After the past week and, well, the past twenty-four hours, I think it’s become clear to conservatives that their strategy to install Mitt Romney in the White House has failed. As strategies go, it had its charms: conservatives would only talk and watch and read other conservatives, thereby eliminating the possibility that they might hear or see or read anything that failed to conform to their prejudices. For months, this strategy seemed to be working. They had convinced themselves and each other that Obama, being the worst president in the history of the United States, couldn’t be elected again if the opposition candidate had some appeal to the center. So they chose Mitt Romney.
Unfortunately, Mitt Romney also chose them. He started to appeal to the conservative base in order to acquire what had already been delivered. He was supposed to bring in the centrists, but he and his campaign chose tactics designed to further secure the base. The irony is that his appeals to the base have only angered and alienated it. His “inelegant” iterations of their cherished theories have set the terms of the national debate against conservatives, such that any argument about equitable taxation must begin by discussing the 47 percent instead of job creation. In the war to frame the debate, conservatives now believe, Mitt Romney has unwittingly played the role of Benedict Arnold.
With the former opportunist Romney now considered an extremist, what are the actual extremists to do? If the past week is any indication, they are going to spend the next two months losing their shit to establish their bona fides. Now that they have no reason to appeal to center, or to rational thought generally, we are in for two months of:
Barack Obama has been building a cult of personality reminiscent of fascist leaders. That doesn’t mean he’s a fascist; it doesn’t mean that he’s Hitler or Mussolini or Stalin. But his semiotics and iconography are far more suited for a fascist country than a vibrant republic.
Of course Ben Shapiro has no clue what “semiotics” actually means, but it makes him sound like an authority on something, in this case the “fascist” field of branding. Instead of being annoyed that, from Shepard Fairey forward, the Obama campaign team has simply demonstrated a more sophisticated understanding of contemporary advertising than any of its Republican opponents, Shapiro wants to claim that the use of “iconography” is “far more suited for a fascist country than a vibrant republic.” And it doesn’t matter how many images of the Twin Towers falling or acting Presidents in flight suits you show him, Shapiro will never believe that any other administration has ever used the power of singular images to sway public opinion. It’s only ever been Obama.
This is but the tip of the iceberg.
The knotted fringes of the far right movement no longer have any reason to remain tangled, so as their weak coalitions unravel expect to hear more about every inane and insane theory that’s dogged the administration since before Inauguration Day 2009. I fully expect the next two months will witness some of the most absurd political theater ever to grace the American stage, and I fully expect that while some of it will make me weep for the state of our great republic, quite a bit of it will provide me with an endless hours of entertainment.