One Thing That Has Changed

Just watched a clip of Bachmann on Hardball stating that they needed to “repeal” Obama and “repeal” the Senate, and one thing that is different from when I was a Republican is that they really are just that much dumber. Sure, the policies might have been bad, and I have no doubt that many of them were evil, and yes, there were some Dan Burton types shooting watermelons, but overall, the mean iq of the public face of the GOP has just plummeted in the last 5-7 years. What else is there to say about a party whose base honest to goodness thinks that closed captioning is a government plot to generate applause?

And again, I’m sure many of you will want to say “They were always this dumb.” They just weren’t though. It’s been a noticeable shift in both stupidity and meanness. Somehow or another they’ve managed to take the old stupid/evil continuum and figured out how to get stupider and more evil.

177 replies
  1. 1
    MattR says:

    And cue makoto-chan in 3 – 2 – 1

  2. 2
  3. 3
    schrodinger's cat says:

    It’s been a noticeable shift in both stupidity and meanness.

    May be the difference is, that the dumb and stupid are no longer just the followers but are leaders of the party and the elected office holders.

  4. 4
    cleek says:

    i’m sure the rank and file are the same as they’ve ever been. but the brazen and outspoken stupid are definitely the face of party.

    unfortunately, i don’t think that hurts them. not enough people pay close enough attention to this stuff to be able to tell when someone is being stupid on a given topic. if you don’t know the facts of the matter, the best presentation will win your support.

    and we all know how most Dems are at presentation.

  5. 5
    Maude says:

    No, they weren’t always like this. They used to try to persuade people to their side. There was a time when decorum was important in public.
    I think they just doing attention getting and don’t care about anything but themselfs.

  6. 6

    Repeal the Senate? What? Disband the whole body?

  7. 7
    Kilks says:

    As someone who’s young enough to not remember George H.W. Bush, its remarkable that a Republican president could have led the first Gulf War, something relatively well run and not a complete mess up.

  8. 8
    MobiusKlein says:

    We’re talking Ronald “We begin bombing in 5 minutes” Reagan, and Dan Quayle?

    I guess they make current conservatives look smart.

  9. 9
    Mark S. says:

    Oh, they’re a lot dumber. I think having to defend the Iraq War (and later torture) is what did it. Disclaimer: the Iraq War is what made me leave the GOP.

    It also seemed to me that most conservative writers back then would at least try to present arguments that would persuade non-conservatives. Now, they’ve got their wingnut welfare and their 27% base and just say fuck it. Just throw some red meat at the fuckers.

    I realize Bobo and Chunky Bobo still try to do this (however badly), but they are the exceptions. Hell, I remember when Krauthammer was distinguishable from a Townhall column.

  10. 10
    Gretchen D says:

    See Paul Krugman’s column on the Republican War on Logic for confirmation.

  11. 11
    Gretchen D says:

    See Paul Krugman’s column on the Republican War on Logic for confirmation.

  12. 12
    lamh32 says:

    Speaking of dumb…WTF! I mean, I barely have the words to express my disgust!

    Santorum On Obama & Abortion: ‘Almost Remarkable For A Black Man’ To Say We Can Decide Who’s A Person (VIDEO)

    I guess he means cause of that whole slavery thing…my Lord, my Lord…

    Dave Chappelle has a stand-up routine on how some things are SO racist, that all you can say is just

    “God Damn, That Was Racist”

  13. 13
    General Stuck says:

    When wingnuts don’t have a leader that can bridge the gap between social acceptability, and their ravenous ids, we get what we are seeing. They need an alpha dog with some manners. And don’t have one presently.

  14. 14
    alwhite says:

    I think a lot of the masses have always been this stupid. What as changed is that now many politicians are playing to their stupidity & encouraging even greater levels of stupid. Plus they have one news network fully engaged in spreading stupid and 6 others desperately trying to keep up.

  15. 15
    slag says:


    and we all know how most Dems are at presentation.

    I don’t buy it. I watched the Democratic National Convention in 2008. It was very good. And a lot of the Obama media campaign was a thing of beauty. Democrats can do presentation…when they exert themselves for a cause. Too bad the causes are often limited to elections.

  16. 16
    trollhattan says:

    Standard “feature, not bug” comment goes here. The smart ones are in positions of power and influence, not in politics. It’s easier to recruit and influence the dumb, paranoid & avaricious than smartypants ed-you-kated people.

    Now the California legislature has seen an IQ plunge in both parties, but that’s first due to term limits (although some of the Republicans in the statehouse are thunderously dumb even compared to their peers).

  17. 17
    Alex S. says:

    For me, there are the crazies and the meanies. Sarah Palin is one of the mean ones. Full of resentment, not even stupid, but unwilling to make use of her brain. Michelle Bachmann however, is one of the crazy ones. It’s just so over-the-top you can’t take her seriously. In fact, I don’t even want Michelle Bachmann to go, because she has got this unrivaled entertainment value. But Sarah Palin has got a plan and she is defiling society with her actions.
    Maybe the combination of the stupid and the mean is something completely new.

  18. 18
    My Truth Hurts says:

    No, John, they were. Trust us.

  19. 19
    cathyx says:

    Think about what media personalities were the face of the republican party then versus now. I think that if the general talk and written word has been taken over by fox news and the idiot columnists of today, you will have stupider people following along because now they can follow along. Before, the discourse went above their heads.

  20. 20
    HyperIon says:

    Yeah, they are dumber and meaner now.

    But they were still pretty dumb and mean back when you were one of their devotees.

  21. 21
    Hannity Hussein says:

    You can call them dumb.
    You can call them morans.
    But they keep getting reelected.

    This is America

    get used to it.

  22. 22
    jeff says:

    I find it instructive that I now fumble with words when I try to tell someone that a colleague or friend is a Republican. I have to add immediately all kinds of qualifiers like “not THAT kind of Republican” or “not Sarah Palin Republican” or “not Teabagger Republican” or “he’s a Rockefeller Republican” the last of which really doesn’t resonate with anyone alive today.

    I guess I should just say “he’s rich” and leave it at that.

  23. 23
    hilts says:

    The Republican Party is simply devolving back into primordial soup. If we were living in a sane society, Michele Bachmann would be a patient in a mental hospital.

  24. 24
    Hunter Gathers says:

    When the population at large rejects facts and intelligence, re-elects a barely literate wanna-be cowboy and embraces truthiness, shit like this happens. Which is easier, using facts and truth to back up your arguments, or speaking in redneck and yelling over everybody?

    The Idiocracy draws near.

  25. 25
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    This is what happens when your motto is: Il faut cultiver notre cesspool

  26. 26
    Alex S. says:


    Yeah, I tried to make sense of it, and I have concluded that Santorum thinks that the idea of personhood of an African-American is an indication of bad judgement.

  27. 27
    geg6 says:

    Just as there used to be reasonable Republicans, there used to be intelligent Republicans. I know this because I’m old enough to remember and have known some. Not so today. Today’s GOP is ground zero for the stupid and demented.

    This is why you will find “Nixonland” so illuminating. It’s when the strategy for attracting all the stupid and demented became operational (the Goldwater years were just tentative experimentation, IMHO). Nixon imprinted it into the GOP’s DNA, Reagan showed how it could work when you have a candidate who doesn’t come off as a mixture of Voldemort and Snidely Whiplash, and W was the crowning achievement. Palinism (or Bachmannism, if you prefer) is just the logical result.

  28. 28
    The Dangerman says:

    I’m missing something; the Republicans advocate “repeal and replace”. This bill only repeals. Why don’t they have a repeal and replace bill?

