By the time George W. Bush showed up, few really gave a damn about communism anymore. The teabaggers seem to find some talismanic power left in the old accusation, but no one else seems especially freaked out by the charge. It's just an absurd anachronism, like accusing someone of being a witch.
So the right went with something a little broader. The new fear was terrorism, not creeping communism, and it was this that became the new tool of McCarthyism. At that point, Sarah Palin hadn't shown up yet, so no one had yet realized that there were people stupid enough to believe an accusation of actual terrorism. So they had to go with implied terrorism -- terrorists undoubtedly hate America, so you accuse political opponents of doing the same. And what was America? America was the president -- at that time George W. Bush. Criticize George W. Bush and you automatically hate America.
The example that pops into my head is that of a country music band in 2003.
Music superstars the Dixie Chicks are finding out that criticizing President Bush's plans for war in Iraq can cost you air play, big time.
Country stations across the United States have pulled the Chicks from playlists following reports that lead singer Natalie Maines said in a concert in London earlier this week that she was "ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."
Station managers said their decisions were prompted by calls from irate listeners who thought criticism of the president was unpatriotic.
The band's great crime was criticizing the president overseas in a time of war. It was treason. It was the worst thing since 9/11. It was proof that the Dixie Chicks hated America -- just like Bin Laden. People burned Chicks' CDs, ran them over with steamrollers in big protests, shot them skeet-shooting style with shotguns. This struck me as kind of a pointless protest; after all, if I'm selling CDs, what do I care what you do with them? You bought it, do what you want. In fact, if you want to buy a few more and light them on fire, I'd be more than happy to sell you all you need.
Keep in mind that this is just a band. All they really did was please the crowd (the war was incredibly unpopular abroad and in London especially). But George W. Bush was president, it was a "time of war," and that meant that the Dixie Chicks hated America.
So how are we to explain this?
Talking Points Memo:
An interesting pattern has been emerging in the Republican Party's handling of foreign policy: Individual GOP officials are now making a regular point of not only formulating an alternative foreign policy, to be presented to the American people and debated in Congress -- they're acting on it too, and undermining the official White House policies at multiple turns...
In other words, Republicans are going overseas to criticize the president in a time of war; i.e., the worst thing ever. And this isn't just some country band talking smack about the president, these are Republicans going overseas and actively undermining US foreign policy.
For example, Sen. Jim DeMint's trip to Honduras. Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was thrown out in an illegal military coup. But, since Zelaya is a leftist, DeMint supports the coup. The US government -- along with most governments -- don't recognize the junta in Honduras as a legitimate government, but DeMint has decided that he needs to go on a "fact-finding" mission to visit the junta and see what's up. It's a "fact-finding" mission on the taxpayer's dime.
"We understand that you received visitors from our Congress who represent the minority party, the Republican Party, who have expressed views that differ markedly from those of President Obama’s administration and the Democratic Majority in the US Congress," wrote six members of the House of Representatives to the president of the Honduran Congress. DeMint is actively undermining US diplomacy and foreign policy with his trip. For the record, the Senate doesn't set foreign policy -- and certainly not a member of the minority party -- the State Department does. And the State Department is an office within the executive branch.
Want more? How about House minority whip Eric Cantor going to Israel to criticize the White House's stand on Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands? Or Sen. Jim Inhofe's plans to be part of a "truth squad" to the upcoming climate change conference in Copenhagen? There, he'll engage in global warming denial and "tell foreign officials there that the American government will not take any action" on the issue.
How about Rep. Mark Kirk, who went to China and told officials there "that the budget numbers that the US government had put forward should not be believed?"
If the Dixie Chicks hated on America by making an anti-war, anti-Bush statement to a crowd in an anti-war, anti-Bush town, what does it say when Republican elected officials go overseas and actively try to sink the president's efforts at diplomacy?
Am I saying that Republicans hate America? I guess not. To tell the truth, I don't know. I know they aren't too happy with this America and want to change it to another kind of America entirely, but that's just politics. What I am saying is that Republicans are shameless hypocrites here, in the same way that fellow Republican Joe McCarthy was all those years ago.
Why anyone takes these people seriously is beyond me. By engaging in behavior that is not only similar to that which they criticized in the past, but is also much, much worse, they show how much they really believed the things they were saying back in 2003 -- i.e., they didn't believe it at all. It, as McCarthyism always is, was just a political tool, used cynically and brutally to ruin their political opponents. The Dixie Chicks were supposed to be the heads on a pike, warning others of the danger of "hating America." Luckily, it didn't work out that way.
But the next time you hear some wingnut idiot or some talk radio moron yelling that "X hates America," you go ahead and send them to this post. They're chumps, being fooled into hypocrisy, by people who -- in the end -- don't give a damn about them. They're useful to Republicans only so long as they can be counted on to have the memory of a gnat.
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