Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Swamp Monster from Xenophobia

Glenn Greenwald has a scorecard on how the President's immigration speech was received by the "conservative base."

In a word (or, to be precise, two): no bueno.

Among the reviews listed in Glenn's post, this comment from Right Wing News is most directly relevant to my half-baked, half-serious thesis that a certain number of conservatives treat politics as nothing more a baseball game:
[...] to be truthful, as often as not, I got the impression that the bloggers who said they liked the speech were reading out of the old "root, root, root for the home team playbook" rather than genuinely being enthused about what Bush had to say.
On the other hand, here's a far more prosaic reaction from a disgruntled fan of the "home team":

Take your 'virtual' fence and your hi-tech vaporware coupled with your amnesty plan and shove them up your ass, Jorge.

And Jesse Walker (of Reason Magazine) has a fascinating, if preliminary, answer to the question I pondered a few hours ago: "how, seemingly overnight, illegal immigration became the one threat whose 'mismanagement' could turn the conservative movement against Bush." Why immigration? Why now?

Walker quotes Charles Alexander's The Ku Klux Klan in the Southwest, about the rise of nativism after World War I:

During the war the American people had been subjected to the first systematic, nationwide propaganda campaign in the history of the Republic. From both official and unofficial sources poured a torrent of material having the objective of teaching Americans to hate -- specifically to hate Germans but, more broadly, everything that did not conform to a formalized conception of "100 percent Americanism." In the fall of 1918, just as the indoctrination process was reaching its peak, as patriotic feeling was mounting to frenzy, the war came abruptly to an end. Americans who had stored up an enormous volume of superpatriotic zeal now no longer had an official enemy on whom to concentrate this fervor.

The answer may well be the simple one: that Bush and Rove and Cheney and their GOP minions have beckoned the Swamp Monster from Xenophobia and now they can't control it.