The Right in decline: send out the clowns

Margaret Thatcher is demented. I don't say this unkindly, as I might have during her term in office as Britain's longest-standing and most destructive prime minister.

Margaret Thatcher is demented. I don’t say this unkindly, as I might have during her term in office as Britain’s longest-standing and most destructive prime minister. Now in her declining years, the Iron Lady suffers from dementia, just like her late hero and pal, Ronald Reagan.

Sarah Palin is a twit. There is no kindly way to say this. The former U.S. vice-presidential candidate has speculated on whether air strikes against Libya constituted a war or a “squirmish” and declared that America must stand by its North Korean allies. Like Thatcher, Palin is a creation of the right-wing gutter press, and she may have believed, in her addlepated way, that this made them birds of a feather. Thatcher’s minders do not agree.

Last June, Palin made headlines – her only known talent – when she tried and failed to arrange a meeting with Thatcher. One of Thatcher’s people told the Guardian that such a visit “would be belittling for Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts.” Conservative talk-show star Rush Limbaugh was among many who expressed outrage at this insult, claiming to know Thatcher and declaring she’d be much too dignified – if she could still talk – to use the word “nuts.”

Yes, that’s the same Rush Limbaugh whose sponsors are abandoning ship after he called law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she advocated for public funding for birth control. During his rant against Fluke, Limbaugh displayed almost Palinesque ignorance, suggesting that women who have more sex require more birth control pills.

Limbaugh was a strong supporter of Palin’s non-run for the Republican presidential nomination. Why Palin didn’t run is unclear, though as a mere millionaire she may not be rich enough. It certainly couldn’t have been the twit factor that kept her from the hustings. Take a look at the crew who did throw their hats in the ring.

A multi-millionaire since birth, frontrunner Mitt Romney tried to connect with unemployed Americans by declaring, “I’m unemployed myself.” Attacking civil servants, he claimed that they make more than he does, perhaps forgetting he had already released his 2010 tax return, showing he made $21 million.

Romney’s nearest rival, Rick Santorum, has declared that the principle of separation of church and state makes him “want to throw up” and has advised pregnant rape victims to accept the “gift” God gave them. Next in line for the nomination is Newt Gingrich, the only leader of the House of Representatives to be censured for ethics violations including “reckless disregard of House rules,” violating tax law and lying to the ethics panel. He has said that “blacks don’t understand the keys to wealth” and Spanish is “the language of the ghetto.”

The question arises, has Baroness Thatcher lost her marbles all alone or did she take the rest of the English-speaking world down with her? Never mind that it’s somehow an honour, a claiming of status, to be allowed to visit a demented old woman whose claim to fame is that Rupert Murdoch and Rush Limbaugh once loved her. How did the political landscape get so scattered with clowns? How did the obviously racist, the clearly stupid and the blatantly untrue come to be the common discourse of the Right?

Take the Canadian House of Commons, where Dean Del Mastro, parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, remains the government front-person on the robocalls scandal. With great flourish last week, he accused the Liberals of being behind suspicious calls which originated in the U.S., because they were the “only party” to use an American call centre. Actually, Liberals never did. Conservatives did, including Del Mastro’s own campaign.

Even after the accusation turned out to be absurd, the Conservatives stuck to their guns. Del Mastro called on the Liberals to release their own call records, but announced his own party wouldn’t do likewise because they know they did no wrong. He appears to be trying to build a case that the Liberals savaged their own election chances in order to build a “smear campaign” against the Conservative party.

If Harper and Del Mastro were out to convince Canadians that they are exactly the kind of bungling schemers who tried to sabotage the 2011 election, they couldn’t be going about it better. And yet, like Palin and Limbaugh, like Gingrich and Santorum, Canada’s Conservatives retain their following. How do they do it? Don’t people care anymore that they’re being played for fools, by fools?

Back Stateside, there is some good news; the power of the American loony Right is in decline. No matter which clown wins the Republican nomination, no one seriously expects him to defeat Obama in November. So cheer up, Canada. No matter how zany it gets, there’s always light at the end of the circus.

Al Pope won the Ma Murray Award for Best Columnist in BC/Yukon in 2010 and 2002. His novel, Bad Latitudes, is available in bookstores.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read