Monday, September 12, 2005

Republican Wars 

No, this is not another discussion of Iraq, or Afghanistan, or the WOT, or about the several lunatic decisions taken by the DOD under Bush regarding tactical nuclear weapons, the so-called bunker busters, or as the Washington Post reported over the weekend, about their preemptive use.

All that is bad enough on its own. But underlying that narrowly expansive go-it-alone foreign policy are the Republican wars here at home.

Interestingly, it's been the right wing of American politics itself, which let us face it, is who the current Republican party represents most consistently, that was the first to use the term "war" to address societal conflicts. (Johnson's War on Poverty, though controversial, did not declare war on anything that any group of Americans actively supported) The most current obvious example, the often used term "the culture wars," but the term "war" has also been used by the right to describe what they claim to perceive as attacks on their values, hence the war against Christians, against people of faith, against religion in the public square, against the free market, against moral values, and on and on.

There's no real contradiction here; from Newt Gingrich in his days as the sage of after hours Special Orders on C-Span, to apostate liberals like Charles Krauthammer and Mickey Kaus, to media analysts like Brent Bozell to conservative media stars like Ann Coulter to everyone at The Corner to the multiple strategists of the RNC to columnists like Michael Barone, John Leo, and the new-to-the-party John Tierney, to all the multiple representatives of the Christian right, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, et al, the charge has always been that it was they who were forced into an attack mode by a ruthless, powerful coalition of elitist liberals who control the universities, the press, and much of government bureaucracy (see state and federal employee unions).

Whether or not any of these people believe their own "bull" on this subject, their attempts to argue there exists a coherent left/liberal/Democratic movement, coordinated and institutionalized, that is constantly on the political attack in order to preserve a secular, internationalized, multi-culti America, have been shown by various writers, journalists (though fewer of those) and academics, to be pitifully lacking in evidence or credibility, despite the Herculean efforts of David Horowitz.

However, the push-back against liberalism, against the Democratic Party, against various intitutions that only decades ago had seemed completely mainstream, like public education for instance, and social security, the conscious attempts to shred the social safety net and redefine the social contract that emerged after World War 2, that rise of a hard-right conservatism, claiming to represent the center, but on the attack against every advance of freedom, democracy, civil rights begun in the sixties, the attacks on constitutional interpretations that date back to Theodore Roosevelt and FDR, all that does lend itself to the metaphor of war.

None of this is new to anyone reading this blog. However, only one journalist I'm aware of has had the insight and the confidence and the nerve to call what this Republican Party does when it's on the attack against inconvenient facts, inconvenient counter arguments, or inconvenient people, "war."

Chris Mooney succeeds in making the metaphor stick in his just published book, "THE REPUBLICAN WAR AGAINST SCIENCE," which, if you think about it for a moment, is a startling achievement.

We were lucky enough to get an advance copy of the book; Chris, a journalist who also blogs, was generous in his outreach to bloggers, and rightly so, because it's blogtopia (a phrase coined first by skippy, the bush kangaroo) that has the power to offer an important book like this the kind of support that is axiomatic for anything written by anyone on the right.

We had intended to review the book and discuss its importance just as Katrina hit. What we have to say about Chris's book has actually expanded watching the actions and inactions these first days of September. The time finally seems right, so for the rest of the week, we'll be talking about why this is such a terrific book, how it fits into the political struggle we all feel we're engaged it heading into 2006, and how and why we must all support it and its author.

You may think you know all there is to know about this subject, and clearly there's no mystery as to whether, or even how much we liked this book, but trust me, there is gold in it for those of us who are determined to take our country back from the right-wing extremists who don't represent the American mainstream and are determined to keep us divided to further their own political interests.

HEADS UP: Chris Mooney is scheduled to appear on tonight's Daily Show; don't miss it.

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