Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Kabuki

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Jon Lackman attempts to make the argument on Slate that Rush Limbaugh and Frank Rich calling the current political rigmarole “Kabuki theatre” is a vain attempt by them to denigrate it by associating it with something foreign.

No.

The point those commentators are attempting to make by calling parliamentary tricks “Kabuki” is that it’s a highly ritualized form of theatre.

For example, we’re about to go through another turn in the bender for a Supreme Court nomination. This will involve Republicans – themselves gross caricatures of otherwise legitimately perceived grievances or political philosophies – making some very predictable, if outlandish, acts in order to block whatever nominee the White House chooses. The nominee the White House chooses will be, in turn, pointedly scrubbed by Democrats of any history that might be considered “radical,” a term that will ultimately be defined not by social convention but by professional propagandists on the airwaves, for which there will be a lot of manufactured Sturm und Drang.

That’s a highly ritualized form of political theatre, marked by its outlandish performances. “Kabuki” is not far off the mark. Where Limbaugh and Rich leave themselves open for criticism, however, is not that they’re being racist, but that they’re being big flaming hypocrites, for outlandish, ritualized theatre is exactly what they’re peddling.

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