    /rhetorical questions

  29. 29
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    May be the difference is, that the dumb and stupid are no longer just the followers but are leaders of the party and the elected office holders.

    This. They know they’re the base, and they’re demanding that their ranks gain a higher percentage of actual leadership posts.

  30. 30
    cathyx says:

    I think that the intelligent republicans call themselves independents now.

  31. 31
    cleek says:

    the GOP does it 24/7/365.

    bringing it for 4 hours every 4th year is pretty weak.

  32. 32
    cmorenc says:

    @John Cole:

    One difference is that the leaders of the GOP have become ever more ruthlessly sociopathic in doing or doggedly maintaining with a straight face whatever it is they think they need to say or do to win an ideological power struggle for control of this country. They’ve misled masses of ordinary middle-class Americans into thinking their fundamental goals and interests are the same as the party leadership, and that democrats are hostile threats to the values and pocketbooks of working Americans, but their tactic of starting lots of cultural brushfires to scorch the fuel out from underneath the Democratic party, they’ve set off a huge wildfire in the Tea Party that is beyond their control, and are thus forced in part to appear to endorse talk that’s crazier than what they themselves truly believe. However, their sociopathic mindset and lack of integrity toward inconvenient facts has destroyed a significant part of their own bullshit-detecting ability. This is understandable when you keep in mind that their goal is for their control of the power structure, their way, with minimal interference for business and wealth, and the welfare of the general run of people in this country is NOT their concern.

  33. 33
    TR says:

    They are dumber now, but the meanness has been maxed out since Gingrich was distributing lists of synonyms for “traitor” that could be used against Democrats.

    Once again: I Miss Republicans.

  34. 34
    eyelessgame says:

    Here’s the thing.

    Ronald Reagan was not, himself, nearly as bad as we make him out to be. His rhetoric was horrible, but the way he governed was more moderate than his rhetoric.

    His rhetoric included both strategic and boneheaded misstatements, of course – I have a book of them on my shelf. The strategic misstatements were an early form of dogwhistle – he’d say some absurdly rightwingish thing, the talking heads would explain that he didn’t really mean that, of course, while all the rightwingers felt it made him One Of Them.

    But the thing about Reagan has always been this: he was an actor. He played the President in a movie. You can’t do what he did in real life. This is what Republicans today think — they really believe you can govern the way Reagan talked to them, boneheaded stupid statements and all.

    But there’s certainly the realization that has sunk into the R party that you can make statements as absurd as you want and Fawkes News will still be sympathetic – which means the rest of the news has to nod to them out of a misplaced professional courtesy, and treat these whoppers like it’s not nosebiting absurdity. (There’s also no longer a market for accurate reporting.)

    We are all Mayans now.

  35. 35
    piratedan says:

    well I shudder to think that its really any different, its just that we now have the three major networks and cable outlets like CNN, FOX, MSNBC and hell even the BBC to provide coverage and umpteen blogs offering perspective. So there’s more outlets to catch people saying something extraordinarily stupid these days.

    As for the gullibility of the American public, just think back to 10th grade social studies and remember who was paying attention back then. Who was teaching it and why. I think our problems start there and caused us to end up here.

  36. 36
    Elisabeth says:


    I’m guessing he’s referring to the whole 3/5 thingy. I think he’s trying to say it’s ironic that a black man, who at the founding of this country would have been only 3/5 a person, is now deciding what’s a person.

    He’s a nasty human being, Santorum not Obama, no matter what his argument.

  37. 37
    TR says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Because … shut up, that’s why!

    Republican campaign rhetoric expires the day after the election, largely because their base is too stupid to care about actual results aside from “kicking librul butt.”

    See also: their stupid pledge to cut $100 billion from the budget, their promise to focus on jobs, etc etc.

  38. 38

    So if Sarah Palin is stupid and mean and has a 27% following and people tend to go with politicians they agree with, does that mean that 27% of Americans are stupid and mean?


  39. 39
    lllphd says:

    most definitely a sea change. more like a tsunami, actually. tho i disagreed with goldwater and nixon, they were intelligent men who had a real grasp of the constitution.

    now, it’s as if – as another refugee from the republicans told me in the late 90s – they’ve been invaded by aliens.

  40. 40
    NeenerNeener says:

    I’d like to interrupt this discussion to thank Cleek for adding to Makewi’s pie topics.

  41. 41
  42. 42
    lllphd says:

    ok, clunky site alert!

    in my previous post, there was no intention to strike the last five words. i deliberately put a dash, which worked at the beginning of the sentence, but tried twice to edit the erroneous strike, and it wouldn’t let me.

    not my fault! (the p is for palin!)

  43. 43
    slag says:

    @cleek: I agree that it’s pretty weak. But presentation is all Republicans do. It’s their governing philosophy. Democrats don’t have that luxury.

    I’m not saying that Dems couldn’t get better at presentation; I certainly don’t believe that. I’m just saying Dems can be good at it…when the put their energies behind it.

  44. 44
    dmsilev says:

    Yeah, they’ve definitely gone over the edge. Compare Bush father and son for a pretty stark demonstration of this.

    Along the same vein, in case anyone hasn’t seen it yet, The Onion has come up with what I believe is the most plausible scenario for Sarah Palin becoming President.


  45. 45
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    They were this dumb. They’re just more outspoken now.

  46. 46
    lllphd says:

    oh wow. and now i see that the corrections that did not register previously are there.

    and then i tried to post the second comment, and it told me 3 times i’d already posted, but the message stayed in the little box here.


  47. 47
    General Stuck says:

    The GOP ship was sinking fast, and suddenly there was a life preserver. It’s not their fault insane peeps held the rope. You dance with them who brought you. Their partners were holding Obama Witchdoctor Signs, but that was better than being whale shit on the bottom of the deep blue sea.

  48. 48
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    It’s kind of a Sorcerer’s Apprentice thing. They’ve relied on Limbaugh (and Beck and Palin and Coulter and….) to build their base, then the tools took over. I remember during Bush I and the early Clinton years. Limbaugh was starstruck and fawning when he was invited Washington for a photo-op. Now Congressmen kiss his ring and fall all over themselves to apologize when they offend him. Same thing now with Palin. Why people like Dick Lugar and Olympia Snowe choose to grovel before people like Jim DeMint and Jeff Sessions is beyond me, but that’s where we are.

  49. 49
    GregB says:

    Back then there was one Bob Dornan for every 100 Bob Michels. Now it is the just the opposite.

  50. 50
    BR says:

    Yeah, I’ll agree on that. Dole and Kemp weren’t idiots. And they generally weren’t that much of assholes either (compared to the GOP of today). Though they hired assholes, just like GOPers have been doing since Nixon, to do their dirty work, and ultimately it’s the outcome that matters, not the face in front.

    After all, even the most moderate members of the GOP vote the same as Gohmert and Bachmann and Barton.

  51. 51
    Cacti says:

    Methinks you’re just trying to excuse yourself, Cole.

    Dubya was an idiot back in 2000.

    Dan Quayle was a doofus in 1988.

    Reagan was a dim bulb in 1980.

    Gerald Ford was widely considered an intellectual lightweight in the 1970s.

    The GOP has been dumb at the top for a long time.

  52. 52
    BombIranForChrist says:

    I totally agree.

    The GOP has always had whackjobs, but there was a time when they were, as a whole, a legitimate and sane answer to the liberal left. I disagreed with a lot they had to say, but I at least felt like I was in an argument with people who cared about things like facts and mental stability.

