When The Elephant Went Rogue

A Surabaya Zoo health worker checks the

Bernstein blames laziness for the current Republican madness:

The truth is that Republicans can pretty much say whatever they want, no matter what the bizarre logic and no matter what connection it has to what they were saying five minutes ago, and Fox News will totally accept it and blast it for hours or days. The result? Republicans have become incredibly lazy. After all, why bother constructing a coherent argument if you don’t need one.

So why is it a problem? Well, for one thing, it means that it’s easy for Republican politicians to fall deep within an information feedback loop, not even realizing that what everyone within that loop is excited about is unpopular, or perhaps just irrelevant, to the other 80 percent or so of the nation. Or to put it another way: Benghazi!

That’s potentially bad for Republicans if they lose a bit of popularity that way, but it’s worse for the system as a whole, because the system depends on parties and their politicians trying to do things that appeal to voters. The problem here is that Republican politicians deep enough in the loop might not even realize that they are espousing unpopular or irrelevant ideas.

Frum lists other factors that have crippled the party. Republicans’ rage at Obama is a big one of course:

Barack Obama was never likely to be popular with the Republican base. It’s not just that he’s black. He’s first president in 76 years with a foreign parent—and unlike Hulda Hoover, Barack Obama Sr. never even naturalized. While Obama is not the first president to hold two degrees from elite universities—Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did as well—his Ivy predecessors at least disguised their education with a down-home style of speech. Join this cultural inheritance to liberal politics, and of course you have a formula for conflict. But effective parties make conflict work for them. Hate leads to rage, and rage makes you stupid. Republicans have convinced themselves both that President Obama is a revolutionary radical hell-bent upon destroying America as we know it and that he’s so feckless and weak-willed that he’ll always yield to pressure. It’s that contradictory, angry assessment that has brought the GOP to a place where it must either abjectly surrender or force a national default. Calmer analysis would have achieved better results.

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