"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." The Statue of Liberty (P.S. Please be so kind as to enter through the proper channels and in an orderly fashion)
- Name: John
- Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States
Monday, August 11, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Is McCain A Chimera?
(graphic by Kelly)
Over two and a half years ago, In the commentary section of the December 25, 2005 post, "Tell It, Colin. Let Them Eat Yellow Fruit and Yellow Cake" ( http://arlingtonian.blogspot.com/2005/12/tell-it-colin-let-them-eat-yellow.html) blogger Phelonious made a comment that inspired rumination, and warrants posting.
The age of the original material should be of no concern. Republicus has demonstrated that he is ahead of the curve and the subject still relevant (if not more so).
Republicus' response will be reproduced here and elaborated upon:
Bush has not been good for the Republicans in many ways, as per the whole spend philosophy along with a weak border patrol, etc..
Right, which were not lost on conservatives who vote Republican. Hence the splintering and sharding of his base that caused his approvals to plummet below 40%.
Certainly, Bush has compromised traditional Republican identities and principles with his big spending "compassionate conservativism" wooing of bleeding hearts and with his Neoconservative Foreign Policy jettisoning of traditionally right-wing Isolationism and Cold War realpolitik Realism while embracing intervensionist Wilsonian Idealism (hitherto the butt of many a right-wing joke), engendering the Big Government Department of Homeland Security in the process and presiding over congresses--first Republican, now Democrat--that have spent their way into record deficits with no fear of a presidential veto.
All that was similar--in an inverse way-- to what Clinton did to the Democratic Party, with his "New Democrat" triangulations to the right, e.g. the closeting of homesexuals in the military with his "Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell" policy, welfare reform, balanced budgets, military intervensionism in the Baltics and Iraq, etc., all of which were compelled by Republicans and a conservative electorate and angered many in his liberal base.
And now we have the "maverick" McCain at the top of the Republican ticket, working hard to woo disgruntled conservatives whom he had alienated in the past because he allied himself with liberal Democrats to succesfully pass policies that, though principled in intent, would end up harming his own party, like the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002.
In the campaign of 2000, he criticized the leaders of the Religious Right (namely, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell), which lost him the Virginia Primary and practically handed the nomination to Born-Again Bush.
Meanwhile, his Democratic opponent, Senator Barack Obama--the most liberal member of the senate-- took a post-Primary hard-right turn and sprints past McCain's positioning in the center to outflank him on the right with his declaration that he would unilaterally bomb a sovereign country (i.e. Pakistan) should intelligence warrant it, that he supports handguns, Capital Punishment, and FISA, opposes same-sex "marriage," and now even wears the flag pin he once mocked.
And such collisions in the center and the overruns create fusions of sorts that result in chimerical hybrids.
A few things should be noted about these political creatures:
1. As Kelly insightfully selected in her graphic, the (GOP/conservative) elephant's head is front and center and looms larger than it's now Siamese twin (Democratic/liberal) donkey-- which properly looks grafted.
Such a domination is demonstrated by the fact that, in the mid-to-late 1990's, Clinton had to triangulate to the right to maintain his political viability.
In the election of 2004, George W. Bush received the greatest number of popular votes in the history of Democracy thanks in large part to his wooing and succesful rallying of the conservative base.
Nevertheless, the far-right conservative purist is nearly (nearly, mind you) as marginalized as the far-left radical, and these two form the snake at the extreme tail-end of the beast, which can wag the dog (and does during the Primary season).
Out in front, however, there seems to be a conjoining at the neck of the two parties--if not an outright conflating and morphing-- on important points with the "irreconcilable differences" kept alive by the extremists on both ends preventing full consummation by pulling back on the coattails rather than riding them towards unity.
The morphing was enabled by Neoconservative and "maverick" lions gradually displacing the traditional elephant's head and goatish "New Democrats" displacing the donkey's, with the paleos pushed back and extenuated to form the serpentine tail, as the mythical beast was originally depicted:
2. Is this sort of "meeting in the middle" a "betrayal" of the base principles of the duelling parties?
Not necessarily, as a "Big Tent" is preferrable to a log cabin (or the Alamo, for that matter) if the base principles are to flourish--even if diluted--in a country of over 300,000,000 people strong, comprised of different genders, diverse races, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds, i.e. the vast "Middle America" whose support each candidate covets and tries to make feel at home in their respective political houses (however xenophobic the original builders and occupants may be).
That this swath of the country is more conservative than liberal, anyway, is evident by the fact that both McCain and Obama try hard to assure the electorate that they're conservative--McCain explicitly so while Obama postures that implicitly--with neither ever thinking or daring to declare "I'm damn proud to be a liberal."
And so McCain is "betraying" nothing.
Obama, on the other hand...
3. Is the political "chimera" a new phenomenon?
Some paragon of conservative virtue is imagined that is used as the standard for "authentic" conservatism, and that is usually Ronald Reagan.
The amiable Reagan was good pals with Democratic Speaker of the House Tip 'O Neal. He bailed out of Lebanon after the barracks bombing killed sleeping Marines. He solved the illegal alien problem back then by legalizing them. He came out of Hollywood (granted, it was Charlton Heston, Jimmy Stewart, and John Wayne's Hollywood).
Last but not least, he was actually a Democrat before he switched to being a Republican.
That's quite a flip-flop.
And yet there should be no doubt that Ronald Reagan was indeed conservative to the core in his values and outlook...and which is why his switch to the GOP did not undermine his integrity, but answered it.
During the darkest days of McCain's standing within his own party, and feeling betrayed by the president, he was offered an opportunity to switch to the Democratic Party and start anew.
Despite the many fellow Republicans--and more grassroots conservatives--who would've said "Good riddance," and with his future with the GOP jeopardized--and the red carpet rolled out by Democrats-- Mac refused, asserting "I'm a Republican."
That's conservative integrity, and Republican to the core, and there's nothing chimerical about it.