Right wingers whine. A lot. So....what is their payoff?
I collected right wing whining stories from the month of January 2014 to see if I spotted any themes. I had more than 40 by the third week of the month [A summary of my top 10 in right-wing whining for the month is below, linked to the original stories].
Impressionistically, I thought there was a lot of right-wing whining over the past several years, and my hope was to get a sense of its volume and persistence. I picked right-wing whining to look at because I thought the category “lying” would be too big. It turns out that whining was plenty.
My initial reaction is that right wingers get multiple, sometimes overlapping, payoffs from whining:
It communicates, and reinforces, tribal identity. Like racist “dog whistle” statements that are understood by the speaker and intended audience to convey racial animus, whiners and their intended audience circle the wagons against the threatening “others” who are being so unfair: prosecutors, investigative committees, the media, liberals, etc.
It is the start of the ask for money. Whining is just part of the grift. I am looking at you, Mike Huckabee.
It is part of authoritarian worldview. Not all Republicans are authoritarian personalities, but pretty much all authoritarians (either followers or leaders) are right-wingers. The authoritarian followers like to be told who they can hate, and scapegoating is a big part of the authoritarian leader playbook.
Distraction from, and distortion of, the facts. Right wingers also use whining to divert attention from the underlying bad behavior that they are accused of. I am old enough to remember Spiro Agnew’s attacks on “left-wing media bias.” Before modern-day “both sides do it” stenography style journalism was invented, reporters actually liked to break stories about politicians doing stupid things in office. Since Republicans—then and now--did more stupid stuff than Democrats, Spiro griped reporters hated Republicans. Over the years, those “liberal media” attacks have hardened into an article of faith on the right.
The goal of Republican policies is to transform America into a third-world banana-republic dystopian hellscape (the phrase “dystopian hellscape” should be TM Digby, who sees deeply, writes concisely, and is the poet laureate of exasperation with the American political elites). For right-wingers, whining is just another cheer for the home team at their pep rally for the Apocalypse.
For January 2014’s top hits in right wing whining and victimization, please follow me over the fold.
“Political” prosecutors: Bob McDonald and his wife got indicted in Virginia for soliciting and accepting $150k of personal gifts and lying to federal investigators. Dinesh D’Sousa got indicted for laundering $20k of campaign funds. Per Drudge, this represents the Department of Justice is “unleashing the dogs” against Obama’s critics.
While I think the dollar amount in each of these cases is pretty small beer compared to John Boehner punching a $24 billion hole in the economy by backing a government shutdown he admitted he knew was doomed from the start, it is not illegal for John Boehner to be stupid and to impose needless harm on thousands of Americans. Breaking campaign and graft laws is illegal, and deserves prosecution even if the amounts are sub-one billion range.
“Kristallnact” for the one percent: Jamie Dimon’s bank, JP Morgan, paid about $20 billion in fines in 2013, for committing crimes—that’s what fraud is, a crime—with multi-billion impacts. He too deserves prosecution, but instead got a $20 million salary. It is hard to make paying $20 billion in fines look like an achievement, but Jamie did, and as Elizabeth Warren notes, it means the JP Morgan board recognizes how much less JP Morgan paid than it rightfully should have.
Nonetheless, self-pitying venture capitalist Tom Perkins got space in the Wall Street Journal to whine about how taxes and stuff were like Nazi Germany, with Kristallnact actually in the title. The coverage in the Times from Davos Plutocracy Woodstock included similar amounts of whining about the rich regarding how little they are appreciated and how, apparently, blue blood leads to thin skin.
War on Women: The phrase “war on women” gets under GOP skin so much, it should be part of every speech by every Democrat every single day. And better: The GOP can’t help itself, it just keeps coming up with fresh examples to illustrate the point: Here, here, here, to name a few. Mike Huckabee won the month by talking about “libidos.”
Christ Christie? What about Benghazi? GOP whiners claim that if reporters don’t take their statements at face value they have a political agenda. And if you are a Village stenographer, you slavishly follow whatever Bright Shiny Object the GOP puts in your line of sight. The unified “look over there” GOP game plan in the week after Bridge-gate is exhibit A.
Kill parents, ask for mercy as an orphan: Right-wing uber-shill Fred Luntz claims to be sad there was so much polarization in politics after spending his life creating it.
“Quit twisting my words by quoting me verbatim.” Louis Gohmert is probably a candidate for whining Hall of Fame. Some of us remember when Rudy Guilianiwas actually a federal prosecutor who took on banksters, but that was a long time ago.
If liberals produce violent movies, STFU about guns: A comment to the article said it all: “Weinstein profits from fake gun violence...it is a movie after all. Cruz and the NRA profit from real gun violence, that's why they're the assholes.”
Poor, poor Kochs. They couldn’t bully Rachel Maddow into reading a script they prepared for her disavowing her accurate reporting on their nefarious actions. Her response to them: “You not wanting to be known for something that you have done is not the same thing as you not having done it…. Being a political actor means being subject to political scrutiny. If you don’t want to be known for it, DON'T DO IT. Don’t just complain when people accurately describe your actions. Your actions are what we are reporting on and we will do that on our own terms as a free press. If you want to control the words that are used when your actions are discussed, then speak for yourself.”
Go Galt. In fact, please go now, and never come back. Andrew Cuomo said the kind of Republican who could win an election in Alabama would find it harder in New York. Sean Hannity throws a hissy fit and threatens to leave NY. Promises, promises.
Nation Recalls Simpler Time When Health Care System Was Broken Beyond Repair. Right-wingers so desperately want to talk about how Obamacare is bad for them they just make shit up, including in the State of the Union response.
This diary is not encyclopedic. There was plenty of other whining I could have discussed, but we can be sure there will be more to come.