Thursday, March 4, 2010

GOP memo encourages fearmongering

Posted By on Thu, Mar 4, 2010 at 12:12 PM

So, what's new? Politicians have played the fear card in every election since, oh ... probably since the beginning of elections, though I have no proof.

Oh, wait. What's new? Right. The memo discusses ways to take advantage of the party's supporters. Nice! Money wins, again.

Well, this is something. Just when you thought politics could not possibly get any more cynical than phony accusations of “death panels” and “Tea Party” conventions that rip off crazy people with the promise of revolution, we discover that the Republican National Committee thinks its funders are so stupid that they can soak them the basis of “fear,” “socialism,” and tchotchkes.

No really. According to a document uncovered by Politico, RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart gave a presentation at a party retreat in Boca Grande, Florida, on February 18 in which he explained how “ego-driven” Republican donors could be bilked by a campaign of fear and the promise that only the Republicans could "save the country from trending toward socialism."

The document is breathtaking in the contempt demonstrated for Republican supporters, expecting them to insist that a president who, on the one hand, is accused by his own supporters as being overly cozy with Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry—to say nothing of his hawkish foreign policy—while he's also dubbed the second coming of Joe Stalin. "What can you sell when you do not have the White House, the House, or the Senate...?" the memo asks. The answer is apparently a series of cartoons in which Obama is portrayed variously as The Joker, and “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid are depicted as Cruella DeVille and Scooby Doo, respectively.”

The document, which stretches on for 72 pages, has been both defended and disowned by RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s staff. This is understandable. On the one hand, it’s bad form for a party to admit that the only way to excite its base is to treat them as, er, mentally challenged. On the other hand, the guys who came up with it are themselves big-money guys and so were all the people present for the horror show they presented. (The document was apparently leaked by someone who found a stray copy lying around the Gasparilla Inn & Club, the hotel hosting the $2,500-a-head retreat.)

In many ways, the document is a parody of what liberals think conservatives are actually like.

The small-donor schmucks—the ones who give of their tiny incomes so that fat cats might enjoy even more tax breaks—are to be shaken down on the basis of their stupidity. Under the heading “Visceral Giving,” the rich Republican folk seeking to bilk them describe their rationales for giving as “fear” (of a black planet?) based on “extreme” feelings and a “reactionary” outlook. The commies at The Nation could not have put it any better themselves. Meanwhile, the fat-cat donors are credited with more “Calculated Giving.” They don’t trumpet the scare tactics: Rather, they need to have their egos stroked with “Peer to Peer Pressure” and “access.”

Read the entire Daily Beast article, by Eric Alterman, here.

The first televised fear mongering arrived in the 1960s. Here's a sample (anything sound familiar?):

This one ended Barry Goldwater's bid for president, even though it only ran once.

Oooo, look: State's rights ...

Hey, now: Communists!

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