By MARC McDONALD
Scan any right-wing blog these days and it's hard not to notice that something is missing.
Namely, the word "Republican."
As he so often does these days, Rush Limbaugh sets the trends in the right-wing noise chamber. If you've listened to Limbaugh's radio show lately, you'll notice that he has rarely mentioned the word "Republican" since November. Indeed, he goes out of his way every 30 seconds to mention that he's actually a "conservative."
It's quite a change of pace from four years ago, when the Republicans were riding high in the heady early days of the (then still popular) Iraq War. Back then, George W. Bush's approval rating was sky-high. The Iraq War initially appeared as though it might be a cake-walk, after all. Most Americans were still confident that the WMDs would be found (for that matter, most Americans still believed Saddam was behind 9/11).
Back in those days, Rush and his Ditto-Head followers embraced the word "Republican" and wore it as a badge of honor.
But that's no longer the case these days, especially in the aftermath of the Republicans' disastrous showing in the November elections.
Like Rush, the right-wing blogosphere has recently quietly tiptoed away from the word "Republican." A casual scan of popular right-wing Web sites and blogs today reveals few or no mentions of the word "Republican" over the past month.
The following right-wing sites (none of which I will dignify by linking to) have few, if any, mentions of the word "Republican" on their main pages (or any of their recent articles): Limbaugh's own site, The Drudge Report, Flopping Aces, Little Green Footballs, and Captain's Quarters. Note that the latter two sites have archives dating back several years. Click on any month pre-dating November 2006, and you'll find the word "Republican" in abundance.
Clearly, the word "Republican" is tainted these days---even to the point where fanatical, Bush-worshipping, Kool-Aid-drinking right-wingers have begun to avoid the word like the plague.
One might ask: why are today's right-wingers avoiding labeling themselves as Republicans?
Is it because today's Republican Party has been hijacked by extremists? No.
Is it because today's Republicans have done untold damage to the U.S., from lying our nation into war to embracing torture as official state policy to shredding our nation's Constitution to making America the most feared and hated nation on the planet? Is it because the recent Republican-led Congress was the most evil, corrupt Congress in American history?
Actually, the right-wingers have no problem with any of the above, chillingly enough.
No, they decided to tiptoe away from calling themselves Republicans simply because they know goddamn well that the word "Republican" is heavily tainted these days. It's electoral poison.
Today, America is a mess. Our relationship with the rest of the world is in tatters. Given the appalling human rights record of the Bush White House, America no longer has any moral authority to lecture other nations.
And the American voters know damn well who is to blame for the decline and fall of America as a respected nation: the Republicans.
As they try to rehabilitate their devastated Republican Party, right-wingers no doubt will continue to embrace the "conservative" label. But no matter what they call themselves, they can't hide the fact that the GOP and their beloved leader Bush did untold damage to America from 2000 to 2006. I'd suspect it'll take the majority of American voters many years before they trust the Republicans again.
Update: This is interesting: two of the right-wing blogs that I noticed had no mentions of the word "Republican" on their main pages on March 31 (Captain's Quarters and Flopping Aces) must have gotten wind of my article. Both blogs posted new content today smothered with numerous mentions of the word "Republican." Maybe the right-wing blogs will rediscover the word "Republican" again for a few days in an attempt to try to show everyone that they're not really afraid of this tainted label....but mark my words, it won't last.