wingnut Bob Taft of Ohio, who had the superior delegate count and the support of the hard-core Republican right-wing, the same jingoistic, iconoclastic and paranoid right-wing that had incubated and then supported the delusional Joe McCarthy and also founded the John Birch Society in the 1950's. Because the party was knocked on its heels after the breaking of the McCarthy-era fever, the iron-hard, coal-black heart of the American right-wing had no real home in the party of Eisenhower and FDR's New Deal coalition made the Democrats anathema, despite the presence of Dixiecrats.

Third, the events immediately following WW2 through the early 1950's -- from the parceling out of Europe between the victorious allies leading to the ringing down of Stalin's Iron Curtain to the Rosenberg's espionage trial and the Soviet's H-Bomb to the People's Revolution in China to the firing of MacArthur (by a Democrat!) while he waged war against the Red Menace -- all convinced the right-wingers that commies and pinkos were everywhere in America, even the Oval Office, and the end of their vision of America was near. Then as now, they saw the world in starkly Manichean terms, thus whoever was not openly, loudly and unquestionably in their corner was probably a Communist sympathizer (or "ComSymp", in the lingo of the day). Whoever was openly battling commies was, no matter any expressed opinions to the contrary nor verifiable affiliation of the combatants, a hero. Hence, their lionization of Chiang Kai-Shek, who struggled against that dirty commie Mao with no support from the United States, which proved that the U.S. Government was infiltrated with communists from top to bottom.

In my fevered imagination, the treatment of Kai-Shek by a certain group of right-wing fruit-loops in the 1950's reminded me of how Ahmed Chalabi was feted and revered by the neo-cons throughout the 1990's and into the early Bush Administration -- nursing a grudge about Iraq and Saddam as enduring and nasty as the right-wingers sixty years ago did about China and Mao -- not because of anything related to the actual truth of actual facts on the ground, but the perceived alignment of appearances and declarations with a predetermined set of political and cultural orthodoxies. In turn, that willful mispercetion of reality warped our politics and led us into disaster in Korea and Vietnam -- the repercussions of which I need not explain to this audience -- the parallels of which should be obvious to our current predicament in the Middle East, with untold consequences for generations to come.

China = Iraq
Chairman Mao = Saddam
Kai-Shek = Chalabi
quagmire in Vietnam = quagmire in Iraq
right-wing violence in the 1950's & 1960's = right-wing violence in the 1990's and today

That's what I meant. You know, parallels.

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