    Now the GOP is just a circus act. There is no conservative party anymore. Our political system is now as follows:

    1. Liberals.
    2. Centrist Democrats.
    3. Clowns.

  53. 53
    My Truth Hurts says:

    I am 37. I grew up in an affluent, white conservative suburb of Chicago. My cousins on my Mom’s side all live in the Deep South. The Republicans of today are what I thought the Republicans who were around me growing up were; mean spirited, dumb, jingoistic, uncaring and racist. I personally see no difference today then to what I saw growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s.

    And really, can the question even be asked after you, John, and the rest of us went through the Clinton impeachment and other bullshit scandals of those 8 years? I’ve been hearing about fucking deficits since at least 1991. Same shit, different year.

    They’re nuts. They always have been. What’s changed isn’t them John, it’s you.

  54. 54
    Woodrowfan says:

    the smart ones have been driven out as RINOs. What’s left is mean and stupid…

  55. 55
    Maude says:

    Doesn’t matter, you still get a demerit. (sp?)

  56. 56

    @Hunter Gathers: I was coming here to say just this, but you’ve said it better than I would, so I will just say, THIS.

    When having intelligence and goodness is used as a sledgehammer to beat you with for 30+ years you can only expect the population as a whole to do its best to avoid book learning and compassion. Don’t want to be one of those poor fools now do you? Fear and paranoia wins elections. Facts just muddy the waters.

  57. 57
    BR says:


    That’s a classic. Everyone should read it if they haven’t.

  58. 58
    GeneJockey says:

    I agree with JC. I spent 10 years discussing politics with Conservatives on a Bowhunting forum, and it really, really has changed. 10 years ago, you could disagree with them, but still share a campfire, and you could still be friends.

    A couple things happened, and each time, they ratcheted up the rhetoric, and along with that, retreated more and more into indefensible, illogical positions which they increasingly claimed were the only possible position for Americans – REAL Americans – to hold.

    First 9/11, then the runup to the Iraq War, then the ACTUAL Iraq War, then Terry Schiavo – in each case the arguments grew hotter, the insults more personal (Did you know I’m the worst person in history? Worse even than Adolph Hitler? I shit you not!). Along the way, a number of intelligent, independently-minded folks who tended toward Conservatism objected to one thing or another and were subsequently labeled as Liberals, Commies, etc, and stopped posting.

    Then Obama was elected, and they REALLY lost their shit, so bad that I finally gave up.

    In 2000, there were a few crazies, but with most of the folks you could have a friendly argument. They respected facts, and would often stop making claims that were successfully refuted. Over the next decade, the guys who were fringe crazies came to dominate the board, squeezing out the reasonable types, who largely got disgusted and left. Those who remain are unswayed by facts, and will stick to their beliefs in the face of any counterevidence – indeed, facts and expertise were ridiculed.

    I think that’s a microcosm of the current Right – the progressive distillation of anger, stupidity, hate, and fear. Their leaders not only don’t suffer any stigma for making inarticulate, untrue, and just plain stupid arguments – no, in the current Right, that’s a mark of excellence!

  59. 59

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Is Lugar really gonna grovel before them? I don’t think so. Why would he? I think he’s the last non-batshit insane GOP’er left in the House/Senate.

  60. 60
    Steeplejack says:


    Linky no work. You fix.

    Oh, never mind. I fix.

  61. 61
    Mark S. says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    They’ve relied on Limbaugh (and Beck and Palin and Coulter and….) to build their base, then the tools took over. I remember during Bush I and the early Clinton years. Limbaugh was starstruck and fawning when he was invited Washington for a photo-op. Now Congressmen kiss his ring and fall all over themselves to apologize when they offend him.

    Agree 100%.

    And Coulter shouldn’t be downplayed too much, even though now even most goopers would agree she’s a clown. She proved that you could say the absolute most ridiculous shit and not be ostracized by the non-Fox media lest they be accused of “bias.”

  62. 62
    Maude says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:
    I had Nothing to do with the book club thing. I swear on a stack of bibles.
    We can skip that post.

  63. 63
    Malraux says:

    George Bush: Let me sum up. On track, stay the course. Thousand points of light.
    Diane Sawyer: Governor Dukakis. Rebuttal?
    Michael Dukakis: I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy!

    I just don’t buy that the republicans were ever not this dumb. Certainly not in my lifetime. Going back to my childhood, the public face of the republican party was a guy with some form of dementia. Since at least Reagan, the GOP has lived in and glorified stupidity.

    Good to know that blockquotes are still borked.

  64. 64
    Allan says:

    The Dominionist takeover of the GOP is almost complete. They celebrate stupidity, and are deeply, deeply evil.

  65. 65
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Phil Perspective: Maybe “grovel” overstates it, but I gather he retracted his call for a new assault weapons ban, and he’s been a loyal foot soldier in the filibuster strategy. A lot of this may be personality, he’s not a show-boater, especially as Senators go, but he’s definitely gone along with the drift to crazy.

  66. 66
    kdaug says:

    Don’t have time now to read the backthread here, but I will say that Cole’s saving grace is the ability to get out of the soup before it’s distilled into unrelenting bile.

    I mean that as a sincere complement, John. I know many others who haven’t been able to escape the whirlpool.

  67. 67
    Litlebritdifrnt says:


    What you said, someone who with a straight face can cite “socialist medicine” while being the recipient of said “socialist medicine” and can cite “welfare programs” while merrily accepting checks from the Farm “welfare programs” Subsidy programs. She is such a hypocrit it is not even funny.

  68. 68
    de stijl says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    George W. Bush is a case in point. During the run-up to the 2000 election, he was not noticeably dumb and inarticulate. He was even relatively okay in tough press conference type settings (except for the world leader quiz). By no means a silver-tongued smoothie with a rock solid command of the facts and his talking points, but he wasn’t a bottom of the barrel knuckle dragger by any means.

    Contrast 1999 W to late in his second term and you will notice a distinct difference both in the content of his speech, but also in the presentation. Barely able to stumble through a press conference without falling over and breaking his jaw.

    Pulling some random person off the street and putting him or her in front of the White House press corp, and chances are pretty high that she would perform at least as well as Bush. Presidentin’ is hard work and it seems to have knocked 20-30 IQ points off of President Bush’s previous total.

  69. 69
    SFAW says:

    cmorenc @ 31 has a lot of it right, I think. (Not yet sure about the brushfires metaphor.)

    But it basically boils down to: the Rethugs realized awhile ago that an educated voter is not their friend, and so they have done their best to dumb the country down, They’ve largely succeeded. For example, the voices bad-mouthing public schools far exceed, in both quantity and volume, the voices talking about its benefits, how it made America great, and so forth. Even the strong public schooling supporters usually insert some variation of the “now, I know it needs to be fixed” disclaimer.

    Add this to the overarching Rethug desire to obtain and maintain power and control, and their willingness to use any means necessary – lying, cheating, over-the-top propaganda, demonizing their opponents, etc. – to get there, and you end up with a power structure which caters (at some level) to the stupid and crazy. Not at every level, of course – they still have their corporate pals to take care of.

    I don’t think The Crazy Wing is running the Rethug party yet, but I think whoever is pulling the strings is OK with having a few nut jobs or outright stupid Reps/Sens on TV from time to time – it distracts the rubes, and keeps them mollified. Added to that is the idea that having a moron as Preznit legitimized the idea that it’s “OK to be stupid, and proud of it”. Hell, for most of the Rethugs, having someone intelligent like the Kenyan Usurper in office is to be met with scorn and derision, ’cause he ain’t like reg’lar people.

    I really really really hope the country comes to its senses before I die, because I want my kids to live in America, not Dumbfuckistan – which is what the Rethugs are trying to turn it into.

  70. 70
    tkogrumpy says:

    They (many of them) don’t really believe the shit they are peddling, they do however recognize the efficacy of fear and loathing as governing principles.

