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Hullabaloo


Monday, April 16, 2012

 
What's their big problem?

by David Atkins

It's common knowledge that the Obama Administration has sent the right wing into an apoplectic tizzy. Many people have written why that might be the case; I've written a few pieces myself attributing it to a vision of demographic decline.

But it's still bizarre to read about freak outs like this:

Nugent called President Obama a criminal and denounced his “vile, evil America-hating administration” which is “wiping its ass with the Constitution.” Taking it a step further, he said that “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” “If you can’t galvanize and promote and recruit people to vote for Mitt Romney, we’re done,” he continued.

Supreme Court justices also came under assault by Nugent, who claims that the court’s more liberal members have signed a declaration against Americans’ right to self-defense...

Nugent concluded with a call to cut off the heads of Democrats in November: “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. Any questions?”

A lot of people will read this and clutch their pearls at Nugent's apocalyptic and violent rhetoric. But that's not what bothers me. One didn't see nearly as much of it on the left as one sees on the right today, nor from remotely as mainstream a source of Republican support as Nugent. But during the Bush Administration I heard some pretty heated and forceful rhetoric from a lot of people on the left. Nor am I one to fault anyone of any political persuasion for making a passionate appeal.

But what I don't understand is what has Nugent and his pals so riled up. The Obama Administration's great liberal achievement was implementing the Heritage Foundation's anti-Hillarycare healthcare plan. The Administration hasn't proposed or implemented any serious gun control laws, and has in fact been extremely measured even in the face of the obvious problems caused by "stand your ground" laws. The Administration has been famously and erroneously attentive to deficit concerns. It has been fairly aggressive in its foreign policy, enough to cause some major rifts on the left and libertarian fronts. There have been no major scandals to latch onto. It hasn't exactly been hostile to the interests of Wall Street or energy developers. It hasn't pushed an immigration reform package. There's just no reason for the wingers to be this freaked out.

During the Bush Administration, the Left had plenty of cause for alarm for myriad reasons. The Bush Administration engaged in two wars, one of which had no justification or rationale whatsoever not based in lies. It illegally outed CIA agents who conflicted with its deliberate lies to go to war. It passed huge, crippling tax cuts for the rich. It gutted environmental protections. It tried to privatize social security. It massively curtailed civil liberties, and corrupted and politicized every agency it dealt with, from the Justice Department to the EPA. And, of course, it crashed the economy while bailing out the richest Americans with few strings attached. The Left had every reason to be sounding an apocalyptic alarm, and rightly so. Insofar as President Obama has not addressed or tried to fix any of the problems the Bush Administration created, various sections of the left have remained legitimately upset (though I would argue that some issues are more the fault of Congress than of the President.)

But what is Nugent's problem, exactly? What are the issues, beyond a generic sense of loss of identity and aggrievement, are driving a guy like him to feel this strongly? It's clearly not anything substantive, but something deeper seated, something cultural, and something profoundly personal that doesn't express itself in terms of actual legislative issues. As I mentioned before, I have my theories, but even they're unsatisfactory. One of the reason that the Right gets tagged so often as racists, in addition to all the more obvious evidence, is that their overreaction to the Obama presidency doesn't seem to have much in the way of more credible explanations.

Whatever is wrong with Nugent and his friends, though, one thing is clear: there is nothing President Obama or national Democrats can do to appease them. So they might as well stop trying.


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