The Republicans are bringing back an oldie but a goodie: They’re the real victims here.
A largely unremarked element of the etiology of the prion disease currently afflicting the Republican party — and therefore, alas, the country — is the carefully cultivated, and by now deeply inculcated, sense of conservative victimhood that has been a prime element of conservatism’s emotional appeal since long before Richard Nixon rose to power on it. They are always beset. They are always besieged. They are always surrounded — by intellectuals, by scientists, by the all-powerful Left that exists primarily in their imaginations, because it certainly doesn’t exist in American politics, and hasn’t since the days of Joe McCarthy. Culturally, this always has been expressed partly by the endless conservative bleating that somebody, somewhere is getting laid. The Gospels tell us that the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s church. The Republicans find their faith imperiled by Barney Frank’s marriage. There is always a shadow on the wall, a monster in the closet, a mysterious rustling in the teeming underbrush of the conservative Id.
In my lifetime alone, I’ve seen Nixon play this like a violin, Goldwater delegates proudly chanting their sagebrush songs of rebellion, Agnew intimidate the media with their own intellectual achievement, as though an advanced degree was smuggling drugs, and now this bunch, the natural heirs to decades of conservatives who have fought the dragons in their own minds, and who, like Marlin Stutzman, seem mystified that they have not yet been awarded the Order Of The Legion Of Courage. Vainglorious louts, driving the nails into their own palms.