Monday, October 27, 2008

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

As right wing America continues to tear itself apart, picking at ancient scabs that long since should have healed over but were actually hidden by the smallest of band-aids, a creeping anti-intellectualism – long a significant part of the conservative underbelly – has emerged and is making its presence felt in a most obnoxious way.

. . . I've got news for the anti-intellectuals. Conservatism is in flux. There is going to be a debate over where we go from here both ideologically and politically.

If you want to be part of this debate, you better learn that not everyone agrees with what your idea of "conservatism" might be and that those who disagree with you are not "elitists" or "snobs" or "soft" or "squishy" but simply think differently than you. Will you engage in the debate and try to convince people that they are wrong and you are right? Or will you continue to ignorantly skewer people who, at bottom, want the same thing that you do; a healthy, vibrant conservative movement with room for many different points of view and a belief in its primacy as a way to live and govern.

[T]he mechanisms for acceptable self-criticism on the right aren't very good, especially in election years. Any institution, even very good ones, that dedicates itself to simple self-preservation without the added step of self-monitoring is bound to face corruption, disarray, and discontent.

Lots of Senate speculation, including speculation about getting to 60 votes and speculation about stripping Joe Lieberman of his committee chairmanship. I've heard less speculation about what John McCain will do. He's an old man, and by all accounts is neither well-liked by his Senate GOP colleagues nor does he like them. Is it so implausible that he'll just retire after the election; take his toys and go home to one of his eight homes? His successor, appointed by Janet Napolitano, would presumably be a Democrat. Maybe to balance things out, he and Lieberman can simultaneously retire (Connecticut's governor is a Republican), and ride off into the sunset together.

Rush's 20 million listeners are what’s wrong with the Republican Party. If only they'd listen to these young Harvard graduates who know everything . . .

We see this same refusal to take responsibility in criticism of media bias and the preoccupation with charges of voter fraud. If public opinion of Palin has soured, it is because of unfair and unbalanced media coverage; it cannot be because she is not prepared. To entertain the possibility she is unprepared, or to say positively that she is not suited to the job she is seeking, is to be considered a rat-fink and a turncoat and proof that you are a snooty elitist with no connection to the real America we keep hearing about. Many seem to find it hard to believe that Obama could have such massive small-donor fundraising and massive voter registration, so there must be wrongdoing. I don’t rule out that there might be some wrongdoing, but we are beginning to hear warnings about stolen elections, as if the projections of an almost 200 electoral vote margin in Obama’s favor did not indicate a huge shift in voting patterns and the absurdity of talking about stealing the election. To say that many mainstream conservatives are beginning to sound a bit conspiratorial and paranoid is to put a positive spin on things. Media bias obviously exists, as it has in every previous cycle for decades, and it is more intense this time, but it is not as if media bias is what is causing the enormous drag on the Republican ticket and Republicans in Congress.

We've been told over and over again that the Bush administration always put politics before policy - and then made Karl Rove its policy czar! This is how they approached something as grave as war.

We will see a serious conservatism again when Bill Kristol and Karl Rove are banished from the Republican party and from the conservative media. The Republican implosion is primarily their doing, their achievement, their legacy. It was when McCain ceded his campaign to Schmidt and Palin (creatures of Rove and Kristol respectively) that he threw it all away. As long as they are given any credence, Republicanism will not recover.


McCain would be an outstanding president. In government, he has almost always had an instinct for the right cause. He has become an experienced legislative craftsman. He is stalwart against the country’s foes and cooperative with its friends. But he never escaped the straightjacket of a party that is ailing and a conservatism that is behind the times. And that's what makes the final weeks of this campaign so unspeakably sad.


There are at least two larger national lessons to be learned from what is likely to be the last gasp of Allen-McCain-Palin politics in 2008. The first, and easy one, is that Republican leaders have no idea what "real America" is. In the eight years since the first Bush-Cheney convention pledged inclusiveness and showcased Colin Powell as its opening-night speaker, the G.O.P. has terminally alienated black Americans (Powell himself now included, immigrant Americans (including the Hispanics who once gave Bush-Cheney as much as 44 percent of their votes) and the extended families of gay Americans (Palin has now revived a constitutional crusade against same-sex marriage). Subtract all those players from the actual America, and you don't have enough of a bench to field a junior varsity volleyball team, let alone a serious campaign for the Electoral College.

But the other, less noticed lesson of the year has to do with the white people the McCain campaign has been pandering to. As we saw first in the Democratic primary results and see now in the widespread revulsion at the McCain-Palin tactics, white Americans are not remotely the bigots the G.O.P. would have us believe. Just because a campaign trades in racism doesn’t mean that the country is racist. It’s past time to come to the unfairly maligned white America's defense.


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