You might say that the verb tense of choice for a natural braggart like Donald Trump is Present Perfect Continuous.  To Trump, everything about him is “great” or “biggest” or “most.” Thus in a recent Twitter post Trump tweeted: “We engender some great love... I have the biggest crowds of anybody by far and I have the biggest standing ovations.”

Trump's inexhaustible supply of superlatives when talking about himself reflects more than the garden variety boasting you’d expect from a self-infatuated showman, however. To right wing conservatives, size matters, and in more ways than one.

Take Bill O'Reilly and his constant bragging about ratings. I was under the impression the Fox News pug ugly constantly tells us how much bigger his rating share is than his liberal tormenters over at MSNBC because O'Reilly's just an arrogant bully who believes he can win arguments with the "angry left" by simply comparing audience size.

O'Reilly's schoolyard conceit was on vivid display in a dispute with Rachel Maddow a few years ago when Fox News tried to incite white working class resentment against black Americans by repeatedly replaying a doctored video it had received from the late right wing provocateur Andrew Breitbart.  

The deceptively-edited video falsely showed one-time Obama administration employee Shirley Sherrod confessing how her anti-white prejudices got the better of her as she repeatedly screwed over white farmers trying to get federal agricultural loans. In truth, at least one white couple came forward to thank Sherrod for going out of her way to save their family farm when no one else would.

"This is what Fox News does. This is how they are different from other news organizations," said Maddow on her show. "Just like the ACORN controversy, Fox knows they have a role in this dance. That's not new; that's not actually even interesting about this scandal. Fox does what Fox does."

To which O'Reilly replied on his own show later: "Which is kick your network's butt every single night, madam."

There is an old adage that it's not a very good idea to ever pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel and paper by the ton. I propose the Maddow Corollary, which is: It is a very, very bad idea to ever pick a fight with a Rhodes Scholar, Oxford Ph.D.who has a whole day to come up with a rejoinder.

And so, after playing the clip where O'Reilly brags about his ratings, Maddow said this: "Here Mr. O'Reilly has a point. You and Fox get great ratings. It is so awesome how great your ratings are. Here's the score card from last night. It is in TV ratings speak, but I think it will be clear enough. Here's Mr. O'Reilly that 757 would be him at 8:00, and that 245 would be me at 9:00, different hour, but you know same point, and don't tell Susan's mom whose actually pretty sensitive about these kinds of things, but we're actually outrated by all kinds of shows. "Deadliest Catch," that's about fishing. We get killed by a show called "The Closer" about which I know nothing about except it kills us in the ratings, and we get smaller ratings than WWE wrestling.... Of course, all of those shows also kill Mr. O'Reilly's show in the ratings as well as everything else on Fox, as do Sponge Bob, reruns of NCIS, and Hannah Montana, Forever, which is totally understandable. They are all more watched than The O'Reilly Factor which is totally irrelevant."

O'Reilly's not the only right winger who thinks size matters. There is also John Hawkins, who runs a right wing version of the Huffington Post called “The Hive." Hawkins wondered aloud in one of his posts how a guy like former Bush speechwriter David Frum (who Hawkins had earlier banned for life from the Hive for insufficient fidelity to the right wing party line) rated a spot on CNN or a column at Time when so many more popular conservatives were left out in the cold.

"What's the purpose of putting a guy like Frum on TV as opposed to all the genuine conservatives who dwarf his traffic and can obviously draw a bigger crowd?" asked Hawkins.

By linking the rightness or legitimacy of their arguments not to the incandescence of their insights or the artistry of their prose but to the raw numbers they're able to gather, O'Reilly and Hawkins exhibit that group-think and tribalism that lies at the core of the conservative mindset.

No wonder the right wing seemed so obsessed with President Obama's legendary "charisma," or the "messianic" powers they imagined the President was able to exert over the teeming hoards he could hypnotize at will.

Yet, according to Boston Globe writer Leon Neyfakh, there may be method to this conservative madness.

In an article in the Sunday Boston Globe's Idea Section, Neyfakh wrote that if you really want to change the way a group thinks and behaves you don't have to win over their hearts and minds.  All you really have to do is to "convince them that everybody else is doing it."

To change behavior, says Neyfakh, you don't have to appeal to people's inner virtue or the better angels of their nature you only have to tap into their powerful drive to be "normal."  

