Monday, August 30, 2010

Restoring...What Exactly?

Glenn Beck's tent revival meeting this past Saturday was headlined as "Restoring Honor".

As far as fizzy bromides go, "restoring honor" seems like a nice enough thing to do.  It has a sepia-toned, nostalgic ring for those who pine for "the good, old days" -- quite in line with a conservative talk-show host like Beck who is fond of old-timey radio microphones, Nick-at-Night-era television sets and schoolhouse chalkboards.  But, as Billy Joel famously sang:  the good old days weren't always good.

They were for Beck's crowd, though...or, at least, this group of Americans believes they were.  Ironically, those "good, old days" were largely brought to them by the government policies of the New Deal and an economy revved up by a world war and sustained by a decades-long cold war.  But don't tell this crowd that; they're conservatives now.  Just like the Party of Lincoln became the Party of Reagan and the southern block of Democrats became the southern block of Republicans, this group has changed its stripes -- not so much because of politics, but because of public relations and propaganda.

Restoring Honor.  Ostensibly, it's the country's honor they are talking about and it has clearly been besmirched in some way.  How exactly?  And by whom?  Sarah Palin had this to say:  "We must not fundamentally transform America as some would want.  We must restore America and restore her honor."  She is clearly talking about Obama and the Democrats, but she leaves the whats and hows of this fundamental transformation up to her audience to identify.  It's coded language -- a dog whistle to those who look around and can no longer see their Ozzie and Harriet childhoods (if they were ever there in the first place).  Somehow, "I Like Ike!" has morphed into "Yes, We Can!" and it scares the bejesus out of them.  The rabble-rousers of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago are now running things!  The barbarians are no longer at the gate; they're in the house, with their feet up on the furniture, ordering in pizza and dating your daughter!

Just look at the Beck crowd, or any Palin crowd.  This may be what a crowd looks like in Kansas or Idaho or Maine, but it doesn't look like any of the crowds I've seen in the last 20 years of my adult life.  It's white.  It's Christian.  It's suburban or rural.  It's older.  Now ask yourself which group has lost some of its influence and power over the last few generations...because they had a disproportionate amount of it to be begin with and because the country's demographics continue to trend away from them.  Add to that an economy that has been truly fundamentally transformed by corporate greed and corruption and you get a group that feels it has been hung out to dry.

Corporate America doesn't have a face, but the government does...and it's black.  It's also ridiculously well-educated, well-traveled, poly-lingual, with diverse religious, ethnic and national traditions and backgrounds.  Despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary, his true citizenship is questioned; his true religion is questioned; his true politics is questioned; in short, his very qualifications to be President are routinely questioned, as if "the American People" had been mugged in a dark alleyway and forced to elect this dastardly, obviously-un-American interloper.

But don't you dare call such an accusation -- implicit or explicit -- racist.  The only racist in this scenario, according to none other than Glenn Beck himself, is Barack Obama -- who, despite being fully half-white, has some "deep-seated hatred for white people".


I wonder if Barack Obama knew, when he decided to run for President, that this decision would sully America's honor?

Tomorrow:  The Plan.