So Rick Santorum said over the weekend that "elite smart people" will never support the Republican Party, and we all had a good laugh, because for probably the only time ever, we all agreed with him about something. But Santorum wasn't going off script, didn't mis-speak or commit a great gaffe. In fact, he was just spouting the party line that Republicans have been using for a long time now -- that the academic snobs at our liberal/radical universities hate the Republican Party, because blah blah blah something.
This is all part of a bigger strategy Republicans have to control the message and reassure their base. Consider the following:
• Republicans insist that the mainstream, “lame-stream” media are all rooting for the Democratic Party, and their reporting is consistently biased.
• Faced with criticism from our allies and the UN about the war in Iraq, George Bush says he won’t allow foreign countries to make US national security decisions.
• Republicans decry “activist” judges who “legislate from the bench.”
• Republican leaders and pundits insist that climate scientists are frauds trying to get funding.
• Romney campaign says they “are not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”
• Rick Santorum is just the latest Republican to claim that the intellectually elite are on the side of Democrats, not because that’s the smart thing of course, but because they want to tell us all what to do, or something…
There is a consistent theme there, a message to the faithful: You don't have to believe anyone who disagrees with us, no matter how smart, no matter their profession or expertise, no matter what facts or reasoning, because they all hate us. And we are not even going to try to respond with evidence or logic, because we can can just fall back on They Hate Us, for our freedoms maybe.
And this leads inevitably to another conclusion: The Republican leadership realizes that the things they say and the things they do cannot stand up to scrutiny. Our allies are going to condemn their abuses. Judges are going to overturn their unconstitutional laws. Economists will point out that their policies don't work. Scientists will say that they are destroying the environment. Reporters will expose their hypocrisies. Fact-checkers will call them liars. So they have devised a strategy up front to be able to tell their base, "It's OK. You don't have to believe the experts. You can just believe us and Fox and Rush." Everyone else is out to get you.
And it makes it so much easier to just say whatever you want.