Coming up for air (or can conservatives break out of the ideological bubble?)

I’ve been following some reactions to President Obama’s reelection.

One thread to follow has been the assessments of the comfortable ideological cocoon that conservative media provided for their followers, which left them all–pundits and audience alike–believing that Mitt Romney was comfortably ahead and GOP victory was a foregone conclusion.

Here’s a short NPR piece in which several Republicans blame Fox News for failing to inform its audience. Conservative commentator David Frum says media consumers were “fleeced” and “lied to” by Fox pundits. Click that link to listen. The segment is only a few minutes long.

The Atlantic has a pretty good piece, “How Conservative Media Lost to the MSM and Failed the Rank and File,” by Conor Friedersdorf.

Salon produced its list of worst campaign prognostications, “The biggest losers (Pundit edition)“. There’s a similar “Top 10 wrongest election predictions” from complete with video clips.

And more from a column by Theo Anderson appearing in In These Times (“The GOP’s year of magical thinking“).

Why does the Right’s over-optimism matter?

The 2012 election was a referendum on two very different approaches to public policy. One approach is to use the best available empirical evidence. The other is to rely on faith and wishful thinking. As in their campaign coverage, conservatives consistently opt for the latter route—a choice that has often blinded them to the reality in front of their noses. Climate change and the failure of supply-side economics are the most obvious examples.

They’re no less wrong about those than they were about the election. And moving forward, one of the great questions facing the body politic is whether conservatism is capable of learning to accept actual evidence rather than relying on faith. Mercifully, there was a mechanism for settling the debate in the case of the election. But things are rarely so cut-and-dried in the realm of policy, where politicians and pundits can go on spinning their own realities for years and decades.

Rachel Maddow (“asks Republicans to return to the world of facts).

“And he (Obama) really was born in Hawaii, and he really is legitimately President of the United States, again, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month, and the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy, and the polls were not screwed to oversample Democrats, and Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad, Nate Silver was doing math, and climate change is real, and rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes, and evolution is a thing, and benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us, and nobody is taking away anyone’s guns, and taxes have not gone up, and the deficit is dropping, actually, and saddam hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, and the moon landing was real, and FEMA is not building concentration camps, and you UN election observers are not taking over Texas, and moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as communism.”
Raw Story (

And then from FAIR, “Has Nate Silver Ruined Campaign Journalism?


And then my friend Michael in Hilo pointed me to the right-wing reaction in the Big TX, reported by the Texas Observer (“Buy Guns, Secede“).

I’d forgotten just how good the Texas Observer can be. From their current issue, “Kochworld,” (“To see how the Koch brothers’ free-market utopia operates, look no further than Corpus Christi).

18 responses to “Coming up for air (or can conservatives break out of the ideological bubble?)

  1. In my view, the GOP in these parts, California (if not whole west coast) has lost all relevancy.

    You cannot live in a make-believe cocoon, ignoring all but Caucasian males and survive in 2012, less you are in Alabama or South Carolina.

    Republicans are regionalized bigots and sexists who use such memorable figures such as the Koch brothers and Donald Trump as their spokesmen and front men. What self mockery!

  2. Everyone who loses believes it happen because they either didn’t get their message across or their opponent was able to distort their message. This is not a winning formula.

  3. You know your party is in trouble when you are asked “By how much did that rape guy lose?” and you have to ask “Which one?”
    –Alec Baldwin (revised)

  4. Republicans may never win another election again if they don’t become more moderate as a party, but what I see online is a lot of them digging their heels in even deeper. In their eyes Romney didn’t win because he wasn’t conservative enough. They can’t see that the only reason he had a chance at all was because he tried to appear more moderate towards the end, and that it was having the “severe conservative” stuff from the primaries thrown back in his face that ultimately did him in. The extreme far right really believes they are a majority in this country, because that’s what Fox and Limbaugh tell them.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who has tried to have a reasonable discussion with one of these people, but it’s simply not possible. They reject any information that doesn’t support what they already believe to be true, and they are so confident and self-righteous in their ignorance and misinformation that it’s downright scary.

    I don’t put all Republicans in this category, but many of the sane ones deserve part of the blame for encouraging and even cultivating the crazy to get votes.

    This quote from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham from after the election makes perfect sense to me:

    “If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn’t conservative enough I’m going to go nuts. We’re not losing 95 percent of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we’re not being hard-ass enough.”

    But to the fact-challenged wing of the Republican party that makes him a RINO.

  5. Of the party’s reliance on a shrinking pool of white men, one former top George W. Bush official said: “We’re in a demographic boa constrictor and it gets tighter every single election.”

  6. I think there’s something weird about leftwing Democrats shedding crocodile tears over Republicans losing the election and telling telling Republicans how they need to reinvent the Republican Party in order to win future elections. As though the Democrats seriously want Republicans to do well and are giving them a helping hand!

    It’s especially weird seeing Dan Boylan, Richard Borecca, and Chad Blair (three white guys, two of whom are old and one getting there) having a TV panel discussion about why the Republicans lost, and handing out advice like “They’ll keep losing as long as they’re the party of old white men and don’t look like the rest of Hawaii).” Somebody sent them a question that got read on the air, asking whether any of them had ever voted for a Republican. Blair/Boylan answered that the fact that an analyst is liberal should not be used to discredit his ability to understand issues and make unbiased analyses of them. Well, OK, but then why do these same liberals think it’s important to have a balance of races and genders in legislatures and on university faculties?

