Rightbloggers' Shutdown Post-Mortem: Hope, Despair, Conspiracy Theories
Last week in D.C. the shutdown got shutdown, which as our previous columns show was not the result rightbloggers had been banking on. Indeed, in the final days of der Untergang, many of them were already spinning furiously, like Rich Lowry, whose broadcast from the National Review bunker was headlined "If GOP Can Save the Sequester, Fights Will Not Have Been 'Complete Debacle.'"
As they stumbled from the wreckage, some of the brethren were crestfallen; some saw the ruins as an excellent foundation for future victories; and some retreated into madness.
Many rightbloggers took comfort from the continuing clusterfuck that was federal website access to the exchanges; this, they told the world, meant Obamacare would never work, and was in fact already, as Kyle Becker put it, an "epic disaster... train wreck... fire tornado" etc., over which "most of the country was doing a collective facedesk."
Surely, they reasoned, the enormous good will Republicans had built up with the government shutdown now left them perfectly positioned to offer Americans a true free-market alternative. Some of the details of such a plan were laid out by Rick Moran of PJ Media: For example, "most Republicans would have no problem expanding the health care savings accounts," Moran explained; also, "there may be some Republicans willing to support an expansion of Medicaid to cover the truly poor -- not those making a whopping 133% above the poverty line." Those 133-percenters can just sell their jewelry if they want an operation.
"It's not too late to sink Obamacare," plaintively headlined Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post. To do so, Republicans should "shine the spotlight on Obamacare, convince the public that this is an irreversible mess and compel its delay and even reworking," she said. What a refreshingly new idea -- as was her proposal for a "nonstop campaign against Obamacare with an eye toward 2014."
Rubin also suggested the GOP offer "a proposal to help those for whom Obamacare is unaffordable... a proposal to allow individuals to escape the insurance that they're being told they must have and is more expensive than their existing insurance." (This assumes that there will be a lot of these people, and not just the fakes on Hannity.) If that happens, she said, Republicans will become "the heroes of the lower- and middle-class Americans who are being punished by a horribly designed program." Republicans offering low-cost insurance! Maybe she should ask former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney how this might be accomplished.
Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution, from the libertarian branch of conservatism, even suggested that the shutdown failure was brilliant for the Republicans, as it would inevitably be followed by Obamacare disaster, which would redound to the GOP's benefit: "If Obamacare is really going to do poorly, it is better if we build up high or least modest expectations for it... That's what will get further traction for the Tea Party on Obamacare..." We should note Cowen did this in the voice of "Tyrone, my evil twin brother," a risk-aversion strategy all rightbloggers would do well to emulate -- all of the time, if possible.
Speaking of which, a prime candidate for this approach, Megan McArdle, told her readers the website problem was so bad that if it were not fixed in a couple of weeks, "then the administration should ask for a one-year delay of Obamacare's various regulations, including the individual mandate," something she suggested the Administration had only fought so hard to avoid when the Shutdowners demanded it because of Obama's "desire to avoid a giant political embarrassment." McArdle did add, "I'm aware that since I opposed the law in the first place, people will take my suggestion with a huge grain of salt," so maybe she will have sense enough to consider creating a mean sister named Ardle McMegan on whom to blame her columns as appropriate.
Some of the brethren were too saddened by the shutdown's failure to even rejoice at the failure of their fellow citizens to obtain health insurance.
He's gonna kill you with health care! You'll spend your last moments under starchy hospital sheets!
At PJ Media, for example, Michael Walsh compared the American People to McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, lobotomized by Nurse Ratched, played in Walsh's dream production by "Big Nurse himself, Chuck Schumer." We suspect Walsh sees himself as Chief Bromden, reimagined as a white man for conservative audiences.
Others just muttered complaints like disappointed schoolboys (e.g., Weasel Zippers, "time for the inevitable cave in"; Instapundit, "Boehner has never struck me as especially sharp"; Stephen Green, PJ Media, "There was never a risk of actual default... by raising the specter of default, Boehner legitimized false Democrat warnings," etc).