  71. 71
    jwb says:

    @cleek: The Dems, even Clinton who ran something of a perpetual campaign, still typically make a distinction between governing and campaigning, the GOP, not so much. But it’s also why the GOP is so poor at governing.

  72. 72
    Tsulagi says:

    I’m sure many of you will want to say “They were always this dumb.” They just weren’t though.

    I’d agree with you. Could toss in throwaway snark like “9/11 changed everything,” but as a point in time it seems that’s when stupid became fashionable and patriotic for too many Republicans. Freedom Fries anyone?

    It’s been a noticeable shift in both stupidity and meanness.

    That hasn’t gone unnoticed by all Republicans either. In DougJ’s post below I commented my dad no longer watches Fox News and he can’t stand Beck or Palin. I know and/or work with a bunch of Rs who are also getting a bit tired of their national leadership following the stupidest in their party.

    Go Bachmann in ’12!! Don’t let them repeal you!

  73. 73
    BettyPageisaBlonde says:

    @dmsilev: Bug report: that link doesn’t work. It’s malformed. Heh. I wrote malformed.


  74. 74
    Francis says:

    This is what you expect when one party is interested in governance and the other is interested in power. The Democrats move toward the right in order to compromise. Some Republicans defect and are targeted for primary challenges. Everyone else moves right, to keep the same distance from the Dems as before. Meanwhile work the press incessantly about the other guy’s unwillingness to compromise.

    Cycle this process every two years for 20 years or so and you get a group of Rs who believe that Dems are traitors, that compromise is betrayal and that ideas which were formerly acceptable (health insurance mandate) are now anathema.

  75. 75
    birthmarker says:

    There used to be some pushback in the press against some of the stupidest things. (Just a quick thing that comes to mind–the Reagan admin counting ketchup as a veggie in school lunches caused a pretty big brouhaha.) Now the pushback is such a small percentage of the controlled noise that there is no downside to stupid most of the time. Just put a bunch of lackeys out there to defend it.

  76. 76
    schrodinger's cat says:

    John Cole@top
    So John I have a question for you, what attracted you to the Republican party? I started reading this blog about 2 years ago so may be you have talked about it before and I have missed it. I am not being snarky, just curious.

    ETA: Missing Tunch, we haven’t seen him at all in this new year. How is the big white (with orange tail) kitteh?

  77. 77
    Texas Dem says:

    Two thoughts:

    1) Many, if not most of the moderate, pragmatic pols who used to keep the true believers from driving the party over the cliff (i.e., the Bennetts, the Castles, etc.) have been driven out of the party. The few who are left (i.e., Lugar, Hatch, etc.) are looking very vulnerable right now.

    2) That huge media infrastructure the GOP built up over the years (i.e., Fox News plus Talk Radio) has made the party incredibly lazy. Any argument, no matter how lame, unpersuasive or ridiculous, is broadcast to the world, so why bother to craft truly persuasive arguments or cultivate talented spokespeople?

  78. 78
    SFAW says:

    Heh. I wrote malformed.

    When the Rethugs take over all five branches of government, you’re going to Gitmo for that one.

  79. 79
    Gustopher says:

    Stupider, Eviller and Shamelesser.

  80. 80
    jwb says:

    @General Stuck: I disagree with this analysis, actually. Well, not so much disagree with your statement of the analysis, because I do think it captures quite a lot of how GOP pols reacted. But really if the GOP pols had just acted relatively sane, and obstructed without turning the crazy up to 11, they would have walked home with the election in 2010 based on the economy and the Dems inability to get their coalition to work effectively. And then they wouldn’t be in nearly the fix they are now.

  81. 81
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    George W. Bush is a case in point. During the run-up to the 2000 election, he was not noticeably dumb and inarticulate.
    To me, the moment that stands out from 2000 was when he sneeringly said Al Gore wanted to make Social Security ‘some kina /sneer/ federal program”, and the audience cheered. I thought the campaign was over, but it was just chalked up as another one of his adorable misstatements.

    Which leads to another point: We can’t ignore the dumbing down of the media as they became more insulated, more smugly complacent, more interested in personalities and “narratives” (especially their own) than facts and issues (see Russert, Tim, especially his should-be infamous response to Bill Moyers’ challenging of Russert’s credulity before administration sources: “I’m from Buffalo!”)

  82. 82
    Allan says:

    @de stijl: If you Google video of Sarah Palin’s gubernatorial debates in Alaska, when she was trying to sell herself to the state as a serious grown-up and principled reformer, you’ll also see a woman who, like Bush, appears to have gotten stupider during her time in the public eye, but is actually just cynically playing the stupid because it resonates with his/her base.

  83. 83
    CalD says:

    …I’m sure many of you will want to say “They were always this dumb.” They just weren’t though. It’s been a noticeable shift in both stupidity and meanness.

    It’s really true. I saw an item yesterday saying that quoted Bill Frist advising against trying to repeal affordable healthcare, and I couldn’t help reflecting on how Republicans keep trading down on their senate leadership: from Bob Dole, to Trent Lott, to Bill Frist, to Mitch McConnell…

    Where the bottom finally turns out to be I’m scared to guess. But at the point where you’ve got people driving your bus who make Bill Frist look like an adult, you’re obviously pretty far down the tubes already.

  84. 84

    @de stijl:
    Some of what you’re describing is probably a result of Bush not giving a shit toward the end of his term. I think he was understandably worn down and didn’t much like dealing with Democratic majorities in both houses, and just kind of gave up caring about doing a good job. I don’t think that’s a good excuse, but I think it was lack of effort rather than lack of intelligence that was his problem at the end.

  85. 85
    BR says:

    @de stijl:

    My wife suspects that Bush had an onset of Aphasia, which might account for his speaking ability going downhill from when he was govern’n.

  86. 86
    de stijl says:

    @Roger Moore:

    My theory is that he was semi-frequently robotripping as a replacement for that sweet, sweet booze and it eventually caught up with him.

  87. 87
    WereBear says:

    It has kind of twisted, scam-like beauty: Republicans claim government can’t do anything right, and whenever given power, proceed to prove it.

    I blame the people who fall for it.

  88. 88
    Brachiator says:

    And again, I’m sure many of you will want to say “They were always this dumb.” They just weren’t though. It’s been a noticeable shift in both stupidity and meanness. Somehow or another they’ve managed to take the old stupid/evil continuum and figured out how to get stupider and more evil.

    They are dumb, dull, focused and determined. It works every time in the short run. They fight off attempts to reason with them. They insist on their right to the harshest rhetoric and the most loaded weapons.

    Because they have to save the country from … something.

    The only question now is how much worse it will get.

  89. 89
    dmsilev says:

    @Steeplejack: Thanks. What a weird mangling of the URL. You’d think copy-paste would be something simple enough that I wouldn’t screw it up; guess not.

    I blame Obama.


  90. 90
    scarshapedstar says:

    And again, I’m sure many of you will want to say “They were always this dumb.” They just weren’t though. It’s been a noticeable shift in both stupidity and meanness.

    Before you go too far, John, read some of your posts from 2002-2003. Just sayin’.

  91. 91
    Blogreeder says:

    Is this what passes for deep discourse at Balloon-Juice? I’m impressed.

  92. 92
    Svensker says:

    I think there have always been dumb, mean shits in the Repub party. The difference is there used to be some rational normal folks, too — Bob Dole, Brent Scowcroft, Thomas Kean, Christie Todd Whitman, Lincoln Chaffee, Rockefeller, James Baker, etc. — but they’ve mostly been driven out, until only the crazies and the pig-ignorant are left.