    The leftwing 3 B’s are simply not credible as news analysts unless they’re balanced by an equal number of conservatives. Does anyone want to reply that there are no conservative news analysts in Hawaii who have sufficient stature to be eligible to be on news analysis panels with the 3 B’s? Gosh. Does that mean the media are horribly biased? Gosh, does that help explain why Republicans fare so poorly in our elections?

    • Yes, Mfr. Conklin, I want to reply that there are no credible conservative news analysts (known to me) so their absence is not the result of media bias.

      What’s the basis of my opinon? For starters, if you saw Duke Aiona try to explain the dismal GOP performance in an election night panel appearance, you would know. He blamed it all on the Dems superior GOTV operations, fingering the unions in particular. First off, unions don’t vote, people do. Second, even if massive numbers of union members and supporters go automaton-like to the polls and vote for the candidates chosen by their masters, what did the GOP do to counter that? If their candidates are just as good or better and could win more votes than the Dems if people who knew it went out to vote, why didn’t they win?

      OK, maybe that fish was too easily shot in the barrel. Malia Zimmerman? She brings some good perspective but was simply awful on TV primary election night. She could barely get out a cogent sentence in a timely fashion. Her doppelganger Sam Slom? Naah, he was too busy celebrating the love shown him by his homogenous district. Or maybe someone like General Lee to opine on how wacky it was that the wacky tally in the U.S. Senate race were even wackier than the wacky polls had predicted?

      I’m sure there are some credible conservative commentaros out there that I’m missing, or at least I hope there are. Unless you enlighten us with some names and some credible commentary, I’m just going to have to say that the reason conservatives did so poorly is that there aren’t as many conservatives in Hawaii as there are liberals/progressives/moderates.

      Oh well, lucky we live Hawaii. Just as Texans felt lucky to live in the Longhorn State on election day in 2000 and 2004.

    • Ken, you should do yourself a favor and read this entire excellent piece from The Economist, which is anything BUT liberal:
      “So much for the comforting excuses. Sadly for Republicans, their party also has long-term problems, exposed by this election with alarming clarity. One is that party footsoldiers often pay lip service to the idea of a changing America, but few seem ready actually to see their party change: the proposed, but still-born, immigration reforms of Mr Rubio are anathema to the grassroots, for example. Many seem genuinely uncomfortable with the new America. Republican gatherings are strikingly white-skinned and grey-haired. Many in attendance voice nostalgia for a time when American workers lacked global competition from places like China, when traditional American (meaning their) values were unchallenged and—to cite their most frequent complaint—the poor either worked or went hungry.

      Democratic partisans have their faults: they can be tribal, inclined to believe conspiracy theories about rich elites, and to place too much faith in government intervention. But active Republicans, on average, sound angrier than other Americans. They tend to apocalyptic gloom, from the Iowa county party chairman encountered on November 5th who predicted rioting in the streets if Mr Obama were re-elected, to the numberless activists with theories about the president’s socialist leanings or America’s imminent bankruptcy.

  7. The reality is that the Republicans still hold control of the House of Representatives. And because house members run every two years, the people in THIS election wanted it that way. Given, the terrible situation the country is in (which won’t be fixed by this president), you can be pretty sure that the Republicans will be a force for years to come. This was just not their year for the White House.

  8. Great assortment, Ian.

    Please add Frank Rich’s New York magazine piece, “Fantasyland: Denial has poisoned the GOP and threatens the rest of the country. too.”

    As for Gerson, he should thank Nate Silver, not pillory him. Silver and others like him have exposed many pundits as shallow, phony poseurs who rely on breezy, unsubstantiated generalizations to make themselves relevant. In a perfect world, this should make it possible for fact-based issues analysis to come to the forefront, complemented by polling data interpretation that identifies who feels what and why about those issues.

    Don’t kill the messenger, I say.

  9. Fair enough, the Republicans are screwed, and deservedly so. However, we’re borrowing a trillion dollars a year and will continue doing so till 2016 at least. Medicare as presently constituted is unsustainable. Denial isn’t confined to the GOP, unfortunately.

    • I am dismayed by this whole discussion. Everyone is tossing around terms like liberal, conservative or moderate with abandon. I have been on this planet for 70 plus years and I still don’t know what they mean. My sense is that many other people don’t either. Worse yet, I am positive that person A thinks he knows what those terms mean as does person B, but if you get down to the details they are not thinking the same thing. In addition to that, those terms are fluid. What was called liberal 20 years ago may be considered moderate today.

      My personal label for discussions such as these is mental ————. I don’t use the word for fear that Ian will deep six my comment. Suffice to say that it refers to a solitary act which provides a certain amount of individual gratification but beyond that achieves no useful end.

      • You seem to know a lot about this unspeakable act. 😳

        • No more than anyone else who is honest with themselves. I don’t think I said anything about unspeakable; that’s your characterization.

        • con·serv·a·tive
          ? ?[kuhn-sur-vuh-tiv]
          1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

          ? ?[lib-er-uhl, lib-ruhl]
          1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.

          ? ?[adj., n. mod-er-it, mod-rit; v. mod-uh-reyt]
          1. a person who is moderate in opinion or opposed to extreme views and actions, especially in politics or religion.

          ? ?[stuhb-ern]
          1. unreasonably obstinate; obstinately unmoving: a stubborn child.
          2. fixed or set in purpose or opinion; resolute: a stubborn opponent of foreign aid.

  10. Ken, you lack credibility on any and every issue. Dr. Blair answered honestly on the issues on PBS Hawaii Thursday night.

  11. I keep trying to form a coherent, intelligent, reasoned response to all of this, but all I can come up with is:


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