I usually like to include as many cultural reviews as possible on this blog. I think people who think about politics tend to think about politics too much. It’s not good for you. It makes you crazy. You get inflated with a sense of your own rightness and righteousness, start accusing your opponents of being evil… I know: it’s fun. And it feels good. But it really is unhealthy. You’re not that great. They’re not quite as bad as all that. Trust me on this. As one of our priests said in church last week, “God loves you — and all the people you can’t stand.” Amen.
Unfortunately, that said, I don’t have much to report on the cultural front this week for various reasons. I’ll try to write my Monday column about the Oscar nominations. Which leaves only politics for now … and politics this week has been just plain depressing.
By now it seems reasonable to assume that every single sentient being in America if not the universe has listened to this week’s Ricochet podcast or at least has fast-forwarded through to my parts. Thus you’ll have heard me challenge GOP political consultant Mike Murphy on his support for Mitt Romney, who is either running for president or selling cigars out in front of the drugstore, I’m never sure which. Murphy, a witty and intelligent guy with a lot of wonky information at his fingertips, seemed to me the very incarnation of the much-talked-about Republican establishment. As such, he says a lot of sensible things — and also seems completely unaware that a libertarian revolution is brewing in this country, that it gave the Republicans the only relevance they have left by returning them to power in the House in 2010, and that if GOP centrist types like him succeed in putting up a Bushian only-sort-of-conservative like Romney and then lose to Obama, the consequences for them may include treatment last seen during the Inquisition.
Like Murphy, like just about everyone who thinks, I’m not convinced that Gingrich is a viable alternative to Romney either. I’m not even convinced he’s the more conservative of the two. (I don’t think Santorum is that conservative either, by the way. Aside from the social values stuff, which won’t matter a damn if the country goes bankrupt, he seems to have backed a lot of W’s big spending.) When I turn to the best pundits, I find Ann Coulter making a brilliant case against Gingrich and for Romney, and Thomas Sowell making a brilliant case against Romney and for Gingrich. From this, I deduce that Coulter and Sowell are brilliant people capable of making brilliant cases. In fact, if I’m ever arrested for stalking some beautiful intelligent blonde conservative pundit, I may hire Coulter to defend me… although on consideration, I can think of several reasons why that might not work.
The painful truth is that my native optimism is currently not a very good guide to our political realities. The Republican Party has, at this hour, absolutely no (0) good candidate with whom to oppose Obama. This realization comes on the heels of a presidential State of the Union message so empty, so dishonest, so partisan, so low in tone, aspiration, understanding and philosophy that allowing this guy to get re-elected due to pure oppositional incompetence strikes me as an act of political malfeasance.
Really, are people like Obama, Romney, and Gingrich the best leaders this country can produce? And if so, are we — and our founders and the basic tenets of our free form of government — getting exactly the screwing we deserve? How hard is it to pitch individual liberty, limited government, and economic freedom — stuff that not only works but is morally right? Where are the better spokesmen for our age-old ideals?
As I say, depressing. Obama’s failures are well documented. He really is a disaster for this country — the poor and the middle class especially. But like the old political saying goes, you can’t beat someone with no one. It seems right now that the GOP is going to fail us in putting up a candidate who can unseat him. But possibly, we’ve already failed ourselves.