Monday, April 20, 2009

Saul Anuzis Ratchets Up The GOP Rhetoric With "Economic Fascism"

The term "liberal" has lost its sting as an epithet hurled by conservatives at their ideological enemies. The McCain-Palin campaign used the word "socialist" to describe Obama–but they lost the election. Others on the right tempted to score points with "socialist" may be discouraged by a recent Rasmussen poll that found that only 53% of American adults think capitalism is better than socialism.

So what is the Republican party to do about this lack of traction with labels? Put them aside and try to propose better policies? Nah. If "liberal" and "socialist" won't do, ratchet up the rhetoric! Thus we get the latest reference to the Obama administration: fascism.

Glenn Beck came up with a unique variant: "non-violent fascism"–a mixture perhaps of Gandhi and Mussolini, something the world has not seen before. Now Saul Anuzis (above right), who served as chair of the Michigan Republican party and lost in his attempt to serve as chair of the Republican National Committee, put his own spin on the term, calling Obama's domestic program "economic fascism."

Anuzis, however, made one startling admission, as reported in the New York Times:

“We’ve so overused the word ‘socialism’ that it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago. Fascism — everybody still thinks that’s a bad thing.”

So the use of "fascism" is simply another label thrown at Obama by the Republicans in the hope that it will stick. But Anuzis, like Beck, tries to refine his use of the term:

[Anuzis] notes that he does not call Mr. Obama himself a “fascist.” Rather, he applies the “economic fascism” label to government tax and regulatory policies that seek, in the words of one magazine’s definition he cites, “to achieve the utopian socialist ideal.”

Fascism in the service of utopian socialism? These definitions are getting rather muddled. What they really signify is a party flailing around with nonsensical references since it has no program that addresses the priorities of the country.

This latest rhetorical excess will not work; the vast majority of Americans, with the exception of the most rabid wingnuts, will recognize the absurdity of comparing Obama to Mussolini or Hitler. Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio came up with a straightforward assessment:

“If what you’re trying to do is reach out to the middle, the more extreme the language, the less likely they are to pay attention. We sound like white noise in the background. It’s like a yipping Chihuahua.”

Saul Anuzis should take heed before the label "yipping Chihuahua" sticks to him.

No comments: