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The Pinky Principle: Watching Congress Demote Itself Beneath any Pretense of Competence!

In "Dead Elephant in the Room" forum on March 19, 2018 at 7:49 pm

Most literate Americans are at least vaguely familiar with the Peter Principle, a management theory promulgated in the early ’70s by Laurence J. Peter who theorized that because promotion is routinely based on an individual’s performance at a given level,  promotions continue until people are promoted to that level at which they no longer perform effectively. Thus, Peter reasoned,  employees everywhere tend to rise to their respective levels of incompetence.  Actually, however, politicians are exempt from the principle. Think about it; they are simply elected, and once elected–unless advancing from House to Senate, for instance–they are not so much promoted as retained in situ. Of course, one oft-voiced criticism of the Peter Principle is that is fails to adequately provide for the possibility of demotion, but again, politicians are immune to demotions (except within party ranks), their overwhelming concern being loss of office.

Fugitives from principle…

That said, it seems obvious that if congress comprises fugitives from the Peter Principle, it is nonetheless subordinate to certain, less equivocal injunctions, among them the second law of thermodynamics–namely that entropy only increases and never decreases.  You knew that, right? True, the statistical mechanics attached to this rule have been so debauched by disputants stretching them to win their points, we feel slighty abashed at invoking them here; but not so abashed as to abandon the matter. To smooth things over with sticklers for scientific exactitude, we will presently reframe our argument in considerably less pretentious terms. Besides, operationalizing a reliable system of measurement is impossible because idiocy, while widely recognizable, can only be quantified subjectively.

Joe Starnes, hot on the trail of Christopher Marlowe.

True, members of congress have engaged in all sorts of bone-headed absurdities throughout our national history, all the while affecting the demeanor of important men (and nowadays women) fixed with grim solemnity upon the virtuous work of statecraft.  Invariably, humor is minable from this. What, after all, is more comically ironic than an assemblage of dunces whose pomposity renders them incognizant of their duncery?  But we contend the contemporary political class has achieved a record-breaking apex of insipidity–a contention, we admit, that resists empirical proof.  How might we objectively demonstrate that government’s current quotient of dunderheads surpasses in numerousness and intensity all previous examples?  Well, the second law of thermodynamics, maybe, but we promised to drop that argument. Suffice it that congress has always been bountifully endowed with morons, maniacs, mountebanks and poltroons. From Senator Benjamin Ryan Tillman (D-SC) complaining in 1900 that “we stuffed ballot boxes, we shot them,” but that his constituents were “scratching their heads,” because Blacks kept voting anyway; to Joe Starnes (D-Ala.), who, while associated with HUAC, demanded that a witness tell him whether Christopher Marlowe was a member of the Communist Party, examples abound.

Comrade Marlowe

Alexa de Tocqueville, pride of “the greatest generation.”

Consider Hillary Clinton, widely advertised by the establishment media as peerlessly brainy, who, while addressing a crowd of adulative supporters in 2016 felt moved to advert to Alexis de Tocqueville, whom she called “Alexa,” and who, she told her audience, “came to the United States in the very early 1930s and traveled around our country…” thus relocating the famous author of Democracy in America, who died in 1859, to the 20th century.  Significantly, those present greeted Mrs. Clinton’s manipulation of the temporal/spacial continuum enthusiastically– and for all we know, Mrs. Clinton continues to suppose that someone named “Alexa” de Tocqueville was a contemporary of Tom Joad’s.  In a similar vein, President Obama, whose entire docket of clownish errata is best enumerated elsewhere [for instance here], swept to the podium during a state visit by French President Hollande in order to laud de Tocqueville, whom he called “Alex.” (Both Hollande and the Bamster might have benefitted from exposure to de Tocqueville, particularly his piercing critique of socialism, but at least Obama kept “Alex” in his rightful century.)

Unusual knowledge, or: The truth is over there in England….

During a painfully scripted appearance with late-night sycophant Jimmy Kimmel (whose enthusiasm for UFOs is well known), Mrs. Clinton vowed that once she was president she would make the government’s flying saucers files public. In so saying, she echoed identical pledges from the campaigns of Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter, both of whom dropped the subject entirely once ensconced in the West Wing. But the world’s smartest woman was naturally inclined to expatiate. “You know,” she told Kimmel, “there’s a new name, it’s unexplained aerial phenomenon [sic], U.A.P. That’s the latest nomenclature.”

Ivan T. Sanderson–spawning the latest nomenclature back in 1967.