  93. 93
    Evolved Deep Southerner says:

    @de stijl: You aren’t the only one to note that, de stijl.

    Check this out

  94. 94
    General Stuck says:


    I disagree with this analysis,

    Well, then. Yo momma wears combat boots. But seriously, exit polls beg to differ. They would have won some seats with just hawking the floundering economy, but they also likely won a fair number of seats from scaring seniors over HCR, and others with all the lying bullshit. And I am sure some racists who may have not been mid term voters, dragged their sorry asses to the polls for this one, hearing all the dogwhistles. No one knows how many seats won for each of those reasons, or if they could have won enough to take the House with just the economy card. As it was, they had a landslide type election for a midterm playing all those cards.

    edit – and they simply had no choice but to saddle up with the tea tard energy, whether they actually joined in spirit with them, though quite a few did that. The rest just kept their yaps shut through it all. I don’t think that will work the same in 2012, and may even work against them, depending of the economy and jobs. But I don’t underestimate, any more, the rank stupidity of the American voter, not after 2010

  95. 95
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    oops I used the S word. I am in moderation.

  96. 96
    Belvoir says:

    Bachmann’s saying “repeal Obama” could be seen as a dumb misstatement. Or perhaps it’s a dog-whistle, not a mistake, an allusion to “impeach Obama”. I would not put it past this bunch, especially upon his re-election. They will try, and I don’t think that was a verbal slip, it was a wink.

  97. 97
    gwangung says:


    I think a lot of the masses have always been this stupid.

    No kidding.

    Remember…this is a country where the masses have always…ALWAYS sided with OWNERS in professional sports…you know, the side with all the money, who’ll extort stadiums from local publics, who make patrons pay seat licenses and who charge you for a 20 oz beer and give you 16 oz? The country will side with the OWNERS over the players EVERY SINGLE TIME. And they’ll whine that it’s the players who are greedy…..

  98. 98
    Hawes says:

    It’s the Overton Window of stupid! At last, we have reached full circle.

    The Stupid has always been with us. Yellow Dog Democrats in the South were not exactly intellectual heavyweights.

    I think the end of the Cold War and the ushering in of more ideological parties has taken all the stupid and concentrated it in one party. Which is not say that there isn’t a remarkable amount of stupid in the Democratic party. Take Cenk Uygar, for instance.

    But the Democratic party has decided to honor smart and ignore stupid.

    So they’ve got that going for them.

    Which is nice.

  99. 99
    Nutella says:

    Bachmann wants to repeal the Senate? And the president? Showing her great reverence for the constitution again, I see.

  100. 100
    catclub says:

    @Linda Featheringill:
    Count me in favor of that one. There are far too many veto points in the US government. Any proposal that eliminates the ability of Jim DeMint to fuck up the entire nations business is an improvement.

  101. 101
    Jody says:

    I’m a little late to the game but I gotta say the idea of just shutting down the Senate entirely is VERY appealing to me…

  102. 102
    John O says:

    This is the sh*t I come to BJ for.

    I stopped watching TV newsotainment a good two years ago, but I can picture Bachmann’s performance like it had been burned into my retinas.

  103. 103
    jwb says:

    @General Stuck: Well, we know for certain that they lost some seats that they would have won if they’d run sane candidates, and I don’t see many cases where they won because they ran crazy candidates. One thing they might argue is that the Dem coalition would not have been so fractious if it hadn’t been for all the crazy. But we all know full well that the Dems are experts at deploying the perfect as an enemy of the good, so the progressive and corporate wings of the party were almost certainly going to come to blows if the GOP put up just enough resistance to make things difficult. But, personally, I don’t think they needed to turn the crazy up at all to do that. Those who did need to turn the crazy up were the media—especially Limbaugh and Fox.

  104. 104
    de stijl says:

    @Evolved Deep Southerner:

    That was chilling. Not being a Texan, I had no real exposure to W before the run up to the 2000 election. The contrast from 1994 to the 2004 debates in the video was shocking. Appalling. That guy was the President of the United States.

  105. 105
    Bender says:

    Meanwhile, using John’s construction, most Democrats believe that Guam will tip over if we station soldiers there. What a bunch of morons Democrats are. Difference is, John, they were always that way.

    Yaaaaay, this “The Other Side Is Stupid” game is so fun to play, even though it has been played to a draw on all eight million political hack-blogs, left and right.

    But let’s play! I haven’t even gotten to the Sheila Jagoff Lee quotes yet!

  106. 106
    jwb says:

    @Bender: So, you’re volunteering to be Exhibit A in the other side is stupid and not at all self-aware, I see. Game over. Good boy.

  107. 107
    General Stuck says:


    No, I agree, they didn’t have to turn it to 11, but I don’t really think they could help themselves. Like I said in an earlier comment on this thread, wingnuts need a strong alpha dog leader, that can temper their natural atavistic impulses while capable of still being wingnut enough to hold their respect, and present to the country a more mainstream image. They don’t have that right now, and I’m not sure they can with the tea tard southern type wingers running the show.

    The only thing that can maintain their 2010 election power is a bad economy. So what do we expect from the House now? Pure unadulterated nihilism to sabotage, dressed up in faux failed conservative philosophy. It is all they have, and we will be lucky to survive as a country from it all.

  108. 108
    trixie larue says:

    My husband grew up in Tennessee and Georgia. He always thought his family was liberal until he realized they were supporting Barry Goldwater. And they were disappointed when they realized that both their sons were democrats. How could it have happened?

    But, yes, some things have definitely changed. The facade of the party has been removed and what is revealed isn’t nice.

  109. 109
    Chyron HR says:


    Okay, Bender. Whatever you say, Bender. Please don’t shoot us or our children, you non-stupid, non-violent Tea Party Patriot, you.

  110. 110
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    We actually saw the moment when the GOP broke. It was when George H.W. Bush had to renounce his “voodoo economics” view and become less moderate on abortion. He was generally pretty decent. Which is why it is instructive – because plenty of generally decent people went right along in much the same way. Power over policy.

    ETA: He also seemed to feel the need to bash atheists which I don’ t think was a coincidence after Reagan wooed the “moral majority” clowns.

  111. 111
    sukabi says:

    Somehow or another they’ve managed to take the old stupid/evil continuum and figured out how to get stupider and more evil.

    political bulimia — binging on crazy and stupid, purging those that don’t share their view.

    this is how they’ve gotten exponentially more evil, stupider and angrier.

  112. 112
    Gian says:

    not being much of a modern country music fan, and having heard some of the modern overproduced stuff, which sounds like pop with a comical over-exagerated fake twang/accent

    I get where Bush, with his fake accent (born in CT, went to Yale…) and the damn nookyoulair instead of nuclear crap was going, Palin does the same thing, she was a somewhat sucessful TV broadcaster at some point. there are people on the same road you travel, every day who somehow relate to obviously fake accents as being “just like me”

    why they don’t see it as insulting, I’ve no idea. To me the notion of someone putting on an badly faked accent to appeal to my provincalism is infuriating, to the Bush and Palin fan? are they too dumb to get it? do they just love being pandered to even if it’s an insulting pander?

    I get the racist dog whistles, I get the Christian Theocracy dogwhistles. I don’t get the “I’m a dumb hick just like you’re a dumb hick” stuff – especially when the accent is so obviously fake/overdone

  113. 113
    trollhattan says:

    How much of the sea change occurred when Nixon executed (heh, yeah) the southern strategy?

    I suspect the part lost several dozen IQ points with that election.