Some felt betrayed by the RINOs in whom they -- well, they never actually did put their faith in them, but Lord did they sound betrayed nonetheless. "All the evidence points to the inevitable conclusion that the GOP establishment has little or no interest in furthering conservative goals, either fiscally or socially," bawled Some Guy at Red State. "They think we are rubes who can be fooled by waving meaningless votes in our faces and saying 'I tried'... Our first challenge is uniting our own house and there is no way that unity happens absent a wholesale purge of the GOP." So, either glorious revolution or a few days in time-out for Some Guy before he goes back to the Sign-Painting sector of the nearest Republican campaign. Which do you think?
Vanitas! cried rightwing egghead Roger Kimball, who claimed to have had "a convivial lunch, but with a certain melancholy creep around the edges" with "a politically mature Democrat, one of those 'Scoop Jackson' fellows you read about in books but -- unless you are older than I am -- have probably never met outside a book's pages." So what did Kimball and Joe Lieberman talk about? They "contemplated the action of ordinary citizens -- those vets who disassembled the 'Barrycades' erected in front of national monuments by a punitive Obama administration," and were left "wondering whether the country was teetering towards a pre-revolutionary state."
Considering, as the polls showed, the lumpen had not flocked to the House Republicans' siege of Obamacare, how might Kimball's revolution be affected? He cited a column by his fellow traveler, the billionaire columnist Conrad Black, who had "conjured the specter of Cromwell storming Parliament and thundering out its dissolution ('in the name of God go!'). Perhaps it will come to something like that." Ah, a takeover by the New Roundheads! That's been their dream for years; sadly for them, heads aren't getting any rounder.
Inevitably, as it often does in primitive cultures, tall tales emerged among the rightbloggers to explain their defeat.
The story for some became that Obama had engineered the whole shutdown himself, using the naive, innocent Republicans as patsies. Toward this he was pushed by his own Lady Macbeth, the equally black Valerie Jarrett, book-writer Ed Klein (The Amateur) told the New York Post: "It was Jarrett who advised Obama that voters would mostly blame Republicans if the federal government ground to a halt, providing a golden opportunity to swing back control of the House to Democrats in the 2014 mid-term elections..." (At least the Post reporter had the wit to close his item, "The White House had no immediate comment.")
"Whether or not Jarrett really came up with this as a plan," wrote Daniel Greenfield at FrontPageMag, "there's little doubt that Obama's 'Never Negotiate' strategy that he has deployed throughout his disastrous period of national misrule comes from her." Greenfield didn't explain why it was so little doubt of this, but did add, "So Valerie Jarrett is the real terrorist. And with an Iranian background, she certainly would know all about hostage taking," which will do well enough for some.
"And let's all remember this very clearly," annotated The New Media Journal. "Ms. Jarrett, born in Shiraz, Iran, is a devoted Alinskyite who father-in-law, Vernon Jarrett, an admitted, card-carrying Communist. This is the person most trusted by President Obama!!"
Puma By Design knew it was an Obama plot all along -- because Obama's "army of green shirts" had not been surprised by the shutdown, but in fact had "barrycades" and "paper signs" ready "all at the same moment that government websites went offline." Obama must have been tipped off that the shutdown was coming -- possibly by the local news! Damned liberal media!
Puma By Design offered as evidence a report by an anonymous government employee, perhaps Guy Incognito, who said that "in less than 8 hours of the shutdown, 'miraculously', professionally printed 3X4 foot signs appeared all over the country in the tens of thousands saying- 'this (park, facility, etc. with custom logos) closed due to government shutdown.'"
"It takes planning to purchase a large volume of anything in a large bureaucracy," said Rowan Besthe at Patriot Update, yet "the government shutdown signs were on hand and appeared the very first day at the WWII Memorial... Yes, [the Republicans] used a political negotiating tool, but it was President Obama and his Administration that preplanned the consequences." Preplanning consequences! That's a high crime or misdemeanor, isn't it?
Dr. Sharon Schuetz of Lady Patriots told readers, "I got a message the other day that started me wondering about it," which began thus: "Did anyone besides me wonder how they got all those signs printed and distributed far and wide, including to all the national parks and cemeteries overseas only eight to ten hours after the government shut down?" It's not surprising she received this message, because the same text has appeared on hundreds of other sites.
Another rightblogger tall tale had to do with the suspension of the EBT (food stamp) systems in 17 states for a few days during the shutdown. AP and others reported this was the fault of the Xerox Corporation, the private vendor that handles those systems; the company said it suffered a computer glitch. Guess what some of these folks thought it was?
