Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Suspension of Disbelief

According to the web site Bearing Drift, one of the Conservative sites I have been reading and commenting on lately, Tom Perriello cast the deciding vote in the House of Representatives for bringing terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to Virginia.

I can’t really tell if this is true or not. The vote seemed to concern whether to allow President Obama to use funds to close the prison, not actually to bring terrorists to Virginia. What’s more, while the vote did sport a margin of one, I can’t tell if Perriello’s was the deciding vote; after all, when the vote is decided by a margin of one, every vote is, in theory, the deciding vote.

But, whatever, I digress into logic.

No sooner did Bearing Drift publish this little news blurb than Bradley Rees, erstwhile Republican candidate for Congress from the 5th District, was all over it on Twitter. “My 2010 opponent just did THIS,” he effused, linking to Bearing Drift. A little later, he tweeted, “What’s Tom thinking? What am I missing?”

Bradley, don’t hang a fastball over the plate like that, man.

It really is Bearing Drift, a Republican website that seems smart and serious, that mystifies me. I rarely agree with anything I read there, but have enjoyed the debates I’ve had in comments sections over the past week.

But I simply do not understand why intelligent people traffic in such patent nonsense as Bearing Drift did in this news blurb.. I understand the short-term tactical benefit that Republicans hope to achieve with advancing such tripe – it is a convenient way to scare people that terrorists will be sharing their community and, presumably, turn them against Democrats and drive them back to the GOP.

To be frightened by such a patently absurd argument, however, requires what is known is the entertainment business as the suspension of disbelief. That is, you have to buy into the clearly absurd proposition that after closing Guantanamo, the terrorists will end up living in our communities.

And if you think that is too ridiculous of a thought for most people with some measure of common sense to believe, here is what one commenter at Bearing Drift had to say:
Several of the commenters here are missing the point about Gitmo. It is not just that they will be brought here, it is that when they are brought here they will be granted the rights of American citizens (which they are not) and then let go by some judge to roam around our streets and start new terrorist cells, because you know dang well that the fed will not be making sure they get sent back to wherever they came from. Which btw none of them want, because those people actually DO torture them.

Comments like this leave me not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

I have no idea whether this kind of false alarmist rhetoric will work against Perriello in the short term, although I tend to think that most people from any position along the political spectrum would, for the most part, tend to dismiss allegations like this after only a few moments of actual thought, as the arguments proffered to establish them are completely untethered from reality.

Regardless, Democrats and Progressives have nothing to fear from such propaganda.

Republicans, on the other hand, ought to be afraid. Very afraid.

These arguments may appeal to the “Black Helicopter” portion of the GOP base, and, of course, some voters will just not have any independent basis to know whether or not terrorists will be moving into their neighborhoods, so they may be easily swayed by an argument like this.

This dynamic can win the GOP a local House of Delegates, or even congressional, election in Virginia, but the GOP's days of dreaming about sustainable political leadership or change are in the past.

Over the long run I am confident that Republican reliance on arguments like this have been and will continue to erode the credibility of the GOP because they are insulting to voters. In this case, for example, 99% of Virginia citizens will not notice a difference in their day-to-day lives whether these detainees are in Guantanamo or Alexandria, and they will soon enough realize they have been fooled, once again, by GOP rhetoric.

And if you are curious why our friends from the other side the aisle never seem to learn from mistakes like this, it is because they do not seem, at least as far as I can tell, to perceive the disclosure of the fact that they are full of it to have anything to do with people perceiving them negatively.

Ask them, and they will tell you it is the fault of the liberal media.

To my new friends at Bearing Drift, keep it up, guys. Remember, the election of Progressives benefits you, too.

1 comment:

  1. Great job, as usual Alan. You posted this as I was writing my thoughts. What is striking is how Republican blogs all picked up on this and spouted the exact same three talking points: Tom voted with Pelosi, Tom cast the deciding vote, and the affect of which will bring terrorists to Virginia.