  114. 114
    jwb says:

    @General Stuck: It will be interesting to see whether the House GOP can thread the needle on the economy and obstruct without absorbing the blame. It will take some political talent to do that, even if Fox & Co. do the heavy lifting. I’m just not convinced they have the talent to pull it off, though I’m also not sure the Dems have a strategy that will allow them to turn the tables either. Making predictions this far out is a fool’s errand, of course, but it wouldn’t surprise me if 2012 ends up being one of those very ambiguous elections, where Obama wins, perhaps even handily, but proves not to have coattails. But the GOP could do something completely crazy, the economy could tank badly—given the way states are having to cut slash budgets, I’d say the latter possibility is quite likely, and that will really scramble the political deck.

  115. 115
    Teri says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: : I can attest to that. There has be concerted efforts to get rid of “RINO’s”. Various people would go to “lectures, seminars” etc and come back and harass, demean, torment and try to drive out the reasonable and competent people on a local level. Persistence of stupid, fatigue of fighting over the same damn thing, and the fear of people when you try to recruit them to run that their past, their families would be exposed and destroyed@GeneJockey: There is also the sneering at “the brains” whereas the “Jocks” are the real leaders. The national republican party has become a giant high school.@SFAW: They started with local school boards (look at Texas) and found out how easy it was to manipulate and market a message to people too busy to pay attention@Tsulagi: Yes they are getting tired of the stupid, but when anyone tries to change the tone or direction there is a concerted attack of them. @Woodrowfan When the media became corporate. There are very few independent newspapers out there any more.

  116. 116
    priscianus jr says:

    They are dumber now because all the smart ones have left the party.

  117. 117
    Montysano says:

    YMMV, but of all the wingnuts, Bachmann is teh most sinister and frightening. She’s the truest of True Believers. She would waterboard your/my/John Cole’s ass in a heartbeat and never lose of bit of sleep over it. The prospect of a Bachmann presidential run may be high-larious to most, but it puts a chill up my spine.

  118. 118
    Chris says:


    This is why you will find “Nixonland” so illuminating. It’s when the strategy for attracting all the stupid and demented became operational (the Goldwater years were just tentative experimentation, IMHO). Nixon imprinted it into the GOP’s DNA, Reagan showed how it could work when you have a candidate who doesn’t come off as a mixture of Voldemort and Snidely Whiplash, and W was the crowning achievement.

    I’d call Reagan the crowning achievement, myself.

    Goldwater had the ideology, but not the electoral campaign (the appealing to the great masses of stupid). Nixon had the electoral campaign, but not the ideology (he was a Keynesian). Reagan was the first presidential candidate to combine the two. Every Gooper since then’s just been following his blueprint.

  119. 119
    trollhattan says:


    Sarah and Michele, sittin’ in a tree….

  120. 120
    agrippa says:

    Seinfeld. I blame Seinfeld.

    American politics have been Seinfelded.

    It is about nothing. Now, shut up!

  121. 121

    So she really did say “repeal the Senate.” I was only half-listening at that point to preserve my sanity, and I thought maybe I’d misheard. Jesus. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even figure out what they think they’re saying.

  122. 122
    JAHILL10 says:

    @jwb: The poll out today from NBC seems to indicate that the majority of the nation is not exactly out to lunch on who is obstructing who in Washington and a majority said it would be the Republicans not cooperating with Obama that would cause problems going forward. Combine that with Faux News becoming the least trusted “news” source in the nation and its just possible people are waking up.

  123. 123

    Stupid… like a fox… I think. Healthcare reform is certainly a rock solid modern example of where they started opposing plans they originally proposed with arguments that are truely moronic… but as others have pointed out, they’ve been playing intellectual Calvinball since Nixon. I’m not sure I can really say it’s a new thing.

  124. 124
    kindness says:

    Ever see professional wrestling? That’s the Republican party now. They both use caricatures of modern life as a projection models. They both build up their followers and get them whipped up and involved by over the top depictions, especially of the bad guys. The audience eats it up, republicans eat it up. They revel in it. They are Bachmann people. They are Beck people. They are Rush people. It works for them.

    What republicans don’t have any more is they don’t have any Buckleys any more. They have those who act like they are cosmopolitan and educated, but those are facades. Just read what they write. No comparison to what used to be reasonable arguments. Now, it’s just bile spewing.

    I blame the media. In the past, the media would call them on it. They would talk about hypocrisy or god forbid, lying. Now, the media wants in. Cage matches are good for ratings.

  125. 125
    DW says:

    The short answer about the modern GOP is that they have seen their greatness flicker and in short they are afraid.

    The longer answer goes back to Machiavelli – politics is about wealth and honor. A lot of cultural politics is status competition – for example, prohibition let white rural Protestants show dominance over urban Catholics and demonstrate who decided what was American. The base of the GOP and the tea party is white, rural and suburban, largely Protestant and largely Southern. For decades now they’ve been told they are “Heartland America”, the core of the country. They’ve been the top ethnic group, status wise. But now the world’s change. I grew up with the political assumption that a successful Democratic presidential candidate had to be white, Southern, moderate and of course male. Look back ten years ago, and you have President Bush (white Southern conservative) succeeding Clinton (white Southern moderate) after a race against Gore (another White Southern moderate.) Pretty much all the other leadership positions were held by white Southern Protestants – the culmination of a couple of generations of cultural dominance. In 2004 the Democrats run a Massachusetts liberal who wins 47% of the vote. In 2006 the Democrats win Congress and make an Italian Catholic grandmother from San Francisco the Speaker. In 2008 a black man from a mixed race marriage, from Chicago, gets elected with an electoral college coalition that bypasses the South. All of a sudden the GOP base is no longer culturally dominant but at the fringes. And they are offended and frightened at the loss of dominance. They no longer receive the ass kissing they feel entitled to.

    It gets worse – a bad economy lifted the GOP in 2010 but the fact of the matter is the GOP base is old and white. And anti-immigrant rhetoric makes it unlikely they’ll be able to peel off Latino voters. They’re going to be more and more marginalized as time goes by. On top of that, reality is uncooperative. The whole lifestyle of live in the exurbs, drive your SUV to Walmart and stock up on goods made in China is coming to an end. We’ve got peak oil and Chinese labor won’t be cheap that much longer. See Krugman for an optimistic version of the future. So their world is coming to an end. That’s why they’re getting so crazy.

  126. 126
    Calouste says:


    Incompetent and unaware. These people are so sumb they don’t, and can’t, realize they’re dumb.

  127. 127
    Chris says:


    I get the racist dog whistles, I get the Christian Theocracy dogwhistles. I don’t get the “I’m a dumb hick just like you’re a dumb hick” stuff – especially when the accent is so obviously fake/overdone

    Can’t help you there. But;

    I don’t think it’s just the hicks who enjoy that. It’s also the middle-class suburbanites who’ve never been near a hick environment in their lives, but revere the Authentic Frontier Gibberish as part of a romanticized American tradition when Real Men still walked the earth.

    In other words, it’s supposed to appeal to people who watch cowboy movies. Not actual cowboys.

  128. 128
    JWL says:

    Broken recordville: There are consequences when treason unleashes war, and representatives of both political parties choose to ignore that rude truth.

  129. 129
    mds says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Repeal the Senate? What? Disband the whole body?

    BACHMANN: The Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word that the Boehner has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the Old Democrats have been swept away.

    MATTHEWS: But that’s impossible. How will the Boehner maintain control without the other chamber?

    BACHMANN: The Republican Representatives will now have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the states in line. Fear of my Turner Overdrive.

  130. 130
    Chris says:


    You, my friend, just became my latest favorite person ever.

