Since I decided to review the 2nd Democratic candidates’ debate before the solid, honest, Yankee-folk of Manchester, NH, I supposed I might as well as try to enjoy it by digging out my favorite snarky pen from the desk drawer. But as the debate got rolling, ol’ Snark ended up napping on the sofa next to my apolitical wife, while I became engrossed in the surprisingly fascinating and exceptional debate.
Top dog Hillary, looking a bit too much like my mom for my comfort, courageously kept her squawk-factor under control, even during Johnny “The Hair” Edwards’ feisty attempts to snatch a few tidbits from her bowl by desperately “differentiating” his messianic “vision” from the rest of the lowly Philistines’ bourgeois offerings. When retorting to Edward’s full-moon howl that there is no real war on terror… ” woof, woof, Bush, woof, woof, conspiracy, woof, oil, woof, arrooooo,”… I did not even detect the faintest flutter of hesitation in her eye when she unequivocally admitted that 9/11 actually did happen. Her boldly going against the Democratic Party base in this otherwise risky admission is understandable, as she does represent NYC, after all.
But then, Clinton went on to fearlessly pioneer new territory in 21st century Democratic Party honesty, unabashedly stating that we are actually much safer–that’s right, safer–under the Bush administration than before 9/11, ie. before her previous reign. (I would have paid $10 to see Bill’s face at that very moment.) Did one of her secretly patriotic ex-CIA security guys slip a truth serum into her pre-debate Herbal-Life laxative? But alas, as if jolted suddenly back through the looking glass, she recovered her senses, ” Oh, but…errr…we could be …ummm…much safer…though,” as her voice trailed off.
The melodrama got juicier when Edwards turned his hungry-lawyer look towards the sumptuous bone in Barak Hussein’s dogbowl – as the “true” anti-war crusader amongst the three pack leaders. He intimated that Obama and Hillary only voted for the cut-off of Iraq war funds after hesitating to see where the rest of the pack would go. “You’re no pack leaders,” he accused aggressively. Obama turned around and growled, “Yo dawg, you were only four years late, you punk, since I was against the war from the very beginning.” Mercilessly bitch-slapping the painted-on smirk right off Johnny’s manicured face, and surely gaining a bump, at least amongst the Snoop Dogg constituency. “Yea? Well at least I admitted I was wrong!” Johnny pouted as he slinked back into his corner holding his newspaper-whipped backside. Give Obama a treat, I say.
As I’m always for the underdog, the “second-tier” candidates were even more appealing to me. Biden barked quite boldly trying to get some attention, and a few barks actually had some bite to them. His lone vote among the Democratic contenders for continuing to fund the war earns him a tiny blue ribbon from me in this show. Old dog Dodd did his best to look presidentially perky, his sheepdog shock of white hair visually appealing. Even “Kutchies,” with his severe left limp, was kind of cute in his quirky runt-of-the-pack kind of way. And who could not love the cranky old Alaskan Husky sled dog Gravel, growling and snapping at his pack-mates, benightedly saying he got his meds from the VA, while demanding respect, some duly earned, from this pack of impudent wet-nosed pups?
But Bill Richardson, as the lovable, utterly huggable Huckleberry Hound, really won me over with his practical, guileless, absent-mindedly-over-the-time-limit prose. As usual, the professionally pouty CNN media pundits disdained his “performance,” while a couple of straight-talking New Englanders interviewed afterwards–and surely representing untold masses of American viewers–told the hopelessly disconnected Anderson Cooper why they were impressed by Richardson’s errrr… “performance.” “Oh!….errr…reallly!?” Anderson blurted out. Bah. They’ll never get it anyway.
In all, I found myself surprised in liking all of these candidates. No, really. Even Hillary (Hey neo-cons, my mom, though a bit pushy, was a great woman.) If I had a sister and she was old, I would gladly have any one of them for a brother-in-law, even Hillary. Even Edwards–the over-ambitious-guy-you-liked-to-pick-on-in-high-school-who-became-a-freakin-ambulance-chasing-millionaire-shyster that he is–got a sympathy vote from me (I expect he will not do well at all in NH and I sincerely pray for his wife and the stress this campaign may have in store for her). All of them are highly intelligent, eloquent, and utterly sincere to a fault. And that is precisely what deeply bothers me about them and this debate.
Sincerity and intelligence, when you can be so utterly and sincerely wrong, then become sincerely and utterly dangerous. Please do not misunderstand. Immigration law, education, health, etc., are all vital issues. Yet even with the Democratic candidates expressing some very thoughtful proposals in the good Old-style Democrat tradition, all these issues shrink into infinitesimal obscurity when we take into account the gaping black hole in this debate. The proverbial metaphor-fast-becoming-a-clich√©, 800-lb.-gorilla-in-the-room.
What good will discussing solar power, full-day kindergartens, or free health care be when you fail to mention that, at any time, a dirty bomb could go off in LA, Chicago, or your home town? Why discuss the validity of hedge funds when NYC and every hedge fund broker in it might be wiped out by a determined, energized, capable, religiously fanatical enemy dedicated to only one thing – yours and your country’s destruction? What kind of insanity produces talk of gays in the military but not military-economic defense when we are under the greatest threat our nation has ever seen?
The other vitally important fault I see in the Democratic candidates, that of the almost universally accepted secularist world-view that ends up by logical progression holding the state up as the ultimate savior of mankind; hence producing some of the starry-eyed messianic complexes we witnessed last night. Even that enormously basic metaphysical issue pales pitifully by comparison to the BIG issue that was not even superficially addressed. How can we end the threat of Islamic terrorism?
As a little kid who held signs for Goldwater in ’64, for whom Ronald Reagan passionately became an icon, who has stood staunchly behind Bush, I can honestly say I really like these candidates. Especially the impassioned and honest Joe Biden, the lovably cantankerous Mike Gravel, and the wonderfully likable Bill Richardson. The Democratic Party has some gems in it. But a looming, transcendent question hovers over this whole production. How much is that doggy in the window going to cost me, our nation, this generation, and western civilization in negligence?
“Democrats are the only reason to vote Republican” – Thomas Sowell
“Idealism is based on big ideas. And, as anybody who has ever been asked “What’s the big idea?” knows, most big ideas are bad ones.” – P.J. O’Rourke
Bruce Moon is the Pastor of Comunidad de Gracia A.C. in Mexico City, Mexico.