Notwithstanding the absence of any official UFO authority empowered to issue nomenclatural revisions, the term is actually UAO for Unidentified Aerial Objects, which Hillary might have found simpler to pluralize. The coinage originated with biologist and UFO theorist Ivan T. Sanderson who suggested it in his 1967 book Uninvited Visitors, but Sanderson died in 1973 leaving Mrs. Clinton to soldier on alone.  Later, in an interview with Daymond Steer of New Hampshire’s Conway Daily Sun, Clinton reiterated her  determination to declassify the government’s X-files.  For good measure, she promised to unveil the truth about “Area 54.” The candidate subsequently corrected herself, agreeing she meant to say Area 51 (the government’s uninspired name for the best known secret installation in America), but the former First Lady’s gaffe inspired awe among Internet “ufologists” a majority of whom blogged praise for the smartest woman in America, insisting Hillary had not misspoken at all. Rather, they assured one another, she had cunningly updated the UFO community on the location of the Air Force’s new, extra secret UFO testing facility.

Mainstream media (being less inclined to esoteric inferences than most ufologists) simply scrubbed the error and misquoted their favorite candidate as if she’d said “Area 51” in the first place. (In fact, readers seeking to confirm Clinton’s lapsus linguae will be hard pressed unless they explore British press accounts, for instance here).  Substituting the correct designation for Clinton’s misstated one as if they were quoting verbatim enabled the New York Times to remind its readers that Hillary was “known for her grasp of policy,” and possessed “unusual knowledge about extraterrestrials…”  We guess it depends on how you define unusual.

Bozos, left and right…

Donald Rumsfeld–unpredictable from the beginning?

To be fair, none of this is any more risible than “W” Bush explaining that “human beings and fish can co-exist peacefully,” or vowing to “restore chaos” in the Middle East…orthe time W’s  Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, philosophized during a press conference that he “wouldn’t say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past,” adding, “I think the past was not predictable when it started.”

In 2008, John McCain dazzled viewers of Good Morning America with his geopolitical acuity when, after enumerating the obstacles confronting American forces in Iraq, he summed matters up by explaining, “It’s a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq-Pakistan border.” Actually, a struggle on the Iraq-Pakistan border would be impossible, not hard, because there is no such border.  Iraq and Pakistan are separated by 1,519 miles of Iran. Presently, in a mood remindful of Donald Rumsfeld’s teleological ponderings, McCain enjoined the Pentagon to prepare for the unexpected, but appended, after a museful pause, “What I don’t know is what the unexpected might be.”

Who can forget Bill Clinton defending himself against Kathleen Willey’s charges of rape by explaining, “I would never approach a small-breasted woman,” or Arnold Schwarzenegger insisting that “…gay marriage should be between a man and a woman,” or Tom DeLay epitomizing America’s post-cold-war military primacy by exclaiming,”We’re no longer a superpower. We’re a super-duper power!” or Joe Biden, whose blunders and gaucheries provide an embarrassment of riches, advising firing “two blasts” from a double-barreled shotgun into the darkness off one’s balcony as preferable to owning a semi-automatic firearm. Republican Jay Dickey, U.S. representative from Arkansas, famously opined that “incest should be handled as a family matter” and visionary Democratic state representative Sissy Farenthold  summed matters up best by vowing to work “for the time when unqualified blacks, browns and women join the unqualified men in running our government.”

Sissy Farenthold brings clarity to the issue.

Occasionally failing our words….

Farenthold’s vision may fairly be regarded as realized, and it is our contention that Washington’s current herd of legislative mooncalves is even more bumfuzzled than its historic predecessors. Surely, one can confidently assert that no previous congress has been so pan-institutionally devoted to the production of comic effects, but this immediately invites the rejoinder that quantity and dedication do not necessarily trump refinements of technique or subtleties of execution. It depends, ultimately, on how one prefers one’s drollery. A more significant question presents itself in the meanst, that being: How do such nanoid intellects contrive to win elections, and how do they get re-elected despite establishing records of incontestable oafishness and chicanery?

Sometimes, of course, the plain old “Peter Principle” rears it’s dopey head!

As a case in point, consider Senator Dick Durbin (D-Wis), whose unflagging asaninity first drew national attention when he compared American forces in Iraq to “…Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime–Pol Pot or others.” When this characterization proved less popular than Durbin anticipated, he murmurously apologized, explaining that “more than most people, a senator lives by his words [but] occasionally words will fail us and occasionally we will fail words.” A word Durbin failed recently was “chain,” which, he insisted, could no longer be conjoined with “migration,” lest Blacks, upon hearing it, suffer some previously unknown epigenetic trauma and lapse into mass catatonia.  Wondering aloud whether Trump realized “how painful that term is to so many people,” Durbin explained that “African-Americans believe they migrated to America in chains, and when you speak to chain migration, it hurts them personally.”  Apparently this awareness dawned only recently on Senator Durbin, who used the term liberally (no pun intended) prior to proscribing it, besides which, one cannot speak to chain migration–at least, not in anticipation of an answer, but Durbin’s difficulties with syntax are as chronic as his mendacities.