  131. 131
    jonas says:

    An important variable here is the role of the media. 9/11 and the Iraq War essentially castrated the MSM as an institution that could effectively speak truth to power and that was interested in holding government accountable to the people. Part of that surrender was allowing Republicans to spread complete idiocy and remain unchallenged, lest their very patriotism be questioned. There have always been mildly retarded, unhinged politicians like Bachmann out there. The difference is that in the last decade they could get invited on to Meet the Press and be confident that they could spout any amount of total bullshit for a half hour without being called on it in any serious way.

    Perhaps politicians aren’t any stupider. But the media definitely are.

  132. 132
    dogwood says:

    I don’t know if the Republicans are dumber or not, but what I do know is that the party has completely disregarded any sense of the nobility of public service. Where are the Holbrookes and Shrivers in today’s GOP? I didn’t much agree with men like Bush I, Bob Dole, Jim Baker, etc., but having them in power didn’t frighten me. Reagan didn’t much frighten me either. He cut deals and made compromises and while some bad things happened, we didn’t go to hell in a handbasket. How pathetic was it that people like Kissinger, Schultz, Scowcroft etc. had to step in on the START treaty. Dick Luger was the only Rep. in the Senate who took his duty to the country seriously. Other than Luger and Bob Gates, Huntsman and LaHood I can’t think of a single GOPer who gives a damn anymore about public service. I can list dozens upon dozens of Dems who do.

  133. 133
    DW says:

    @Chris: Seconded. A lot of the GOP base longs after some imaginary authentic America. Get a copy of Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic, replace the Black Panthers with the Tea Party, and replace the Manhattan liberals with the conservative intelligentsia. You’ll get a better understanding of what’s going on.

  134. 134
    Nathanael says:

    It’s group self-selection in a positive-feedback loop. The stupid and evil are quite deliberately driving out the less stupid and less evil (witness the fate of Charlie Crist).

    This of course, leaves a stupider, eviller group, who drives out the least stupid and least evil remaining people. And the very driving-out-better-people phenomenon causes other less stupid, less evil people to leave in disgust.

    Rinse and repeat, and eventually you have a small echo chamber of very stupid, very evil people. Unfortunately it’s 23% of the country, or so, and controls even more of the government.

  135. 135
    Hob says:


    Ronald Reagan was not, himself, nearly as bad as we make him out to be. His rhetoric was horrible, but the way he governed was more moderate than his rhetoric.

    Your first point doesn’t follow from your second. Yes, Reagan’s rhetoric was worse than how he governed. That doesn’t mean the way he governed wasn’t incredibly bad, or was moderate.

    Reagan cut the top marginal tax rate to 28% based on Laffer Curve bullshit. He did his best to dismantle social welfare programs and regulatory agencies. He encouraged an insane arms race. He invaded Grenada and bombed Libya just because he could. He gave both material and propaganda support to hideous murderers in Latin America in the name of anticommunism. He let a cadre of crooked military and intelligence critters set up their own private foreign policy. He tried to put Robert Fucking Bork on the Supreme Court.

    That’s how bad we make him out to be, and he was that bad.

  136. 136
    Chris says:


    That’s how bad we make him out to be, and he was that bad.


    He was also elected in California by running against the Fair Housing Act and playing on racial and cultural fears, which means he was doing the same thing as Nixon even before he did. He deserves far, far more contempt than he usually gets.

  137. 137
    Sasha says:


    I think that the intelligent republicans call themselves independents now.

    Or blue dogs.

  138. 138
    El Cid says:

    @kindness: Professional wrestling = soap operas for men. Mexican soap operas.

  139. 139
    noncarborundum says:


    or “he’s a Rockefeller Republican” the last of which really doesn’t resonate with anyone alive today.

    When did I die, and why wasn’t I told?

  140. 140
    Sly says:

    There have always been petty and ignorant reactionaries. We just see and hear them more now than we did, say, thirty years ago. You might chalk this up to the creation of an institutional apparatus that has been better suited to disseminate conservative propaganda, but technology also plays a big role as well. All Father Coughlin had to work with was radio.

    Contemporary morons aren’t any more moronic than the JBSers who insisted that water fluoridation was a Bolshevik plot. And those morons were not any more moronic than their predecessors of the 19th century who firmly believed that the country was being threatened by a secret cabal of Jews or Masons or agents of the Pope.

    Nor do we have more morons today than years past. No, our morons just have a bigger megaphone.

  141. 141
    goatchowder says:

    There were indeed always stupid Republicans around. Many members of my family, f’rinstance, who were McCarthy/Nixon/Goldwater/Agnew/Reagan all the way through since the 1950s.

    But you’re right. There were plenty of intelligent, pragmatic, civic-minded Republicans back in the day. The 50th anniversary of Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” speech is a great example of that.

    Today’s Republicans are basically nihilists. They want only to destroy government, and replace it with a corporate/christian/military/paramilitary coalition.

    I know that’s a weird coalition, but it works here. There are many things that corporate billionaire theives and banksters, Christian Taliban whackos, military-industrial-complex fatcats, and paramilitary white supremacists don’t agree on, but, the problem is that they all share a deep love of authoritarianism, so, when some “strong leader” says jump, they all jump, putting aside their differences.

    Meanwhile, on the left, we can’t get people who fundamentally agree about most things to work together on anything. Sheesh.

  142. 142
    PIGL says:

    @Linda Featheringill: almost exactly what it means. And Fox and friends have unleashed them.

  143. 143
    Andrew says:

    It’s not just that they are getting dumber, it’s that they actually celebrate their shear dumbness and when you point out how dumb the stuff coming out of their mouths actually is, they use it against you with their base to say, look I’m being attacked for being a Real American

  144. 144
    bk says:

    @de stijl:
    Off the wagon. Pretty obvious.

  145. 145
    Joey Maloney says:

    @trollhattan: Apropos of nothing, but if you could get Palin, Bachmann, and Pam of Atlas Shrugged to start a group blog, you could call it Sarah Michelle Gellar. And it would be the Hellmouth of crazy and stupid.

  146. 146
    jTh says:

    I think Jonas above has hit upon a key turning point, when the MSM was castrated after 9/11.

  147. 147
    de stijl says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    Add an apprentice blogger named Dawn, and Willow as the IT gal and I’m there!

  148. 148
    SFAW says:

    the conservative intelligentsia.

    “Daddy, what does ‘Null Set’ mean?”

  149. 149
    bob h says:

    Re the Lizza piece on Issa in the latest New Yorker: How can it be that a man with a criminal record would be appointed chairman of the committee on investigations? It is some kind of sick joke.

  150. 150
    SFAW says:

    Re the Lizza piece on Issa in the latest New Yorker: How can it be that a man with a criminal record would be appointed chairman of the committee on investigations?

    “Look! Over there! No, Over THERE! A Mooslim Kenyan fascist blackity black usurper wants to kill your Granny through Death Panels and Teh Deficit! ! !”

  151. 151
    SFAW says:

    Of course, with the MSM, “Look, a bunny rabbit!” works about as well.

  152. 152
    Bobby Thomson says:

    John, it’s generational. The Republicans I knew growing up in blood red states always were this stupid and mean. And now that cohort is in charge of the Republican party.

  153. 153
    brantl says:

    They aren’t a lot dumber in what they believe, they’re just dumber about disguising it, mainly because they used to think that they had to sneak to acheive their objectives, and now they think that they can do them openly.

    It’s hard to argue that they can’t, since they’ve gone against majority opinion to give tax cuts to the rich, isn’t it?

  154. 154
    harlana says:

    Well, it’s kinda sad that we can count out the Palin/Bachmann ticket now, not because of anything Bachmann has said thus far, apparently, but “only” because Palin used the term “blood libel.”

