Halloween Special: Republican Zombies Stalk A Cold War Bogeyman!

W.J. Astore

It’s Halloween, America, which perhaps explains the gruesome results of the latest Republican presidential debate.  I watched a sliver of them (terrifying!), and read as much as I could stand of the debate transcript (horrifying!).  As usual, the Republicans want you to be afraid, very afraid, of the bogeyman.  With respect to the economy, the bogeyman is variously described as a socialist, a Bolshevik, even a Menshevik (!), someone who favors big government to make all of your decisions on health care, education, and what not.

The Republican solution?  Trust the free market!  Empower the makers by cutting their taxes.  Vilify the moochers and takers while starving them of their entitlement candy.  Something like this cartoon, perhaps:


Long ago, George H.W. Bush described Reagan’s “supply side” tax plan as “voodoo economics.”  That’s the idea you can cut taxes on the richest and most privileged Americans, thereby supposedly stimulating investment and growth, in which case the benefits would “trickle down” to the lowest of Americans on the economic ladder, even as the federal budget miraculously balanced itself.

If you thought that voodoo was thirty-five years in the grave, think again.  It’s been exhumed from the graveyard of dead ideas, stalking us yet again, this time from the stage of that presidential debate in Boulder, Colorado.

For me, the scariest part of the Republican debate was its total lack of original ideas.  Talk of Bolshevism is Cold War rhetoric that was dead a generation ago; supply-side economics was dead on arrival almost two generations ago; but like zombies these dead ideas are consuming the brains of the Republican candidates.

I don’t need to watch the TV series “The Walking Dead” to see zombies.  For that, I just need to watch the Republican presidential debates.

6 thoughts on “Halloween Special: Republican Zombies Stalk A Cold War Bogeyman!

  1. Some brief (I swear!) observations, even if somewhat far-ranging: 1.) Yes, clearly the GOP has been captured by “Libertarians.” This doesn’t prevent the other candidates from vilifying Sen. Rand Paul, probably the only authentic (intellectually) “Libertarian” on the stage! No one dares go against the “Tea Party” element; 2.) I hardly had a chance to watch any of “debate” number three, but from what I heard in MSM summary, someone described the Democratic “debate” as one “between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks”!! I almost fell over laughing when I heard that on the radio! In this dreadful attempted analogy, I guess Bernie must be the Bolshy!; 3.) no less a Reagan stalwart than David Stockman these days admits that trickle-down was/is nothing more than voodoo economics. And that really is, indeed, all the GOP has to offer the country. No fresh ideas whatsoever, as Mr. Astore points out; 4.) speaking of consuming brains, we now flash back to the 1980-81 Season of “Saturday Night Live,” the first after the departure of John Belushi and Dan Ayckroyd. The finest skit I ever saw in that phase of the show featured Bill Murray in “Invasion of the Mind Snatchers.” (I don’t recall if it was presented in proximity to Halloween, but with that year’s election imminent this was probably the case.) A spoof of a legendary 1955 horror movie, the skit concerned an unnamed evil force selling the electorate on vapid ideology. You know, folks being replaced by physically identical beings…with strangely different notions about the world. A strange compulsion to conform. You get the idea.

    Okay, I failed to live up to my vow to be brief, I guess. But truly and verily, if you want a Halloween chill, forget about ghosties and goblins and things going bump in the night. Just look around at the state of American politics.

  2. In the interests of “fair and balanced” contrariness I would like to point out that although the Republicans are virtually all “mad hatters’ the Democrats have embedded madness on their team. The one candidate who dared to raise the question of our incestuous relationship with Israel has departed from the fray leaving the residuals who won’t even mention the word. The party favorite oscillates between lying about her commitment to reigning in the very powerful corporations that are funding her campaign while she covers her backside by stealing her opponents social program. Hope and change. Yeh. We heard that before. Then there is the great hope who has yet to enunciate a coherent foreign policy that is based on opposing perpetual war which he knows will steal all of the funding for the social programs he supports. That it folks!
    PS. Put pressure on your favorite candidate to sign off on funding perpetual war.

  3. A decade later and another lame-duck U.S. president — this time a “Democrat” — prepares to hand off two desultory, losing quagmires to a successor who doesn’t even pretend to want to end them. So, here we go again with the same old same old:

    Cutting, Running, Staying, and Cursing
    (in the Gaelic Bardic verse style)

    “Cut and Run” from “Stay the Course”
    One dead horse turned into glue
    Too transparent magic act
    Caught by fact and proved untrue

    Stuck fast in a lie’s steel grip
    Blistered lip and bitten tongue
    Mouthing scripted mantras wrong
    Siren song still vainly sung

    Tied to mast of sinking boat
    Once he gloated in his greed
    Ears unplugged, his rowing crew
    Madly to their doom now speed

    Crying Wolfowitz, the boy
    Takes great joy in hyping threat
    “Fooled ‘em many times before;
    So what for do they now fret?”

    “Once we made ‘reality’
    On TV we played our parts
    Why do now the credulous
    Throw at us those poison darts?”

    How to unsay what was said?
    Numbskull head knows not the way
    Hired consultants focus-group
    Mental soup for him to spray

    Try some pepper! Try some salt!
    Some gestalt will doubtless work
    Get down where the lizard lives
    See what gives with yokel jerk

    Fly the flag and flog the queers!
    Look what cheers the xenophobe
    Immigrants and pacifists!
    Draw up lists for spies to probe

    Give those freedoms up, and now!
    Can’t allow grim Terror time
    Can’t afford to stop and see
    Liberty now just a crime

    Who absconded with our rights?
    Why no fights protesting theft?
    Who made cowardice the norm?
    Only formless fear now left

    Vote Republican or die!
    One more lie can’t hurt much worse
    Steadfast leader of buffoons
    Changes tunes but stays the curse

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2006

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