Wednesday, July 05, 2006

AND IF TEDDY ROOSEVELT WERE ALIVE TODAY, HE'D BEAT YOUR SORRY ASS. This National Review/Heritage Foundation examination of a book on William Jennings Bryan proceeds just as you might expect: the reviewer hates everything about Bryan except the faith-based ignorance the Great Commoner embraced at the Scopes Trial. The critic even suggests that, were Bryan to return from the grave, he "would be supporting intelligent design and non-sectarian prayer in schools; criticizing his party’s embrace of abortion on demand; and favoring the constitutional protection of traditional marriage."

In other words, Bryan would be a typical cracker asshole, all notions of economic justice subsumed by common bigotries. I can understand why conservatives like to believe the worst of people -- the circumstances of their recent electoral successes would make any sensible person into a misanthrope -- but they really go too far when they bring the dead into in.

The critic goes on to say that unkind moden assessments of Bryan's Scopes performance "overlook something important: Bryan’s opposition to Darwinism encompassed a deep concern about the corrupting influence of materialism and modernism on society and intellectual life." He maintains that Scopes Bryan, rather than Cross-of-Gold Bryan, is the model Democrats should be following.

I detect the makings of a pattern. Just a few posts back we saw the boys at The American Scene telling women to fight "the imperialism of economic life" by returning to unsalaried childcaring and housework. Rightwing thinktank types, who never have to repeat their absurdities into the astonished faces of real people, may be test-marketing amongst themselves the idea that by opposing conservatives, liberals are betraying their own true heritage -- i.e., fighting "materialism" and "imperialism" and such like.

We have already examined the Perublican schtick, whereby wingers crocodile-teared-up at the sad state of a Democratic party too weak to save Republicans from their own baser natures. Maybe the poindexterati now feel that, while this routine was fine right after the 2004 election, when everyone was talking about how vestigial the Democratic Party was with its measly 49% of the vote, there is enough evidence of outright popular disgust with the Republican Government that tales of Democratic impotence may no longer convince.

So the New Idea is that the Democrats stand against their own best traditions when they champion reproductive rights, separation of church and state, etc. Presumably, the target voter is meant to feel shocked and appalled, and revert to the Republicans, who cannot betray their principles, having for several decades had none at all.

Will it work? Considering what they're gotten away with in the past, it's certainly worth a try.

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