    Also, it is interesting to note how many teevee news and radio commentators have actually even entertained the notion that Palin didn’t know what the term meant, as if somehow she can be excused for not understanding basic terms in the context of the speech that was written for her. The fact that this is even debated, as if she can be forgiven for such egregious ignorance, is in itself a frightening reflection on this country.

    That’s the level of stupid the GOP has reached and it’s frightening as hell.

  155. 155
    brantl says:


    tho i disagreed with goldwater and nixon, they were intelligent men who had a real grasp of the constitution.

    It may be arguable that Goldwater intended to follow the constitution, it is plain that Nixon didn’t intend to, and plainly didn’t.

  156. 156
    brantl says:

    @de stijl:

    George W. Bush is a case in point. During the run-up to the 2000 election, he was not noticeably dumb and inarticulate.

    Bullshit, if I bothered to google it, I could find you tons of dreadfully stupid Bush quotes from the first campaign. Gore kicked his ass to the curb in the debates (oh, sorry for the non-PC-violent metaphor!, but he did). Bush looked consistently stupid through his whole career. Don’t re-write history.

  157. 157
    Ash Can says:

    Just the fact that Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and even Ronald Fucking Reagan compare favorably to the idiots and socipaths running the GOP nowadays says all that needs to be said in support of John’s point.

  158. 158
    Chris says:


    Today’s Republicans are basically nihilists.

    Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of movement conservatism, Dude…

  159. 159
    SFAW says:

    Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of movement conservatism, Dude…

    Dude, are you saying they’re not nihilists? Or that they are?

  160. 160
    de stijl says:


    Check out the video from @Evolved Deep Southerner‘s comment. The degradation of his speech faculty is astounding.

  161. 161
    SFAW says:

    The degradation of his speech faculty is astounding.

    Yeah, booze will do that.

  162. 162
    xian says:

    @Gian: re

    I don’t get the “I’m a dumb hick just like you’re a dumb hick” stuff – especially when the accent is so obviously fake/overdone.

    Git’r Done!

  163. 163
    de stijl says:


    I prefer my recreational use of dextromethorphan (aka robotripping) theory.

  164. 164
    SFAW says:

    de stijl –

    Wasn’t familiar with the term “robotripping” (Clues’Rnt’Us); I’ll know for the next time, thanks for edumacating me.

    In any event: has he ever shown an inclination to try something new? Hence booze. (And, of course, reasonable people may disagree, but I’m not convinced he didn’t start drinking again early in his term.)

  165. 165
    de stijl says:


    Actually, all foolin’ aside, I agree with the person upthread who suggested aphasia. A series of small TIAs or something like that.

  166. 166
    geg6 says:


    Oh, I totally agree. He was drunk as a skunk the whole second term. In fact, perhaps from 9/11/01 on, now that I think of it.

  167. 167
    Chris says:


    Neither, really. I just threw in a paraphrase from the Big Lebowski, for the sake of paraphrasing the Big Lebowski. Didn’t make much sense, in retrospect, but…

    Anyway, like several people have pointed out… what they believe in is their own right to profit at everyone else’s expense (and it’s not something they tack onto an ideology with higher-sounding morals; that is their ideology).

    That’s not an ideology in the usual sense of the term, but technically it’s not nihilism either. Nah, I’ll give them a pass on the “nihilist” label. “Objectivist” was invented for just these people, I think that one works fine.

  168. 168
    brantl says:

    Bush was exactly this degree of stupid many times. He varies, and probably it’s lockstepped with how much he was drinking.

    The simplest explanations that explain all the facts are usually the right ones.

  169. 169
    brantl says:

    It was in his first term that his extemporaneous speech was analyzed and they estimated his IQ as 80. (70’s a moron). Carter’s was done at the same time, and his was within 2% of what it actually is. How much lower do you think he could go?

  170. 170
    blogreeder says:

    I guess I should give John some credit. (Granted I can’t expect people with IQs as low as yours to get it because it’s nuanced) but maybe John is reacting to the Tucson Shootings by trying to be more civil. I haven’t heard John say something this charitable about the Republicans for sometime. He’s actually calling Republicans smarter. It’s something.

  171. 171
    debbie says:

    When is a Democrat going to stand up when she or any other Teabagger says something like this and seriously yell, “You lie!”

  172. 172
    SFAW says:

    He’s actually calling Republicans smarter.

    I feel blessed that someone with as high an IQ as you seem to think you have has explained John’s post. Incorrectly, or (at best) incompletely, perhaps. But at least you ‘splained it, and you can feel good about yourself, doin’ that noble thing and all.

    While your at it: can you please explain to me how Gateway Pundit’s “applause” post of N days ago was satire? Because I’m not smart enough to figger it out on mah own.

    Once you do that, you’ll be ready to explain why the “original” proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem was incorrect.

  173. 173
    blogreeder says:

    Don’t feel blessed, it’s really nothing. I’m here for you guys. If someone can benefit from my wisdom, I’m happy. (That was SARCASM)

    Now why is it, that you think I have to explain Gateway Pundit’s post? I don’t even read Gateway. I read theAgitator. I read Balloon-juice for the aggravation.

    I understand why you would think that I read Gateway because liberals love to group people. You mention “individual” to a liberal and they go slack jawed and stare blankly at you. It’s a foreign concept. To a liberal, everyone belongs to a group. If they don’t self identify, you’re there to shove them into something. Anything. Individual is like a naked singularity to a liberal. All their rules break down in it’s presence.

    Like how would you be able to call all Republicans’s stupid if you had the idea of an individual?

    (Off Topic but this site really looks different in Chrome)

  174. 174
    SFAW says:

    To a liberal, everyone belongs to a group.

    Oh, I get it, that was satire!

    Individual is like a naked singularity to a liberal. All their rules break down in it’s presence.

    Yes, and A=A, as Rosenbaum once wrote. Its almost as if your an acolyte of hers or something.

    Like how would you be able to call all Republicans’s stupid if you had the idea of an individual?

    Well, I never generalize.

    And it’s impossible (in a practical sense) to prove that the Republic Party does not have a single intelligent member or adherent. (After all, absence of evidence .NE. evidence of absence and all that.) But, based on the extensive population sample that has been available to us demon Lieberals for nigh on 15 years now, the likelihood of there being an intelligent Republicker somewhere/anywhere is approaching zero.

    On a semi-related note: Projection is strong with you. Your woeful litany of liberals-this and liberals-that is straight out of the Repug playbook of pretending that liberals are doing all the repugnant things that the Repugs really are doing. But nice try.

  175. 175
    SFAW says:

    Also: You still owe me the explanation re: Fermat’s Last Theorem, chief.

  176. 176
    blogreeder says:

    It’s cute when you guys try to have intelligent discourse.
    So darn cute. You think if you use big words or obscure references that this will make up for your inability to grasp basic logic concepts. And no, I’m not going to explain Fermat’s Last Theorem to you.

    (Funny thing happened to me. This guy I know was texting about his girlfriend’s job and he called her a Sue Chief. I was thinking how does one get a job as a Sioux Chief? But he meant Sous Chef. His spelling is terrible! I just had to tell someone.)

  177. 177
    SFAW says:

    It’s cute when you guys try to have intelligent discourse.

    Not that you’d be able to discern what intelligent discourse is, of course. But at least you were intelligent enough to have someone proofread your comments, and tell you to use the word “discourse” in the conversation.

    Fermat is hardly obscure (well, he is, but his Theorem isn’t), except to those such as yourself who pride themselves on being “wicked smaht conservatives”. But I digress.

    As far as “inability to grasp basic logic concepts”: you keep projecting, honey, it’s what y’all are best at. Might as well play to your strengths.

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