Senator Durbin, wondering aloud….

Recapturing our point, we wonder aloud: Why do the people of Illinois return this egregious jackanapes to the Senate again and again? Could it be the dynamics of entropy affect voters as well as candidates?  Or do the qualities of visibility and fulmination nowadays provide ample grounds for political longevity, supplanting such superannuated concepts as sagacity and substance in an era of dumbed-down discourse and educational decline?  We think so. We submit that energy and timarity (laudable attributes taken in isolation) are now more significant to political success than coherence or productivity; and we have seen this before, gentle readers, but mainly in the realm of pop culture. The problem we currently confront is that all culture is rapidly becoming pop culture. Once we accept this, we begin to perceive the situation’s epochal antecedents…which brings us to:

The Pinky precedent…

Take Pinky Lee as an example. (Yes, really.) Lee was a product of the burlesque era but found his niche hosting a five-afternoons-per-week TV program in the early 1950s. Occupying the time slot leading into the enormously popular Howdy Doody Show, Lee aimed his material emphatically at a juvenile audience. Each show began with the host bursting a balloon in front of the camera lens before dashing madly onto the stage where he danced fitfully while performing his uncompromisingly inane theme song, “Yoo hoo, it’s me, my name is Pinky Lee– I skip and run with lots of fun, for every he and she!” –and so on. You get the idea.

“Yoo-hoo, it’s me!”

It may surprise some readers to learn that in this long-ago time, reasonable people paid reasonable amounts of attention to what Newsweek (then an actual news magazine rather than a DNC-affiliated web page) wrote about matters both epic and trivial, and it was Newsweek’s verdict that while Lee’s antics bespoke a level of puerility no rational adult could endure for more than a nanosecond, “he expends more energy than anyone this side of Jerry Lewis.” Indeed, in an article otherwise bereft of encomia, Time magazine went so far as to call Lee “One of the hardest working men in TV.”

Lee’s phenomenal success proved that within his chosen niche, energy and determination sufficed to ensure wild popularity, albeit exclusively among children, who viewed the star’s antics as the very embodiment of quality entertainment.  To anchor our position, we will dub this observable correlation between mindless phrenetics and popular approval “the Pinky Principle.” Obviously, we are about to apply it politically.

All naiveté is local

It is an encouraging fact that Americans consistently tell pollsters congress is a cesspool brimming with nincompoops, reprobates, and larcenists—to which critique we must now add sexual predators, not because they are recently arrived, but rather because the liberal media discovered them only recently, which officialized their presence. Bewilderingly, however, the very Americans who regularly denounce congress whenever polled on the subject, regularly rate their own representatives as superior. One must either conclude that a majority of Americans is mistaken in impugning the intellectual and moral fiber of our bicameral legislature taken as a whole, or, conversely, that most Americans regularly overestimate the character and performance of their locally elected representatives. We trust our beloved readers will join us, with few exceptions, in deeming the latter hypothesis more plausible.

WOOF’s perennial endorsee Christine O’Donnell, obviously baffled by the Biden supremacy.

Evidence is overwhelming. Consider that Joe Biden was consistently elected to the Senate in Delaware from 1973 until 2009 before his elevation to the vice-presidency put his unvarnished oafishness on national display. This level of exposure belied the long-standing media portrayal of him as a canny exemplar of legislative savvy who doubled as a genius in matters of foreign policy. But until Obama handed Biden the vice-presidency, Delaware seemed perfectly content with his services, spurning not only WOOF’s beloved Christine O’Donnell, but numerous additional challengers, preferring to retain in office a manifest dolt who embarrassed himself (and, one might assume, attentive Delawareans) on a routine basis. But Biden is hardly alone.

Clothing with a name….

Johnson is also known for his fear of a helium shortage resulting in “no helium for comedians to get that high-pitched voice that we all hold near and dear to our hearts.”

Hank Johnson, (D-Ga.) grabbed national attention in 2010 when during a House Armed Services Committee hearing he confided his fears to Admiral Robert F. Willard that if more Marines were sent to Guam, “the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.” Apparently, Georgia’s 4th district shares Johnson’s concerns; he has been re-elected three times, twice in uncontested elections.

Maxine Waters–ordering Putin out of Korea.

