If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers. -Thomas Pynchon
From the ridge top east of Colorado Springs, CO you get a view overlooking the little upscale city and the Front Range behind it, including Colorado’s most iconic “Fourteener”, Pike’s Peak. It’s so close you can seemingly touch it, and the scene rivals any I’ve seen in the west. But I rarely go there. It is a city that has made itself into a compound for the right wing/anti government /tea bagger movement, a breeding lab for anti-gay hate legislation, anti-tax libertarian fantasies, and religious intolerance. It’s a holy center for the Party of No.
On that same ridge top sits Focus on the Family. Their Tebow Superbowl ad caused a controversy which highlights the extent to which the right wing has seized control of the ongoing debates surrounding the culture wars.
Every element in the ad story exemplifies the right’s cynical approach to political discourse that dates back to Willie Horton and before, and continues through Swift Boat ads and Health Care lies. Everything about the ad was brilliantly staged. Not just the ad itself, which featured popular jock Tim Tebow, college qb who goes into battle with bible verses painted on his face, in a feel-good tribute to his mom’s decision to have him, instead of a medically sound abortion ( I didn’t see the ad, but have heard it was fairly bland). Delivered during the climactic game/spectacle of the league that has become the entertainment arm of right wing big media, the ad reinforced gridiron culture’s fantasy of fighting American heroes to the millions of Bud Light- and Doritos- buzzed couch muffins who have always lapped it up.
The run-up attracted protests from NOW, allowing right wingers to portray them as censors (CBS, has in fact, refused left wing organizations such as Move-On.org space during the Superbowl, but now says the policy has changed). One rebuttal by a right wing sock puppet even used the words “fair and balanced”, thus slipping in a plug for his favored sock puppet advocacy network. The Sports page “journalists”, ever hungry for “relevance” to alleviate the grinding boredom of covering American Football, went along for the ride, chastising the perpetually un-savvy NOW, before heading back to their free, NFL-sponsored buffets. Excuse the mixing of sports metaphors, but in every possible way with this ad, Focus hit a home run. Smoke and mirrors for 2.7 mil- cheap!
Meanwhile, what’s going on in Focus on the Family’s sprawling little upscale home town? Funny you should ask. The supposedly left-dominated media has not noticed, but apparently there’s trouble in the compound, and angst in those McMansions.
I’ll let this Salon.com post, by writer David Sirota tell the tale. If you’ve ever wondered what happened to Reagan’s “shining city on a hill”, Sirota says, “the view isn’t pretty”.
Yes, the right of reproductive choice is very important to most Americans. But are we being distracted from the basic issue of whether the right wing Libertarian fantasy of no tax/no government/no public safety net even works? The politics of greed have made a crumbling joke of one of Tea Bagger-ism’s epicenters. Time to put down the Doritos and start asking each other what we can do to save the nation from the same fate.