Thursday, January 3. 2008
There were two opinion pieces in the Wichita Eagle yesterday. I don't know which was dumber, or more disgusting. The obvious frontrunner was Cal Thomas's Bhutto was a true patriot, where he waxes longingly on Benazir Bhutto's dark eyes and flawless skin, and gets all teary she knew and accepted the risks of returning to Pakistan because, he quotes her, "I love my country and my people." He then goes on to taunt another woman who falls short in the eyes and skin department: "[Bhutto's] example of [b]ravery is also a challenge to another woman, Hillary Clinton, whose true convictions are yet to be discovered." (I'm assuming here that "ravery" is a typo.)
Thomas is a craven Jesus freak, and this sort of demagoguery is his staple, although it's rare that he gets such a hard on over it. The column I found more annoying is the one by the normally sane ex-Eagle editor Davis Merritt, Norman gathering could be fresh start. This is about a gathering in Oklahoma to "focus on the real question that Americans care about: Why can't the world's richest and purest democracy solve its problems?" That's not a bad question, but the participants, for all their "high-grade political and governmental credentials and experience," are distinguished by their present or near-future unemployment: Democrats Sam Nunn, David Boren, Charles Robb; and Republicans Chuck Hagel, John Danforth, Christine Whitman. Merritt calls them moderates, but they smell more like road kill. What did them in was indeed the "uncompromising ideologies" Merritt bemoans, but he really should have stuck to the singular, because there's only one dog in that fight. The extreme right and the GOP have become one and the same, and it does no good to try to reform or moderate them from within the party or to compromise with them. We know from bitter experience that doing so is mere appeasement, which only encourages the right to get more aggressive. Given what the right has done, Boren's fellows have about as much credibility and relevance as Neville Chamberlain after the shooting started.
Michael Tomasky's latest New York Review of Books piece, They'd Rather Be Right, is a pretty level-headed survey of the state of the GOP right now, showing how their presidential candidates are imprisoned by the ideological conceits of their base -- nearly all of which have proved dysfunctional, disastrous, or worse. The result is that the candidates' rhetoric more often than not exceeds even the track record Bush has established. Merritt likes the idea of Michael Bloomberg running a third party candidacy, but the Republicans have abandoned so much middle ground that Clinton and Obama are already right of center -- only Edwards talks about anything remotely like class, even though the split there is more extreme than any time since the 1930s. The only thing that keeps Clinton from being recognized as the middle ground Merritt craves is the hateful abuse the right has heaped on her and her befuddled husband. She's certainly not ideological in any sense of the word: she sucks up to the rich, tries to accommodate anyone of influence, and straddles issues to muddle them into insignificance. I don't see how that can work, but given a choice between her and any Republican -- other than Ron Paul, who is ideological and does have a clear solution to one big problem -- she's automatic. At this point the right has to be stopped no matter what with.