Roger L. Simon

The real life and the phony life

Glenn Reynolds has two posts on the top of Instapundit this morning that remind me of why I could never be a politician – one about Iraq and one about the environment. I could say that was because “I cannot tell a lie,” but that would be … a lie. It’s because I’m not good enough an actor. My real thoughts and feelings pop out too easily.

I don’t regret this for a second. I wouldn’t want to be a politician. I want to stick with my own opinions, thank you. And my own self. The need for political victory not only distorts what you think and feel, it distorts it to such a degree that you probably no longer remember what you thought and felt in the first place. You have become a creature of your own prevarications. You are … someone new.

That politicians are often inauthentic human beings is not exactly news, but it has been exacerbated in our times by their high visibility . They are forced to give their opinions on virtually all matters in a non-stop all-news cycle. These opinions are in turn crafted to appeal to constituencies (often the “base” in primaries, then the “center” in the general election) much in the manner products are crafted for consumers. They are, in essence, phony – and we the consumers (the voters) know it. How could we not? Yet we – with the media as the all-too-willing promoter – participate in this charade.

Frequently I too play this game on here, but recently I have found it more nauseating than usual. An example is just below – a disconnect in the man I am supporting at this moment – Rudy Giuliani – between what he says and what I suspect he really thinks.

Of course the Democrats are far worse in that regard these days. Thus those initial links to Instapundit above. On the issue of Iraq, I cannot imagine a more inauthentic human being than Harry Reid (second place: Nancy Pelosi). I wonder what he would say were he to read the linked post by Omar Fadhil, an actual Iraqi – and then have to confront Omar directly, person-to-person. I can’t imagine Reid’s reaction because I don’t think, after all this, he really has one – other than I want to get elected. In fact the entire Modern Liberal position (whatever that is) on the War on Terror is mired in contradiction, governed solely by an interest in political victory at a time when our children’s futures weigh in the balance. Indeed, Silvestre Reyes, dopey as he is, may be the poster boy for Modern Liberalism – all attitude and no knowledge.

Similarly, on the environmental issue, we have Democrats embracing Al Gore as their scientific guru (how silly is that) while their richer constituents rush to buy carbon offsets, which at first seemed to be a harmless Ponzi scheme, but now appear to be worse.

Is this a fallacy of democracy (as in “Two Cheers for…”)? Perhaps. But democracy is all we’ve got. And I also suspect it’s our only hope. But it puts a helluva responsibility on us citizens, cutting through the non-stop haze to find to find the real person behind the inauthenticity. That is the challenge of the long election of 2008.