A Glimmer Of Hope For The GOP? Nah, Not So Much

It happened in Delta County, Colorado. Was it a fluke? Was it a misstep by party officials? Did they not get the memo that shame is dead and gone because Donald Drumpf killed it and is hiding the remains in his cantaloupe-colored comb-over?

Delta County’s population is around 30,000 folks, mostly white folks. Uh, mostly white Republican folks—Obama only received 29% of the vote in 2012. You get the idea. But there was something positive that came out of Delta County on Sunday. Let’s start, though, with the negative:

ScreenHunter_4820 May. 30 16.40Republicans in Delta County, Colorado are seemingly scrambling after a racist photo likening President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee was posted on a top official’s Facebook page.

The photo briefly appeared on a Facebook page belonging to Linda Sorenson, who chairs the county Republican Central Committee, and was captured by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

The image was taken from the Ronald Reagan film Bedtime for Bonzo, and shows Reagan bottle-feeding the titular chimpanzee, with a caption saying, “I’ll be damned … Reagan used to babysit Obama.”

We’ve all seen this stuff so many times it doesn’t surprise anymore. Such is how, in the age of The Scary Negro, Republicans make themselves feel better. But what surprised me a little bit was what happened after the Grand Junction newspaper confronted some local GOP officials with the fact that their leader, Linda Sorenson, admitted to a progressive blogger the following about her Facebook post:

I really don’t care if people are offended by it. Un-friend me. Stop looking at me on Facebook.

That is the Drumpf response, right? I mean that’s what the GOP has come to these days. Don’t back down when you’re caught doing or saying something offensive. Own it. Hell, double down on it. But the reaction of two other local party officials was more traditional. According to the newspaper, the vice chairman of the party said,

This whole thing is a hoax. Someone got into the Facebook somehow. It was hacked and somebody got into it, definitely.

The treasurer for the party said,

That whole thing is bogus. Somebody hacked Linda Sorenson’s Facebook page, and posted that out there. We believe it has something to do with Media Matters. They’ve been harassing her the last few weeks.

Now, that is the old GOP right there. Don’t own it. Don’t admit to it. Just say it was the liberal media’s fault. And in that more traditional way of handling things like this we have at least a teensy-weensy slice of hope that Drumpf hasn’t quite finished off the idea of shame in the Republican Party after all. The Grand Junction paper reported that it had asked the local vice chairman why someone would want to hack Ms. Sorenson’s Facebook page. He said,

I have no idea…Just to damage the Republican Party, no doubt. … Just to make us look bad.

You see that? This man is worried that the party will “look bad.” How refreshing is that, after months and months of Drumpf? A Republican Party official is actually out there worried about the image of the Republican Party! Who knew?

A few months ago, Ezra Klein fretted over Drumpf’s “complete lack of shame.” Klein wrote:

It’s easy to underestimate how important shame is in American politics. But shame is our most powerful restraint on politicians who would find success through demagoguery. Most people feel shame when they’re exposed as liars, when they’re seen as uninformed, when their behavior is thought cruel, when respected figures in their party condemn their actions, when experts dismiss their proposals, when they are mocked and booed and protested.

Trump doesn’t. He has the reality television star’s ability to operate entirely without shame, and that permits him to operate entirely without restraint. It is the single scariest facet of his personality. It is the one that allows him to go where others won’t, to say what others can’t, to do what others wouldn’t.

Yes. Drumpf is shameless. He is crass. He is unpredictable. He is ignorant. He’s a bigot’s bigot. But his party’s leadership, at least most of them, have embraced his shamelessness and crassness. And the party itself is coming to terms with his unpredictability and his ignorance and his bigotry.

Marco Rubio is the latest enabler. After Drumpf humiliated him in the primary by way of nasty insults, and after Rubio called Drumpf a “con artist” and a “lunatic,” Little Marco recently said he would be “honored” to speak for Drumpf at the convention. Honored. He actually said the word honored. Oh. My.

But once upon a time there was a different Rubio. One who said of Drumpf and the effect he was having on the country:

This is a man who in rallies has told his supporters to basically beat up the people in the crowd and he’ll pay their legal fees. Someone who’s encouraged people in the audience to rough up anybody who says something he doesn’t like… This is what a culture and society looks like when everybody says whatever the heck they want. When everybody goes around saying I’m just gonna speak my mind. If I’m angry, it gives me the right to say or do anything I want.

Well, there are other people who are angry too, and if they speak out and say whatever they want, the result is it all breaks down. It’s called chaos. It’s called anarchy. And that’s what we’re careening towards in our political process… And you wonder whether we’re headed in a different direction today, where we’re no longer capable of having differences of opinion but in fact now protests become a license to take violence, to take on your opponents physically.

Forget about the election for a moment, there’s a broader issue in our political culture in this country, and this is what happens when a leading presidential candidate goes around feeding into a narrative of anger and bitterness and frustration, and I think we all need to take a step back and ask ourselves: Are we contributing to this?

