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October 6, 2013 - Harry Eagar
I am going to reprint a Facebook piece by my former Maui News colleague Rick Chatenever here (this is from his FB timeline, it wasn't put on his Maui News blog). At the end, he asks what readers think. Should you care to tell him, go to his FB page.
Like Rick, I grew up as an outsider (Italian Catholic in Georgia). Rick has spent his lifetime watching and thinking about movies, and I cannot think of a better way for an outsider to obtain insights into mainstream thinking than that. I always thought he understood Mr. and Mrs. Mass American better -- or at least, more sympathetically -- than I did. (Though neither of us watched television; there is a bottom stratum that it takes a strong stomach to dig into.)
I had not thought of the angle Rick presents at all, which is why I am relaying it. There may be something to it, although not, I believe, with Cruz.
Cruz is (as many, many people instantly recognized as soon as he came on the scene) a McCarthy. The key insight into McCarthy is that he was not an anticommunist, or indeed an anti- or pro- anything. McCarthy was a pure power monster. So is Cruz. If the theme of Rick's insight is currying favor to worm one's way inside an establishment, then Cruz hasn't done that.
Many people think Cruz is brilliant, smartest guy in the room. McCarthy came across that way, too; with his tremendous memory of facts (not all his numbers were invented) and events.
McCarthy was brilliant at co-opting an establishment, and so has Cruz been. But McCarthy had no staying power, in part because he was a drunk. It remains to be seen whether Cruz has. But I think Rubio is the smarter politician. Notice how he has kept relatively quiet recently. Unlike Cruz he is not going out of his way to antagonize the main party.
If Cruz and the Tea Party can really take firm control of the Republican Party, then Cruz rakes in all he chips. Clearly, the TP wants to. The invention of the word "to primary" as a verb proves that. But if the old party proves resilient, then Cruz disappears. Less than two years after he reached his peak, McCarthy was refused entrance to a Republican dinner and was found outside on the sidewalk weeping and blubbering.
Should the old party survive, then Rubio will be placed to be its leader. Not a suicide bomber but with some credibility with the salafist wing of the GOP, he will be the uniter. A Reagan, if you will.
Anyhow, Rick's statement follows:
I have a theory.
Keep in mind that my grandparents were Jews from Russia who wound up in Brooklyn in the early 1900s. I myself grew up as a motherless son to an atheist father in Bible Belt Oklahoma in the 1950s. So I know a little bit about wanting to fit into a society where you sense you really don't belong.
Which, I think, explains politicians like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and even Eric Cantor, who are doing their parts to undo American democracy as we know it.
At the risk of being politically incorrect and insensitive, it's all about assimilation. It's about desperately wanting to be accepted by a certain group, even though you know in your heart that they're bigots and bullies. It's wanting to prove yourself one of them.
Barack Obama is your nemesis. He's the one who overcame all the obstacles with almost otherworldly wisdom and grace. You will always hate him for that.
Your, uh, issues fit right into the old-fashioned, more genteel form of country club Republicanism that still can't believe that someone like Barack Obama is the smartest guy in the room . . . no matter what room.
Together, you have paralyzed the American political process into a something unrecognizable. Watching a member of the House of Representatives try to bully a female park ranger on TV last week, I found myself thinking he wasn't worthy of wearing that American flag so prominently displayed on his lapel.
This is not what America is all about.
Unfortunately, the discussion is so polarized that my words will only be read by those who already agree with them (and have the patience to read a screenful of words). We can't even agree to disagree any more.
American democracy was born with a pamphlet called “Common Sense.” I think its time has come again.
What do you think?
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