If you want to understand the huge tail-whuppin’ the Republican Party took this week, there’s a great Simpsons episode of a few years back that explained it all in advance.
You may remember the episode, "Sideshow Bob Roberts." In this classic installment, "Diamond" Joe Quimby, the blatantly corrupt, sleazy, porkbarreling, free-spending, incompetent, unprincipled, oversexed, self-indulgent jackass mayor of Springfield, is running for reelection for the umpteenth time, in this instance challenged by Sideshow Bob, the murderous TV clown.
During their televised debate, Quimby, suffering from the flu, flounders badly, and, brushing his hair back off of his sweaty forehead, even looks as if he has devil horns. The TV station broadcasting the debate instantly chooses to surround the beleaguered mayor with a circle of flames, to complete the job of characterizing him as a devil, adding the disclaimer, "Flames added electronically by channel 6."
It’s a hilarious moment, and it’s exactly what happened to the Republicans this year. They governed all too much like Mayor Quimby in recent years, squandering their hard-earned reputation for fiscal respnsibility, realism, relatively limited government, and efforts to combat political corruption (the latter represented by the Gingrich House’s reforms in the ’90s). Instead of these things, they came to be known for spending worse than drunken sailors (a correct characterization), sexually sleazy (unfair in that they were probably no worse than the Democrats overall, had anyone cared to look), corrupt (fairly accurate, given the real scandals in which they were involved, although a similar attention to the Democrats would undoubtedly have revealed at least an equal amount of vile ooze), and incompetent (again, fairly accurate, alas).
So the Republicans, despite numerous warnings from many quarters (including the present author), went their merry way and received the just fruits of their efforts. In short, they looked exactly like Mayor Quimby.
The U.S. press, with great glee, added flames for effect, and the deed was done.
Commenter Jordan Ballor notes that he, too, thought of The Simpsons in the wake of last Tuesday’s elections. Jordan blogged an amusing item alluding to the show, on the excellent Acton Institute Power Blog. Jordan is vastly more adept than I am at the technical side of blogging, and hence has even managed to place directly on his site the Simpsons video to which his post alludes.
The entire "Sideshow Bob Roberts" episode is available on YouTube here.