Saturday, July 12, 2008

What? Me Offensive?

As the Democratic Party under Barack Obama moves from right to righter, it is becoming harder than it used to be to bear in mind that the Democrats are the lesser evil. But John McCain all but insures them that role; much as Dick Cheney and George Bush insure the Democrats, if not Obama himself, electoral successes this year.

The Republicans’ problem, the main one, is that reality is getting in the way of the fantasies they govern by. To illustrate the point, consider what surrogates for Obama and McCain have to say to get demerit points for offensiveness. The differences reveal very different attitudes towards the truth. Democrats don’t dote on it; Republicans have no idea what it is. Thus, for a Democrat to cross the line, it is sufficient to state obvious but inconvenient truths. The Republican mind is so remote from anything real that the Democratic way doesn’t cut it with them. To step out of bounds on the Republican side, what one has to do is reveal the party’s nature too blatantly – for keeping all those useful idiots, the “patriots” and “values voters,” in line.

Thus the former Texas Senator Phil Graham, a McCain economic advisor, is now on the outs. His sin: calling people who complain about the economy whiners. There was a certain logic behind his indiscretion, at least in his mind. Since markets are always right (provided nasty regulators stay away), and since their (unregulated) workings give us the best of all possible worlds, what else could complainers be? Needless to say, only the ideologically besotted could think this is so; in the real world, it is pure and simple (minded) bunk. But it is what McCain’s free-marketeer constituency believes. Graham let it be known. In more prosperous times, that would not have been so awful. But with prosperity down the drain, Graham’s was a serious tactical error, one McCain’s handlers cannot abide. Since he won’t apologize to the people who are hurting, the “little people” and so-called Reagan Democrats, the man has got to go – for now.

I confess: I’m happy that Graham is in the shit house; it’s where he belongs. He is an unusually repellent Republican -- and not just because he shares Newt Gingrich’s inflated sense of his own intellectual abilities. That occupational hazard of failed and middling academics is common enough in the Halls of Congress. What gets my contempt going is that signature expression of his. His is the face of an aging, sweaty good ole’ boy sitting on a toilet in some god awful bus station – at just the moment when the janitor opens the stall door by mistake.

The Democrats have an eminence waiting in the wings who sports a similar look; a man similarly self-deceived about his intellectual abilities. That would be former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, the purported master of all things military. For purveyors of conventional wisdom, Nunn would make a fine running-mate for Obama. Lets hope Obama doesn’t agree, and lets hope too that, after Obama wins, Nunn doesn’t become his Secretary of Defense or otherwise find a place in the higher echelons of government. The last thing we need is yet another Democrat who just knows that all those voters who are impatient about getting out of Iraq, and all those soldiers complaining about getting called back to active duty after they’ve done their time, are whiners.

I’m hopeful because like some far greater malefactors – George Schultz, for example, and even Henry Kissinger – Nunn has pointed out that there is no need for any country – including our very own beacon of truth, justice and the American way -- to have a nuclear arsenal. [Why our so-called left hasn’t joined these eminences in pointing this out is something to ponder. That they are mum does not speak well for them.] Anyway, the need, even the urgency, for nuclear abolition is an obvious and inconvenient truth, if ever there was one. In a Clintonized Party, with Obama leading the rightward charge, that should seal his fate.

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