“Political theater.” It’s an old concept, going back at least as far as the first demagogues ever to step foot in Athens. A thirst for fame and a taste for the dramatic has proven an asset to many politicians throughout history — particularly populist conservatives like Ted Cruz, Ronald Reagan and Adolph Hitler. All of whom spent at least as much time studying Broadway stage actors than they did economic or social theory. Ben Stein, Clint Eastwood and Sonny Bono are just a few. The 1987 movie Predator ALONE produced no less than three conservative politicians, including Jesse Ventura, the Governator and Sonny Landham — who started his career as a pornstar, played “Billy” in Predator, and then ran on the Libertarian ticket for governor of Kentucky in 2003.
We wouldn’t wish that on a broke-d*ck dog.
Indeed, Washington these days is chock full of conservative predators, who’ve made a living out of screwing people — actors, stage trained to convince voters that they’re doing anything but. And that has gotten ever more true since an idiot-centric populaist movement known as the Tea Party began filling seats in Congress. Indeed, few miss an opportunity to deliver their carefully rehearsed lines, to dramatically recite any talking point they think will catapult them to fame on Fox News.
Unfortunately, though, Congress isn’t all about delivering lines for air-time; believe it or not, they actually do have jobs to do in between screen tests. One of those right now is confirming a new Attorney General to replace Eric Holder, who’s held the postilion longer than any other AG in United States history.
In that (very long) six years, Holder’s collected his fair share of complaints from America’s Political Theater Party. And all of them have been pretty thoroughly aired — enough so that many conservatives have been chomping at the bit to get “lawless” Holder out of office. Obama appointee Loretta Lynch is getting very close to filling Holder’s seat, and is expected to be confirmed through our now GOP senate by next week. But in the grandest conservative tradition, no black woman gets a seat without a black guy getting lynched.
In this case, two: Barack Obama and Eric Holder.
Oddly enough, the Senate (even conservatives) seemed nothing but happy with the AG nominee herself. Despite the fact that she back their mortal enemy Barry on almost everything, Republicans were surprisingly positive about her. No matter how she answered questions on immigration, executive powers and enforcing laws, even the most conservative in attendance couldn’t find good reason to oppose her. Instead, they spent almost the entire time talking about those lawless, communist constitution-shredders Holder and Obama. A few examples, starting with Washington University Professor Jonathan Turley:
“The Justice Department is at the epicenter of a constitutional crisis, a crisis that consumed her predecessor and his department…We are watching a fundamental change in our constitutional system. It’s changing in the very way that the Framers warned us to avoid. The Justice Department has played a central and troubling role in those changes.”
“Try as I might, there has been nothing I have been able to ask you that has yielded any answer suggesting any limitations whatsoever on the authority of the president.”
To which Lynch responded that, should Obama in his last two years pull off his human skin and reveal himself for the Illuminati communist Muslim lizard man antichrist dictator conservatives have been promising, the American people and not the president would be “my client and my first thought.”
At the end of it all, though, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), head of the confirmation committee, had finally had enough. After going through several of the witnesses, and going over their testimonies, he boiled it down to this: “So, you don’t have a problem with Lynch — this is just political thater.”
He began with a reminder of George Washington’s “110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” Which even today stand as a pointed (if a quaintly archaic) set of guidelines for gentlemanly behavior. All of which are worth reading — in particular Rule 26, regarding bowing in respect to equals. A rule which conservatives seem to have forgotten when they reamed Obama for doing exactly that when greeting certain foreign Muslim leaders. But Whitehouse’s commentary focused on Rule No. 89, which states:
“Speak not Evil of the absent, for it is unjust.”
He went on:
“There are plenty of forums were the attorney general would have an opportunity to defend himself,” Whitehouse said of Republicans who continued to focus on Attorney General Eric Holder, someone who was not in attendance at these hearings. “This is not one. There is no forum here, there is no opportunity here for Attorney General Holder to answer these various charges that have been made. I think that is fundamentally unjust. And I think it is frankly beneath the dignity of this committee at a time when we have a very significant and solemn charge before us to determine the fitness of a specific individual to be attorney general of the United States.”
Or, to paraphrase: “Keep the theater on Broadway. We actually have work to do here.” And if that statement was “pointed,” his next rammed like a spike through the conservative vampire heart:
“I have no problem with the attacks,” he continued. “My problem is choosing this forum for them when the other, the individual in question, has no chance to answer. I think it fails President Washington’s test that one speak not evil of the absent for it is unjust. I regret that this hearing and this solemn occasion has been co-opted to that extent, and turned into what appears to be a soundbite factory for Fox News and conspiracy theorists everywhere.”
There’s a soundbite for Hannity. Wonder if that will make it on his show.
But then again, it doesn’t really matter which show these Republican soundbites make it onto. On the stage of political theater, it matters much less what you say or where you say, and more that your gestures and tone are grandiose enough to make it to the cheap seats. In showbusiness, content and context matter a lot less than sheer entertainment value — especially when your audience is too stupid to appreciate subtlety. The show must go on…thank Space Predator we’ve got a few Republicans on hand to deliver their lines.
There’s something out there waiting for us, and it ain’t no man. We’re all gonna die.
H/T: Forward Progressives