"PANIC: Obama Shuts Down EBT Food Stamp Cards Natiowide," cried Investment Watch.
They later updated, "This Obama dry run regarding the shut down of EBT cards was only a temporary test... Xerox Corp, a company I worked for about 11 years ago takes the responsibility for this apparent computer glitch but if you believe that I have a bridge on pluto I can sell you."
Sword At-The-Ready explained why Obama did it in their post, "Food Stamp Shutdown Threat: Obama To Incite Riots & Chaos?" The question mark was just a formality. "The USDA and government insisted that the outage was NOT related to the government shutdown," they wrote. "I don't believe a word they say. I would not doubt for a SECOND that the EBT outage was a 'dry run' for what Obama plans to do to next in the solidification of his dictatorship" -- that is, "get his welfare army rioting to force his ascension to Absolute Ruler..."
With material like this, it's amazing they failed.
Like others who fantasized this Ooga Booga Army scenario, Sword At-The-Ready noticed the USDA had been warning that the shutdown was threatening food stamp funding, and took this to mean that Obama was just trying to make sure any such shortfall was "blamed on his opponents in Congress," as if they had anything to do with the shutdown.
"Is this more of Bully-bama's work?" asked PoliNation. "...Pretty convenient glitch, coming right when Obama Democrats are under fire for doing everything possible to make the shut down HURT." "EBT Food Stamp System Down In Some States. Great Way to Scare The Dem-pendent Class With Govt Shutdown," headlined A Conservative Edge.
"This is your 72 hour warning," announced The Daily Sheeple. "If you don't already have a two week supply of food and water, now might be a good day to go stock up... The first three days after a major event are your window of opportunity to get prepared... If the EBT failure continues, look for the situation to get progressively worse." "EBT Card Glitch Today, Riots in 3... 2... 1..." warned I Own The World.
"EBT cards not working... but, really, it has nothing NOTHING to do with the slimdown," eyerolled Darleen Click at Protein Wisdom. "...Just a lesson to you all about what happens when The State finally takes over all medical care."
Some were less interested in conspiracy theories and went for straight racial animosity, a sure rightblogger crowd-pleaser. "Panic has struck all across our great welfare-laden land," wrote Soopermexican at the Independent Journal Review, "as throngs of Obama-voters find their EBT debit cards have shut down, leaving them empty handed at the liquor store, adult literature boutique shops, and in certain states, medical marijuana clinics." He left out steakhouses and Cadillac dealerships, but we got the gist.
"I shop in these markets on a regular basis and normally they are totally integrated," reported Da Tech Guy, "but the bottom line is with the EBT card system down I could count the number of non-white customers in three supermarkets on the fingers of one hand & still have fingers left over. Anecdotal evidence or no that's a startling thing and if I was a liberal I'd be embarrassed by it, but not as embarrassed as I'd be if I was a person of color..." Our equally-valid anecdotal evidence suggests that a white person would be mortified to belong to the same race as Da Tech Guy.
"One of the immediate bits of disinformation spread last night were cries that the EBT cards of whites were working, but not the EBT cards of blacks," said Bob Owens (formerly known as "Confederate Yankee," so you know where he's coming from). "Agitators used the tension in an effort to instigate racial strife. Who they were can't be known... but the clear intent was to fire up blacks against whites. If the shutdown were to stretch into days instead of just hours, the threat to the thin veneer of civility in our society would become frayed... rioting could rapidly break out and spread into something far worse... you should if at all possible build up reserves of essentials such as food, water filtration (it's usually much easier to find water than to clean it), fuel, and shelter for your family.... I would also strongly suggest that you put together a neighborhood protection plan..."
We get it now: Obama shut off EBT so preppers would be too scared to leave their compounds and vote Republican!
The next shutdown's not due till early 2014, leaving plenty of time for related bullshit -- already National Review's Stanley Kurtz, for example, is telling people that The New York Times is trying to cover up the story of the failed Obamacare website, despite the fact that the Times' front page story on it, "From the Start, Signs of Trouble at Health Portal," has been picked up by hundreds of outlets -- including National Review! But we hope and trust there'll be different debacles to cover next week, because unlike the brethren, we've had enough of this one to last a lifetime. Come on, immigration vote!
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