Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Confessions of a committed conservative -- going to the election ball reluctantly one more time

By Aussiegirl

Peggy Noonan has been accused by some of being too gloomy of late. But then, the great Mark Steyn is gloomy too -- but he's realistic. Noonan is on to something here -- the underlying theme of her piece is that the American public as a whole is far ahead of the political classes in understanding what's important: borders and the threat of Islam. There is no question that politicians of both parties have narrowed their worldview to simply staying in power and voting themselves more largesse at the public's expense. I think she's saying the age we live in calls for more -- for greatness and bold leadership, not narrow political considerations. The people are begging to be led, and instead are only receiving hollow promises of "vote for us one more time or the boogie men will get in power".

Of course it's better if the Republicans win -- but it's a choice between corrupt local pork-barrel politics combined with directionless mushy LBJ-style liberalism beholden to corporate and global interests on the Republican side, and complete leftist madness and lack of a plan or direction on the part of the Democratic party. Not the happiest choice for a committed conservative. Call it a Hobson's choice.

But the committed conservative's heart is no longer in this love affair. We are no longer passionate about this relationship. Oh, yes, we can work up some modicum of outrage or disgust at the over-the-top and very obvious effort at the media cum Democrat follies that are relentlessly trumpeted, from the Foley follies, to macacas to other hysterical forms of chaff thrown up by the chattering and nattering classes to keep us, the hoi polloi, from contemplating the real chasm that yawns before Western Civilization and our own American culture. We wearily recognize, like an oft-abandoned lover does, that the old beau will return at election time, and once again woo us with promises of wine and roses if we but attend one more dance. But like the lover who is finally beginning to recognize that the affair is really over and ardor has more than cooled, we feel ill-used, even when we see that there is little other choice.

I had a curious dream, a few nights ago. I dreamed that I was at a party with George Bush and he was flirting with me and trying to get me to sit on his lap. I was outraged by this behavior and completely baffled in the dream. I couldn't imagine what it meant, and when I woke up I understood. George Bush and the Republican party are wooing us once again. Having left us at the dance over and over, having danced with all the other pretty girls at the dance, having even danced with those he proclaimed to hate, and having attended to none of the important issues concerning borders and out of control spending, they are asking for our support once again by bringing out the boogie man.

Perhaps Halloween is a good time to precede national elections after all -- perhaps all the Republicans need to turn out the vote one more time, like getting an old mule out for one last weary workout with a relentless use of the whip, is a Halloween mask of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. I guess it's as good a reason as any to vote. But hardly intellectually gripping. We know they are going to ignore and even insult us again as soon as the election is won. But what choice to do we have? I suppose this counts as my lukewarm endorsement of all things Republican for this election. Let's just say -- the song is over, but a hint of the melody lingers on. Perhaps my political heart is as mixed as the purple metaphors in today's meditation.

I will disagree with Peggy Noonan on this -- I don't think the Republicans will lose the House -- the Democrats and media have gone overboard with the manufactured scandals meant to damage the support of the base. All they have succeeded in doing is finally energizing that part of the base that was disgusted and might have stayed home rather than vote. What the Republicans and George Bush were not able to do with their wooing and empty promises and fear-mongering, the media accomplished with its excess. It's only a passion of disgust and fear of the opposition, but it's better than nothing and George Bush will take it. It's not a good idea to dance in the end zone before your chickens are hatched, to mix one more metaphor.

I hope and pray that Ms. Noonan is correct when she states the following near her close: "Events will cause a reckoning, and then we'll save ourselves. And in this we will refind our greatness."

Meanwhile, civilization hangs in the balance, and it hardly seems to be on anyone's radar screen.

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan

A year ago I wrote a column called "A Separate Peace," in which I said America's leaders in all areas--government, business, journalism--were in some deep way checking out. They saw bad things coming in the world and for our country, didn't think they could do anything about it, and were instead building a new pool or buying good memories for their kids. Soon after I was invited to address a group of Capitol Hill staffers to talk about the piece. When the meeting was over a woman walked up to me. She spoke of what was going wrong in Washington--the preoccupation with money, a lack of focus on the essentials, and the relentless dynamic of politics: first thing you do when you get power is move to keep power. And after a while you don't have any move but that move.

I said I thought the Republicans would take it on the chin in 2006, and that would force the beginning of wisdom. She surprised me. She was after all a significant staffer giving all her energy to helping advance conservative ideas within the Congress. "Yes," she said, in a quiet, deadly way. As in: I can't wait. As in: We'll get progress only through loss.

That's a year ago, from the Hill.

This is two weeks ago, from a Bush appointee: "I hope they lose the House." And one week ago, from a veteran of two GOP White Houses: "I hope they lose Congress." Republicans this year don't say "we" so much.

What is behind this? A lot of things, but here's a central one: They want to fire Congress because they can't fire President Bush.

[...]There remains a broad, reflexive, and very Republican kind of loyalty to George Bush. He is a war president with troops in the field. You can see his heart. He led us in a very human way through 9/11, from the early missteps to the later surefootedness. He was literally surefooted on the rubble that day he threw his arm around the retired fireman and said the people who did this will hear from all of us soon.

Images like that fix themselves in the heart. They're why Mr. Bush's popularity is at 38%. Without them it wouldn't be so high.

But there's unease in the base too, again for many reasons. One is that it's clear now to everyone in the Republican Party that Mr. Bush has changed the modern governing definition of "conservative."

He did this without asking. He did it even without explaining. He didn't go to the people whose loyalty and support raised him high and say, "This is what I'm doing, this is why I'm changing things, here's my thinking, here are the implications." The cynics around him likely thought this a good thing. To explain is to make things clearer, or at least to try, and they probably didn't want it clear. They had the best of both worlds, a conservative reputation and a liberal reality.

And Republicans, most of whom are conservative in at least general ways, and who endure the disadvantages of being conservative because they actually believe in ideas, in philosophy, in an understanding of the relation of man and the state, are still somewhat concussed. The conservative tradition on foreign affairs is prudent realism; the conservative position on borders is that they must be governed; the conservative position on high spending is that it is obnoxious and generationally irresponsible. Etc.

This is not how Mr. Bush has governed. And so in the base today personal loyalty, and affection, bumps up against intellectual unease.

[...]The Republican establishment, the Republican elite, is quietly supporting those candidates and ideas they think should be encouraged. They are thinking about whom they will back in '08. But they're not thinking of this, most of them, with the old excitement. Because they sense, in their tough little guts, that the heroic age of the American presidency is, for now, over. No president is going to come along and save us, and Congress isn't going to save us. Events will cause a reckoning, and then we'll save ourselves. And in this we will refind our greatness.
The base probably thinks pretty much the same. They go through the motions, as patriots are sometimes called to do. As for the election, it reminds me not of 1994 but 1992. That year, at a bipartisan gathering, I was pressed for a prediction. I said it was a contest between depression (if Republicans win) and anxiety (if Democrats win). I said Americans will take anxiety over depression any day, because it's the more awake state.


At 6:51 PM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

Your dance metaphor describes the situation to a T. I feel very much like a teenager with a car who is wooed into taking the Popular Girl to Prom, only to have her spend the evening with everyone BUT me, then coming to me at the end for a ride to her in-crowd party. Seems she was only interested in my cool car...

Great piece!


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