Why are the Conservatives so angry? What is it about President Obama that seems to unhinge them? Their angry political rhetoric has been a constant for years since it is a tool they use to get elected, but the level of the anger has sharply increased since Obama was inaugurated. This is not just a few select individuals. It seems to be a group characteristic of many of the extremist right-wing. This question has puzzled me for most of 2009.
But now I learn that the columnist Charles Krauthammer is one of the "Scoop" Jackson Democrats who switched to being a Neocon conservative from having been a speechwriter for Walter Mondale. Knowing a bit about the "Scoop" Jackson Democrats who went Republican, I think I can now answer that question that has been puzzling me. Krauthammer has published some of the most outlandishly insane columns since Obama was inaugurated and those columns have become increasingly outlandish and unhinged. That he was a Scoop Jackson Democrat explains his current outlandish thinking.
I didn't become aware of Krauthammer until he had already eaten the loco weed, so I was unaware that he had been a Scoop Jackson Democrat. That is a very illuminating event. The key characteristic of the Scoop Jackson Democrats that drove so many of them was to always oppose "evil" with force. Remember, Scoop Jackson was first elected to Congress in 1941. His tenure in Congress was shadowed by Pearl Harbor, WW II, and the nuclear bombing the "unrelentingly evil" Japanese. The attitudes of that period never left Jackson, and his aides were chosen to match.
The "Scoop" Jackson Neocon defectors from the Democratic Party to the Reaganites justified their move primarily because they objected strongly to the apparently feckless policies of Carter when he did not go after those they defined as "evil" with both feet and a nuke. Reagan promised what they wanted, so Wolfowitz, Pearl and so many switched over to the Republicans. As I said, I was unaware that Krauthammer was one of them.
To make a switch that extreme required strong motivation. And now I think they see Carter redux in Obama. Obama's not attacking "evil" the way Reagan and both Bush's promised to. In fact, he is claiming that he will back off, even reducing the blockade against Cuba and offering to open discussions with the Iranian government. And there is nothing they can do about it. Obama's currently in power as President. After the last eight years they are powerless to prevent him from - in their view - acting like he supports the evil doers by negotiating with the "evil" enemy. (Of course, those "evil" enemies declare that they are justified by the evil behavior of the oppressive Americans. That's impossible of course. Americans are a unique source of "good" in the world so such allegations must be lies and propaganda put out by the evil-doers.)
I think that's the motivation behind so many of the unhinged attitudes and statements from the extremist right-wing Republicans. They expect massive force to be applied to prevent the slightest gain by the evil-doers, and they don't see it in Obama in particular or in the Democrats/liberals who elected him in general. So they feel responsible for taking any possible action to limit the "damage" that Obama and the Democrats/liberals can do until they are replaced with people who know "what is really going on."
I'd say that goes to the misunderstanding that there actually is something that can be called an evil nation or an evil group. That misunderstanding personifies national policies and tries to put a single human face on those policies. It confuses the nature of an organization with a single human individual, a process that is totally inaccurate. That error is a problem because while individual humans can be evil, even when they rarely are, they don't see themselves that way. Instead they see themselves as the good ones, and when they fear strongly they attack what they fear.
When the target of their attacks is America, it feeds the American right-wing fantasy that the frightened attackers are evil as a group and they are attacking America based on their evil nature, not because they fear attack by an ignorant unthinking American colossus. Yet American representatives are frequently self-absorbed and generally ignorant of local conditions and proud of their ignorance.
Naturally in those conditions the enemy foreigners see the Americans as evil an take actions to defend themselves. The Americans then view this is unjustified attacks by evil foreigners, so no force expended to counter them is wrong or unjustified.That justifies the American use of military in preemptive invasions and justifies the use of torture on the recalcitrant evil-doers.
You'd think a board certified psychiatrist (Krauthammer) would recognize the inherent error of attempting to personify entire groups of people and even nations as "evil." I'd guess that he at some level realizes that if he did, his personal and financial support from the right-wing would disappear almost overnight. Certainly much or all of his ample paycheck and his personal acclaim would disappear. So he is in effect bought and paid for to be a right-wing propagandist, much as is Bill Kristol who frequently published his work. My bet is that he represses such thoughts and would be angry at reading what I have just written.
Similarly, Bill Kristol's rag, the Weekly Stnadard, would disappear overnight if Rupert Murdoch's subsidy money stopped, as would the Wall Street Journal's Editorial page in its current incarnation. Murdoch is one of the super wealthy defending his fortune from the masses. Much of the direstion and funding of the conservative ideologists is sources in such superwealthy individuals and families who are defending their fortunes and social standing.
I think that at the base the right-wing is so angry because that they firmly believe this mistaken idea that the word "evil" has meaning when applied to groups of people. It doesn't.They believe that groups can each be characterized by the face and image of a single individual. They don't accept that every group is made up of shifting coalitions of smaller groups, and that the spokesmen for the group merely represent the small subgroup that is momentarily dominant in that group. The more realistic view of every group is what makes negotiation frequently very effective to modify the policies and actions of the group. In the black-and-white personified view of a group, only overwhelming force can change the behavior of that group. it also misunderstands the nature of "evil."
Evil is a characteristic of individuals, and rather rare. "Evil" requires intent and a refusal to recognize the humanity of their victims. While groups can adopt policies that conduct evil actions, like slavery, such policies are instigated by people who refuse to recognize the humanity of their victims. The agents of those evil inhumanities may not be themselves evil. They are trained and motivated to the actions they conduct. Human beings are normally very dependent on the opinions of others around them, and tend to be quite empathic of those who they recognize as human. For such individuals to conduct truly evil actions on another results in guilt and is avoided. Generally even individuals who perform evil actions are doing so because they have been taught that the actions they take are justified and the victims are not themselves human. Any effective negotiator recognizes that motivation towards human empathy, or at least operates on that assumption.
What is common, however, is black or white thinking. That is especially common politically in Conservatives. In fact, the Conservative philosophies and ideologies are designed to attract people who do not make subtle distinctions among ideas. To them a person cannot be just a little bit evil or a little bit good. They must be totally good or totally evil. Since by definition we Americans are good, the others much be evil if they disagree with us. This is how the Neocons see American foreign policy.
If you believe that to be true, you must meet evil with overwhelming force to stop them. No limits on that force are justified since they are totally evil. Any compromise with total evil is a sur"24" is a good guy. Whatever HE does is good because he is the good guy!
Obama in their eyes is not one of the good guys or he'd be a Conservative Republican, so he and his liberal Democratic supporters are clearly evil. By definition, that means totally evil. There are no gradations of "a little evil" or "mostly evil." If one is evil, they are totally evil. There are no limits someone believing this will be held to. So the more extreme of the right-wingers - the active propagandists - have been spreading every story they can imagine to convince voters of the evil they think Obama.
Are these Conservatives really unhinged? Or do they really see themselves as the truly good guys battling the utterly evil with every weapon at their disposal? I don't think they are as insane as their crazy statements are. They are simply people who have been misled by propagandists who are using the propaganda fallacy of the excluded middle - that is, black and white thinking. They feel threatened by those who disagree with them, and they are using every tool in the book to defend themselves and those like them.