There’s an irony in even bringing this up, but I think there’s a point worth making.
Right now, the Fox network is going into conniptions over the “Benghazi conspiracy” and trying to dominate the airwaves and the Internet with it. And here I am, playing right along, by wasting blog space and creative effort on the subject.
But I don’t actually want to talk about Benghazi, which is a non-issue, but rather the Fox Benghazi Strategy, in the context of the larger Republican Benghazi Strategy.
As I explored in an earlier post, the Republican Party has a huge problem. They had a similar problem back in the early 1800’s, when they were the Whigs. The Whigs were primarily a Yankee Party, representing the northern industrialists, opposed by the Democrats, who represented the agrarian landowners of the South. The Whig problem was their pro-slavery faction.
After the Whigs lost a couple of major elections, they rebranded as the Republican Party, and kicked out the pro-slavery faction, adopting an openly Abolitionist platform. It was a huge risk — most people were on the fence regarding slavery, and the pro-slavers were not a negligible group: they were furious with the Republicans and vowed eternal hatred and revenge. But the pro-slavers had brought the Whig Party to a complete standstill and made it impossible for the Whigs to field a credible candidate or platform. The Republicans took the risk, and after the North won the Civil War, the Republicans were well-positioned to completely dominate national politics in the newly-federalized Union for two generations.
The modern Republican Party has exactly the same problem, again, but this time they are split almost evenly into four different factions: the Plutocrats, the Neocons, the Religionists, and the Tea Party. They could try to kick out any one of these, but losing a quarter of their vote would kill them at the polls, and the remaining three factions still could not get along any better than four. The only way for them to become a functional political party again would be to kick out at least two of the factions — say the Religionists and the Tea Party, or perhaps the Plutocrats and the Neocons, take your pick — but what would be left would not comprise enough voters to hold a birthday party, much less win a national election. They might as well disband entirely.
So they are not a functional political party, and have no viable path back to being one. What is a non-functional political party to do?
About the only thing that comes to mind is to rig the elections. The Republicans have been aggressively pursuing this with gerrymandering their districts, enacting voter ID laws intended to keep non-Republicans away from the polls, using police to intimidate non-white voters, and — I believe, based on the statistics — tweaking the voting software in the vote-counting machines to fudge the numbers.
But there’s another, even better approach to rigging elections, and that is to confuse the Hell out of the voters.
Suppose, for instance, that the best candidate you can field, given all the contradictions and infighting within your party, is a total loser whose only asset (apart from personal wealth) is good hair and a manly chin. Suppose further than you can convince the electorate that this election is all about hair and chin: about “looking presidential.” It’s a strategy.
Sadly enough, it works. It works quite well.
The entire purpose of the Fox Spin Machine is to drag the “national dialogue” off into dark alleys where the public can be mugged without much risk. They don’t want us to talk among ourselves about things that really matter to all of us, Red and Blue alike: clean air, clean water, food on the table, general prosperity, a future for our children. They don’t want us to think about real world problems and viable solutions that benefit all of us together, much less come to a national consensus.
They want us to talk about Benghazi.
They don’t care what we believe about Benghazi. They don’t care if we believe every word they say, or if we waste breath calling them a bunch of crackpot conspiracy theorists. In fact, they like it when we sensible folk call them a propaganda channel and their watchers a bunch of brainwashed redneck idiots, because that is even more effective than Benghazi at keeping all of us far away from talking about real issues.
They don’t care what we believe.
All they care about is that we spin our wheels in the mud, getting worked up about fabricated “news” that is not news, and would not be important even if it were news. It’s a strategy.
The purpose of the strategy is to take our attention away from the fact that the Republican Party is broken, and cannot field decent candidates or legislation, or at this point, even “loyal opposition” to the Other Guys. They want us to talk about good hair and manly chins. They want us bickering over gay marriage, and the difference between the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare.
They want us to talk about Benghazi.
Well, I don’t want to talk about Benghazi. Nor do I want to talk about anything else the Fox Spin Machine spits out, or, for that matter, much of anything the dysfunctional Republican Party spits out.
They really don’t care what I think, so long as I keep talking about Benghazi.
Until they stop talking about Benghazi, I don’t much care what they think.