By now everyone who pays attention has heard about Bill O’Reilly’s quick mea culpa on his blustery condemnation of the MOW 50th anniversary events not inviting Republicans to speak. Of course they were invited to speak, lots of them. They all declined. O’Reilly, as usual spoke, loudly, without doing research. The apology was unusual, but good on him for that. Bad on him for not immediately guessing the truth and trying to use a lie to condemn the wrong side.
Hosts of Republican leaders and the lone black Republican in the Senate, Tim Scott (R-SC) were invited and none attended. They saw the entire commemoration as a Democratic event, which says all you need to know about their attitudes towards minorities, civil rights, and how the parties have evolved since 1963. This was sadly typical of recent years where Republicans have made declining invitations to join Democrats on social or symbolic occasions a regular thing. Republican officials and citizens have turned down invites to the White House to have dinner or watch movies or even to be honored there in the case of members of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins football team. Who does that? Turning down WH invites over political differences? When did that start?
When the Obamas held a reception for new members of Congress in January 2011, after the “shellacking” Democrats took in the 2010 election, 37 Republicans showed up. More than two-thirds of the freshman senators and House members swept in with the GOP tide stayed away.
It’s emblematic of how the GOP rolls today to note these behaviors. It’s not about political differences that can be discussed and compromised anymore. For the new GOP it’s personal, not political. Three decades plus of anti-Democratic, anti-liberal, anti-progressive propaganda has devolved the arguments from nuanced political stances into black and white, good and evil dichotomies.
We’re not just on differing sides of an argument today (who could agree on other days), no. The other side isn’t just wrong, they’re evil, possibly satanically inspired, and trying to destroy our civilization for shits and giggles.
Yeah, I guess I wouldn’t want to have cocktails with that creature either.
When the GOP was taken over by fundamentalists who have internalized all that anti-liberal propaganda and see every issue as “you’re either with us or against us” manichean arguments, this abdication of reason and comity was inevitable.
P.S. Cynthia Tucker’s piece explains what that means for the GOP’s internal politics. The Grand Old Party of Nihilists and Cranks