Tag Archive: Michael Dukakis

The Republican Party’s twisted masculinity

Republican U.S. Senate candidate and alleged child predator Roy Moore, dressed as a cowboy.

The latest revelations regarding Donald Trump‘s affair with and payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels don’t seem to be fazing Republicans. The reaction seems to be no more negative within the GOP than when Trump was caught on tape bragging to “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush about sexually assaulting women. Trump’s ex-wife, Ivana, even accused Trump of raping her, and some 19 women have also accused Trump of sexually assaulting or harassing them. This yawn from Republicans about Trump’s conduct toward women extends to many other Republican politicians as well. For example, U.S. Senator David Vitter was caught and admitted hiring prostitutes in 2007, and was re-elected in 2010. Likewise, Newt Gingrich has been a top Republican presidential contender and adviser for years, even though he is a serial adulterer who presented his first wife with divorce terms as she lay in a hospital bed recovering from cancer surgery. That these Republican men never seem to be punished by their supposedly “family values” base for sexual misconduct or mistreatment of women may be because the Republican Party thrives on a twisted notion of masculinity.

Messaging Maxim #4: Feed the Narrative

MSNBC’s Ed Schultz solved a 2012 election mystery on Wednesday, by featuring the man who shot the infamous Willard Mitt Romney “47% video” in a one-on-one interview. What made the video by bartender Scott Prouty so devastating to Romney’s presidential campaign was that Romney’s controversial “47%” remarks, as well as other statements, such as those regarding a brutal Chinese sweatshop that Romney visited with the purpose of purchasing for Bain Capital, fed into a narrative that already existed about Romney as:

Republican Politics of Projection

As a younger voter in 1988, I remember when then-Vice President and presidential candidate George H.W. Bush stood in front of Boston Harbor and slammed his opponent, Massachusetts Governor Mike Dukakis, for the pollution in Boston Harbor. I was shocked because the U.S. had just gone through eight years of a Reagan-Bush administration that had attacked and dismantled every environmental protection that it possibly could, including fighting the very cleanup of Boston Harbor.  This was perhaps the beginning of the modern Republican Politics of Projection — accusing your opponent of doing the very thing that you have been doing — as practiced by Bush’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater.

Atwater had a young protégé, Karl Rove, who perfected the Republican Politics of Projection during George W. Bush’s presidency. Thus, for example, we had Bush administration officials approving and abetting the kidnapping and torture of suspects and the illegal warrantless wiretapping of Americans at home, then turning around and accusing those who criticized such actions of “hypocrisy” and being “out of bounds”.

Today, the Republican Politics of Projection continues in full force. Republicans in Congress vote for Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget that would end Medicare as we know it, then raise phony objections about Democrats “cutting Medicare” when the Affordable Care Act cut funds from a private program called Medicare Advantage that is not part of the actual Medicare benefit. Likewise, Republicans raise the spurious charge of “voter fraud” in order to commit the true voter fraud of vote suppression via unreasonable and unfair voter i.d. laws. Or how about when Republicans carp about Democratic-appointed or “activist” judges who “legislate from the bench”, when it is the Republican-appointed, so-called “conservative” judges who do this, such as in the infamous Bush v. Gore and Citizens United cases, with Republican approval. If New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were running for president today, Republicans would probably call President Obama “fat”.

The Republican Politics of Projection can be stated with the Republicans’ own simple term: hypocrisy. It is a very popular and effective tactic in the Republican playbook, and Democrats and progressives need to identify it and speak out whenever they see it, in order to lessen its power.