No Comment — November 30, 2011, 11:12 am

A Club of Liars, Demagogues, and Fools

The German newsweekly Spiegel takes the latest disclosures concerning Herman Cain and the rise of Newt Gingrich as an opportunity to offer a foreign bird’s-eye view of the current Republican Party and the American media froth around it. My translation:

“Africa is a country. The Taliban rule in Libya. Muslims are terrorists. Immigrants are mostly criminals, Occupy Wall Street protesters are always dirty. And women who claim to have been sexually molested should kindly keep quiet.”

Welcome to the wonderful world of the Republican Party. Or rather: to the distorted world of its presidential campaign. For months it has coiled through the country like a traveling circus, from debate to debate, from scandal to scandal, contesting the mightiest office in the world — and nothing is ever too unfathomable for them… These eight presidential wannabes are happy enough not only to demolish their own reputations but also that of their party, the once worthy party of Abraham Lincoln. They are also ruining the reputation of the United States.

They lie, deceive, scuffle and speak every manner of idiocy. And they expose a political, economic, geographic and historical ignorance compared to which George W. Bush sounds like a scholar. Even the party’s boosters are horrified by the spectacle…

Platitudes in lieu of programs: in serious times that demand the smartest, these clowns offer blather that is an insult to the intelligence of all Americans. But as with all freak shows, it would be impossible without a stage, the U.S. media, which has been neutered by the demands of political correctness, and a welcoming audience, a party base that seems to have been lobotomized overnight. Notwithstanding the subterranean depths of the primary process, the press and broadcasters proclaim one clown after the next to be the new frontrunner, in predictable news cycles of forty-five days.

Spiegel ties the disintegration of the Republican Party to the Tea Party, “a ‘popular movement’ that was sponsored by Fox News and never showed any interest in the business of government — neither in information nor intellect, which are its requisites, but rather in a self-marketing exercise driven by commissions and millions.”

The most important observation Spiegel offers is this: At a time of mounting crisis, when much of the world is looking to the United States for leadership and initiative, the celebration of sleaze and ignorance that has marked the Republican primary is damaging the reputation of the nation as a whole. Even those who despise the G.O.P. should be concerned about the depths to which the party has sunk.

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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

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