That was a damned good question. And Rubio has answered it for himself. He has every intention of contributing to “this.” He is willingly contributing to it. He is “honored” to contribute to it. Talk about shamelessness.

Marco Rubio, as well as other Republicans who have stained themselves orange, makes those party officials in Delta County, Colorado—those who actually want to distance themselves from a racist Facebook post because it makes the party “look bad”—appear quaint, makes them look out of step with the new GOP.

Sadly, though, it’s a good bet that those white party officials in Delta County will, like most of the locals they represent, run to the polls in November and vote for Drumpf. Why? Because people like Marco Rubio, John McCain, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, John Boehner, and, yes, Paul Ryan, are in the process of telling them it’s okay to do so, telling them that conscientious Republicans no longer have to be conscientious.

They no longer have to be ashamed of shamelessness.

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9 Comments

  1. Shame is something that only people they don’t like should feel. Feeling shame doesn’t imply that you know what you did was wrong, only that you are being publicly scolded for something. So what you see here is a gradual shift from efforts to avoid media publicity of their scolding to ignoring media publicity of their scolding. Not all of them have got the message yet.

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    • From Merriam-Webster’s definition of “shame”:

      • : a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong

      • : ability to feel guilt, regret, or embarrassment

      • : dishonor or disgrace

        In this situation, the two officials who tried to blame it on Media Matters were feeling shame in the sense of “dishonor or disgrace” for their party. In Drumpf’s situation, it is impossible, apparently, for him to feel any shame whatsoever.

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      • There’s a lot of overlap between psychopathy and narcissism. The critical distinction is that narcissists need attention and are emotionally hurt when they don’t get it, psychopaths don’t need attention and are virtually immune from emotional injury. Even negative attention is enough to satiate a narcissist such as shame and humiliation. The evidence leans heavily towards Trump being a narcissist and that he feeds on shame as he does on praise, accusations of racism have the opposite effect of what is expected with “normal” people.

        That being said, narcissism is not particularly common, so shame/dishonor does have the expected effect on most people, but if most of the people around you are racists, you’re not going to get shamed for being a racist.

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        • I don’t toss around the word racist all that much, but one cannot deny that racists are attracted to Drumpf’s campaign. There is, by the way, a sort of collective narcissism going on among anxious and fearful white folks who can see they are losing cultural dominance and who see in Drumpf a last chance to save what’s left of their privilege. I don’t think most folks like that are classic racists, but their grievances are race-based in my opinion.

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          • Trump’s supporters are overwhelmingly racist. This is not simply tossing around the expression, we can quite confidently see none of them are anti-racist and none of them are even attempting to defend Trump’s open racism. The fact is that most people are racists just as most people are religious and both of those overlapped groups are declining, contributing to what is actually happening which is desperation or panic.

            Narcissism isn’t an emotional state or reaction, it’s a psychological disposition which does not change significantly over a person’s lifetime. People can’t be narcissistic collectively. Narcissists don’t get along with other narcissists because they compete for attention. What we’ve been seeing the whole election cycle since before you started your Bernie whining was the whole Republican party collectively falling into desperation. This is a state from which they inevitably lose, a fate which Trump could not possibly save them from because he has no tools to even salve that condition, in fact he’s feeding on it and making it worse.

            Desperation or panic is an emotional state of a person or team or group which is NOT on the verge of victory, it’s the state of people who know with a deep sense of dread and certainty that their defeat is inevitable. They know it, they show it through their emotions, therefore we know it. The Republican Party is collectively burnt out. Their roster of moron candidates, which Trump tops, was always their fireworks show to parade their desperation.

            One of the signs of desperation is a lack of planning, no tactics, no strategy. And Trump is a poster boy for not having any plans. Seeking out someone who is literally the opposite of what you need is a classic sign.

            Masses of panicked people can easily be convinced to do things that are obviously not in their best interest. Trump is inadvertently taking advantage of this. Trump is not one to know why or how he has their attention since before recently they would not have given him the time of day and the party has worked hard to cover up and ignore why they all rejected him before especially now that he has the nomination.

            The major cause of this is the psychological fatigue of internally defending their collective identity from the shame of their own politics, which is basically where the Democrats were after Vietnam. And of course, the fact that their prime wedge issue has run it’s course in every state that it could leads to inevitable state of emptiness that satisfying shallow desires gets you. And what are you supposed to do when no one can get abortion in your state? What extreme policy do you approach next? And your state is bankrupt from tax cuts, so you have no movement there either. They really know they got nothing.

            When your opposition has laid down on a platter for you like this, why oh why would you waste it by appeasing them?

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  2. In the hierarchy of shamelessness, Rubio must rank at the top of the scale. He is an intelligent man who has thought through the issues and articulated the moral aspects, yet still avidly prostitutes himself. He and Christy are morally bankrupt.

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