The conservative movement's death wish

Conservative lion, adulterer, and all around mensch Dinesh D'Souza decided to get into the Tweet machine and send off a Tweet—since deleted—about what he was grateful for this Thanksgiving.
I am thankful this week when I remember that America is big enough and great enough to survive Grown-Up Trayvon in the White House!
When a storm of feces descended upon him in response, he, for a moment, struck a defiant pose, in another since-deleted tweet:
Feigned outrage on the left over me calling Obama ‘grown up Trayvon’ except that Obama likened himself to Trayvon!
Now, Mr. D'Souza is a graduate of Dartmouth, so one would think he had some basic research skills. What President Obama actually said was that if he had a son, "he'd look like Trayvon." Not that he, Obama himself, was Trayvon. Again, five seconds of Google time would have avoided quite a dust-up.

But that's neither here nor there. At some very early point, Mr. D'Souza came to the realization that the fellatio he was receiving from his "supporters" didn't quite outweigh the opprobrium raining down on him. So he did what any stalwart defender of conservative values would do: he deleted the offending Tweets, again proving that conservatives don't know how the Internet works.

D'Souza's flameout is just the most glaring example of a conservative movement which has no idea what it's doing or how to sell itself. From John Boehner fabricating a horror story about signing up for Obamacare—which went up in smoke when HIS OWN STAFF admitted that it took less than an hour to do so—to neo-conservative Defenders of Israel having their heads explode at the thought of no bombing on the ancient culture of Iran, the conservative movement, while not in its death throes, is doing not at all well.

Now, I'm not sanguine that conservatism will vanish with the autumn leaves. France had a revolution much more radical than ours, and a conservative movement exists there to this day, even a quasi-fascist nativist movement.

Of course, the difference between a mainstream conservative in Europe and what passes for a mainstream conservative in the US is quite glaring. Even the thorniest of Tories doesn't want to dismantle the National Health Service. There is a limit of acceptable discourse, and those who go beyond those limits are doomed to a gadfly existence.

Here in the US, however, it seems that in order to get any airtime you have to be more bat-crazy than the guy in the preceding segment. In any civilized society, the media would report that when conservatives say they want to repeal Obamacare, that what they actually mean is that they want to return to the system before the ACA, when consumers could be dropped when they got sick, lifetime caps doomed you to death, and millions had no access to the most basic of care. That is what would be reported on, rather than a glitchy website, as if the website were the totality of Obamacare.

But conservatives have gamed the system quite well. The media consolidation has put television news in the hands of mega-corporations, which have no love for liberalism. And the "liberal" media acts accordingly. Every once in a while a little truth gets through; that's just so that the demographic at which its aimed keeps tuning in in hope and expectation.

However, a funny thing is happening. Conservatives have forgotten how to play the game. Or rather, what passes for conservative now is so to the right that it no longer bears any relation to reality. Thus D'Souza tweets his tweet about President Obama being a grown-up Trayvon, and that the US must "survive" him. Thus Rush Limbaugh compares the nuking of the filibuster to allowing rape. Thus every half-assed thing which comes out of a conservative's mouth makes people who have some sense shake their heads in bewilderment.

At this point, it's as if conservatives can't help themselves. The fact that Obama has run rings around them in spite of their vigorous efforts has led to a psychotic break. Republicans fight Democrats with vile assertions. Republicans knife each other in purity contests. A strong, intelligent, black Democratic president who knows exactly what they're up to, and times his attacks for maximum effect, has put them flat on their backs. They're used to Democrats and liberals who are defensive. They're used to the triangulations of a Bill Clinton. Barack Obama's strength has sent them into a fugue state from which, as yet, they haven't been able to awaken.

No, "conservatism" won't die. But, with a bit of help, it can be reformed. It's going to get uglier before it gets better. Dinesh D'Souza is just an example of that ugliness. But the fact that he felt it necessary to delete his tweets does speak to something in the air. Perhaps we're finally establishing the broad parameters for a civilized discussion in the world's oldest democracy. It won't come a moment too soon.


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