I am re-publishing this diary with a major revision and a new title.
Looking at the media coverage of the Super Committee's failure to reach agreement I saw a piece from CNN that sounded like it might shed some light on what led to this utter failure of American government. I was disappointed. CNN's "Analysis" went with false equivalence to explain the failure.
Analysis: Super committee reflects our own super failure
By Alan Silverleib, CNN
It is a failure of political leadership on both sides of the partisan aisle," said Brown University political scientist Wendy Schiller.
"Both parties chose their own electoral livelihoods over the good of the country, and it is outright shameful. ... This might be the most self-serving, mediocre and uncaring set of legislators in Congress in the last 50 years."
While CNN gets the underlying reasons for the Super Committee's failure spectacularly wrong, David Frum puts his finger on the real cause for this impasse in a new piece in NY Magazine.
I don't usually agree with much that David Frum writes, but I do have to agree with him on his main point in the article: That the Republican Party has lost its ability to distinguish reality from the belief system based on self serving myths the Republican Party's radicals fabricated to support their extreme policy prescriptions.
When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?
This past summer, the GOP nearly forced America to the verge of default just to score a point in a budget debate. In the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Depression, Republican politicians demand massive budget cuts and shrug off the concerns of the unemployed. In the face of evidence of dwindling upward mobility and long-stagnating middle-class wages, my party’s economic ideas sometimes seem to have shrunk to just one: more tax cuts for the very highest earners.
Frum points to things like this radically myopic G.O.P. approach to economic policy, and creating and clinging to the preposterous narrative that Obama is a socialist.
No counterevidence will dissuade them from this belief: not record-high corporate profits, not almost 500,000 job losses in the public sector, not the lowest tax rates since the Truman administration.
Frum identifies three main factors that dove the Republican Party's break with reality.
1. Fiscal Austerity and Economic Stagnation
Frum describes conservatives as feeling victimized, and how the GOP creates straw men to use as scapegoats for that sense of victimization. Scapegoats like Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the needy poor.
2. Ethnic Competition
He writes about how the GOP uses the politics of resentment against minorities and immigrants to attract the allegiance of disaffected non college educated whites who are seeing their standard of living eroded. This is the same preserve dynamic Thomas Franks wrote about in his book "What's the matter with Kansas".
Last but not least Frum looks at what we call the Right Wing Noise Machine.
3. Fox News and Talk Radio
Frum discribes how Fox News and Fright Wing Radio sets the hook and reels the Wngnuts in.
The business model of the conservative media is built on two elements: provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel). As a commercial proposition, this model has worked brilliantly in the Obama era. As journalism, not so much.
He goes on to describe the integrated system that has evolved into the Republican myth manufacturing apparatus that has created a whole alternative universe for conservatives that is completely detached from reality.
But the thought leaders on talk radio and Fox do more than shape opinion. Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics.
Now we are all entitled to our own facts, and conservative media use this right to immerse their audience in a total environment of pseudo-facts and pretend information.
This is why communication and dialog between the doctrinaire Republican radicals and Democrats has broken down so completely as the so called Super Committee is demonstrating so dramatically today. The Republican Party dwells in a twisted alternative universe of its own creation. Its like trying to have a logical conversation with a schizophrenic who has voices in their head shouting irrational instructions at them during the conversation.
It’s one thing to worry (wisely) about the long-term trend in government spending, and another to demand big, immediate cuts when 25 million are out of full-time work and the government can borrow for ten years at 2 percent.
That directly relates to the reckless brinkmanship we're seeing today from the radical Republicans as the Super Committee gropes for and agreement between the polarized Parties.
As America's democracy teeters on the brink of unraveling completely Frum makes this observation on where our politics is now heading.
The conservative shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology has ominous real-world consequences for American society. The American system of government can’t work if the two sides wage all-out war upon each other: House, Senate, president, each has the power to thwart the others.
Sage words from a conservative who can still see the bigger picture, and not only the GOP's alternative reality.
Too bad CNN is more worried about maintaining an illusion of even-handedness than showing its viewers the bigger picture.