That is because virtues like respect and kindness don't automatically follow from people who are naturally good, says Keyfakh, "just people who have come to believe that that's what everyone else thinks is the right way to act."

Or, as the Columbia University psychologist quoted by Neyfakh puts it: "The inner conformist is stronger than the inner activist."

This insight about group-think comes especially in handy if you are a conservative movement such as the one that's been disrupting American politics for the better part of the last 30 years.

Right wing conservatives are out to do more than just win over the hearts and minds of a few swing voters who might turn the next election.  Rather, they are committed to the far more ambitious task of fooling all the people all the time so as to transform a modern, liberal, democratic culture into one more hospitable to ideas and attitudes which are democracy's antithesis.  

Views: 92

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on July 30, 2015 at 6:14am

:)

Comment by Arthur James on July 30, 2015 at 6:30am

`

standing ovation remind 

me? Of ejaculation? Howl?

Applauses as if thee dog

Hyena? Yikes. Fun read.

`

I admit ` political talk

is not my forte. It is too

Exhausting. It causes me

to Yell? I get no orgasm?

`

I heard of a ` David Ricardo-

He wrote ` Political Economy -

( 1772 - 1823 ) and a non-

polemical, political thinker 

was so Impressed He read

only that one book for a

year. It Lifted, Inspired

and Changed Him. He

Began Seeing Clearly.

I havent read. Maybe

If it's still in print.

`

Human nature is

pretty ? despicable.

Politics is Exhausting.

For me it is. You Can

See the False Faces.

Mask. Forked Tongue.

`

vent... I learn from other

People why Grapple with

Trying to Be Nice and a

bit diplomatic. IMO they

generally are Hollow.

Empty - Seek Stinky

Flatulence in the air.

Hot air ... Thanks.

`,'

Comment by Arthur James on July 30, 2015 at 6:35am

`

O? He ( Ricardo )

is a noted Jewish

Economist, and

English. I have

be browsing

Jewish Hebrew

Lit & Words.

It Inspires.

This sorta

a course in

Yiddish? A

steep into

Judaism.

`

to call a analytical

consultive? A simple

Critic - if Constructive,

and Cares For People,

Human/Civil Justice?

Rights, And Cares For

Nations ` anti-Semitic?

`

lazy cheap shot bad class

`

Comment by Ted Frier on July 30, 2015 at 6:51am

Arthur James, believe me politics is as exhausting to write as to read and frequently as dispiriting, but thanks for regularly taking the time to read mine and to comment in your own, inimical, style!

I never read anything by David Ricardo.  The closest I got was the chapter Heilbronner wrote about his economic ideas in his classic "The Worldly Philosophers," which is a great book if you've never read it.  I may have quoted Ricardo once or twice, I'll have to go back and check.

  

Comment by Ted Frier on July 30, 2015 at 8:23am

Thanks desert rat. Conservatives do have bigger brains, just not the part that counts.  There is an emerging field of study called "neuropolitics" that  connects political differences to the differences in our brains.  Using this we might be tempted to explain the "get tough" and often heartless behavior of conservatives by observing that conservatives have bigger amygdalas than the rest of us, which is the part of the brain that Republican Brain author Chris Mooney says regulates our emotional response to threats and the stimuli that evokes fear.

And so when you combine this right wing instinct to pummel other people with conservative actions designed to eviscerate programs relied on by the most vulnerable and needy in society, you're left with Joe Klein's observation in Time that what modern American conservatism has become is "a combination of aggression overseas and nihilism at home."

Comment by koshersalaami on July 30, 2015 at 9:09am
Yup
Conformity and groupthink more than logic
Comment by JMac1949 Today on July 30, 2015 at 11:08am

R&L, for some more possibilities of Tea Party conspiracy group think, check out my parody post:

Stealing Doc Vega's Thunder! 

;-D

Comment by Arthur James on August 1, 2015 at 4:47am

`

I read You slowly off line.

I goofed up ` gin. I thought

 ( dangerous to think ? ) was

The ref book ` Mr Mooney.

He's be Good to read on a

Blue Moon Night - Respect.

`

You do...

`

Comment by Ron Powell on August 1, 2015 at 7:45am
Agreed....The Republicans are hellbent on creating a race-based plutocratic oligarchy....

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