The Middle-Earth Guide to Campaign 2012—Updated
One ring to rule them all/one ring to find them/one ring to tax them all/and in indebtedness bind them.
Two weeks ago the Wall Street Journal likened congressional Tea Partiers to hobbits:
The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against…Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.
The trope took off the next day when Senator John McCain (R-AZ) read the article approvingly during debate on raising the debt ceiling. Liberals reveled in this GOP establishment belittlement of the party’s fiscally conservative faction, but that didn’t stop journalists from finding allegedly-offended Tolkien scholars who sliced and diced the metaphor more quickly than Aragorn did the Mouth of Sauron. And like one of the Nazgûl, the issue refuses to die — not two days ago McCain snubbed a call to recant from a Tea Party Gaffer at a town hall meeting back in Arizona.
So the GOP establishment, via the hobbit metaphor, dismisses Tea Partiers as diminutive Don Quixotes; simultaneously, many Tolkien fans and scholars take umbrage at the very notion that hobbits were anything but bucolic deadbeats longing for official Gondorian government subsidies of their mind-altering pipe weed. Neither is entirely correct. (Nor, for that matter, was Senator Rand Paul in calling John McCain a “troll”— a doctor should know that it’s McCain’s debating skills, not his skin, that turns to stone in the sunlight.)
Tea Partiers ARE very much like hobbits -- and hobbits are not prehistoric hippies. Despite Professor Tolkien’s admonition that he “cordially dislike[d] allegory in all its manifestations,” various scholars in the last 60 years have employed Lord of the Rings [LOTR] as a palantir through which to view the world wars, the Cold War, environmentalism and Christian history (to name but the most obvious). Why not, then, do likewise for the contemporary American political scene -- especially since the WSJ has already set the first foot upon this road? Let us see where it takes us...
The first leg on this journey is figuring out what the Ring represents in modern political discourse. Since the Tea Party is trying to cast it into the fire, it must be American government spending and debt (which includes deficits, of course). That would make Congressman Paul Ryan Frodo since he knows more about that burden than anyone; and thus Samwise Gamgee must be John Boehner because he helps Frodo and he cries a lot.
Merry and Pippin, the other two major hobbits, would thus have to be Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor -- although the thought of McConnell’s mug on a 1-meter tall hobbit frame is a nightmare on the order of Tolkien’s visions of massive tidal waves and giant spiders.
Who advises the hobbits -- as well as the other characters in this conservative’s Middle-Earth? Mainly Limbaugh the Grey, sent by the Valar to contest the will of the Dark Lord by inspiring all Men and Elves via three hours of daily radio programming and special advisory scrolls known as newsletters.
He’s assisted in this role by our world’s Elrond — Charles Krauthammer.
Both urge resistance to the Dark Lord….wait for it…George Soros. (Sorry, making Obama the “Dark Lord” would not only send a thrill up Chris Mathews’ “racism” antenna, it would give BHO far too much credit.) “Soron” hopes to seize the Ring of Debt for himself in order to transform the Middle-west and the rest of America into Mordor with a view -- also known as Greece. Soron is, however, a bit distracted at present with this $50 million lawsuit brought by a Witch Queen.
Obama, then, is relegated to the role of Saruman -- trying to be in charge, hoping to seize the Ring for himself, but really only doing the Dark Lord’s bidding: undermining capitalism, hosting Haradrim religious dinners at the White House, and playing golf on Sunday mornings.
Once you’ve identified the major character analogs, the rest of the script just writes itself. The Witch King is either Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi, depending on which one you think has more testosterone (probably the latter). Grima Wormtongue -- Saruman’s oily, duplicitous adviser — is David Axelrod (if only he’d shave his mustache like Brad Douif did his eyebrows).
It’s tempting to associate Hillary Clinton with Gollum, since both want to possess what they consider their “Precious” -- but in her three years as secretary of State she’s almost earned the right not to be mocked so cruelly. But only almost.
Orcs are public sector unions, ACORN, anyone who writes for Huffington Post, and every other evil, statist minion ever identified by Glenn Beck. Speaking of Beck, his closest equivalent is Denethor, Steward of Gondor — well-spoken and intelligent but more-than-slightly crazed.
So with a Mormon Denethor, we must posit the other Mormon candidates -- Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman — as the brothers Boromir and Faramir. Boromir has more passion in his shield than does Romney in his entire body, but both die early on (Boromir in battle, Mitt in early primaries).
Huntsman resembles Faramir in his moderation, soft-spoken demeanor, and unerring ability to be overshadowed by any other character or inanimate object in the room. You just know Faramir would support civil unions, if such didn’t carry the death penalty in Gondor.
Legolas was tough, but his real world stand-in would have to be Rick Santorum, because while both appear at first to be brave leading men, each soon gets relegated to side-kick status -- Legolas as a set-up man for Aragorn, Santorum probably as SecState in another Republican’s future administration.
Who plays Gimli, the plain-spoken, brave, and humorous Dwarf? At the risk of being assaulted on Facebook, it would have to be Ron Paul. It’s not hard to imagine Paul muttering about “the consistency of Federal Reserve bankers’ droppings,” belching loudly, or being offered, by Santorum, a box to stand on during a GOP debate.
The tragic role of King Theoden goes to Herman Cain, since the former’s bewilderment by Saruman is mirrored in the latter’s bafflement over how to deal with radical Islam.
Newt Gingrich is Eomer, another brave and intelligent character who inevitably winds up, after a few good orations, playing second fiddle.
There are really only three major female characters in LOTR, all of them good. Our Elf Galadriel is Ann Coulter because…well, because she’s tall, blonde, and attractive. What more reasons do you need? Of course, the two other female characters must be Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.
Palin is Arwen: a striking, brunette Elf Princess who inspires via thought and speech but is more of a divan diva than an action figure. (It is, however, untrue, that the latter ever said “I can see Valinor from my house.”) Bachmann much more fits the role of Eowyn, who gets into the fray against the Witch King as a true queen of rage.
Astute Tolkien fans will have noticed that no Aragorn analog has been adduced. That’s because no one has earned it yet. Seven years ago your humble correspondent laid out the reasons why Aragorn would make a good President, mutatis mutandis. Perhaps Rick Perry can wear that crown — but I doubt it. They just don’t make ’em like Aragorn any more (if they ever really did at all).
So starting in January 2013 we’ll probably have to muddle through with a flawed Boromir, Theoden, or Eowyn in charge. But since Obama’s erstwhile allies are now turning on him as viciously as Wormtongue did Saruman, the chances of one of those three becoming king or queen increases daily. Under restored, rightful conservative rule, the Tea Party hobbits will have to “bow to no one” — or apologize for their actions.
Saturday Update: Now that Rick Perry has formally announced his intention to seek the crown, the Aragorn comparisons are worth re-visiting. Both are dark-haired and handsome, with a military background and arguably more practical experience than any of the others (while a decade as Texas' governor is not equal to six decades of toil, missions and fighting across the length and breadth of Middle-earth against Sauron and his allies, it beats the hell out of being governor of Taxachusetts, Congresswoman or pizza mogul). But Perry's ideological (if not bloodline) predecessors from the same state were not exactly stellar examples of dealing with taxes and spending, even if neither Bush was as wrong-headed as Isildur--so whether Perry will be able to rise above them, or fall into darkness with all that is left of the mainstream GOP, remains to be seen.
Just please don't let Perry sing at his Inauguration.