California’s Maxine Waters only grew in popularity when she thundered her opposition to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Korea. And when she defended her support for infanticide, declaring “I must march, because my mother could not have an abortion,” the crowd cheered wildly. In fact, Waters is now touted on the Left not only as a paragon of political acuity, but of courage–as though screeching, “the Tea Party can go straight to hell,” imbues her with no less intrepidity than had she confronted a Communist tank in Tiananmen Square.  For that matter, Sheila Jackson Lee (best known for her belief that astronauts left our flag on Mars) is equally fierce in her opposition to the Tea Party. During a 2010 tirade, forgetting the word “sheets” despite several efforts to recall it, she contented herself with telling her audience that “the Tea Party is just the Klan without their–uh, that clothing with a name.” The crowd ate it up–the congresswoman’s seat is not at risk.

The MANILOW Effect?

Meanwhile, on the nominally opposing side of the aisle, the likes of John McCain, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and Lindsey Graham routinely trample primary challengers and retain high-level positions in congress even though no one seems remotely fond of them. One is reminded of the old joke that even though no one admits liking Barry Manilow, somebody bought 80 million of his records.  Oddly, Americans seem incapable of recognizing deficiencies in their most proximal representatives, even as they mark it unfailingly in everyone else’s…proving, we guess, that in politics, all naivety is local.

Promises, promises….

Tom Daschle: A case study

Tom Daschle’s official congressional portrait–where’s the hat?

Agreed, there are hopeful signs here and there, and this is entirely due to the influences of what we might call, with the purest of anti-fascistic intent, the alt media. This effect became apparent (to those with eyes to see or ears to hear) as early as 2005—back in the days when only a lucky few recipients of WOOF’s emailed alerts were routinely treated to our description of Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) as “proof positive that with enough financial backing, a ferret can be elected to the Senate.” We offer Daschle as instantial here, not because he was uniquely odious, but because he provides a clear example of a pol whose hometown persona so clashed with his inside-the-beltway comportment as to inflict massive cognitive dissonance on any careful observer.

Tom Daschle in full election-year disguise. Be vewy vewy quiet, he’s hunting assawlt wifles!

As term after senatorial term suffices to illustrate, careful observers were in short supply in South Dakota, where Daschle liked to disport himself in duck-hunting camouflage long enough to be videotaped chewing the fat around the cracker barrel like a regular guy.  Such measures deflected attention from his career as a rabid leftist intent on advancing socialism, eradicating Judeo/Christian mores, opposing tax cuts, denouncing salvific adjustments to social security, and railing against any defense expenditures not immediately advantageous to South Dakota. But fate took a subtle hand when James Jeffords (a classic example of Vermont’s tumble into sociopolitical inanity) decided it was no longer advantageous to call himself a Republican and changed his affiliation to “Independent,” by which he obviously intended “Democrat.”  This seemed an apparent godsend to Daschle since Jeffords’s defection created a Democrat majority, triggering Daschle’s elevation to majority leader. But the fates were cruel. Daschle’s newly acquired prominence had the unintended effect of making his menshevik proclivities and far-left babblings a matter of heightened focus, particularly at FOX News, which was on the ascendant in the region–even as NBC’s much-touted anchor A.J. Clemente self-destructed on live mic by glancing at his opening script and pronouncing it “f*cking sh*t!” Oops. One single, honest journalistic insight–and gone!

NBC anchor A. J. Clemente, so devoted to journalistic exactitude that he ended his career with a single sentence.

Look for the union label!

With Daschle’s increased exposure came an increased awareness of his politics—his actual politics—among the electorate. But Daschle, like John Lennon’s classic victim of unperceived vicissitude, didn’t notice that the lights had changed.  He proceeded with business as usual, incognizant that growing numbers of his constituents were taking note of his hypocrisies (suddenly treated as newsworthy by the emerging “right wing media”).  Daschle’s discomfiture was at hand. Camouflage and down-home posturing no longer obscured the legislative radicalism. Also Exposed: Daschle’s behind the scenes maneuvering to push through Big Labor’s agenda of forced unionization in exchange for donations of $34,700 from the United Food & Commercial Workers, $30,000 from the Communications Workers of America, $30,000 from the United Auto Workers, plus donations in excess of $1,200,000 from a coalition of no fewer than 75 additional unions, examinable here.

John Thune–headfaking right.

These and a host of additional revelations led to Daschle’s defeat in 2004 by Republican John Thune, marking the first defeat of a Senate party leader since 1952’s upset of Ernest McFarland by young Barry Goldwater. Daschle, true to form, exchanged public office for a position with Alston & Bird (think: Big Healthcare) where he worked as a lobbyist, lobbying in blatant contravention of federal law, which prohibits lobbying for at least a year after holding elective office. A Republican would have gone to prison, of course, but Daschle’s criminality excited only minimal curiosity among the mainstream media, and even this was allayed by Daschle’s assurance that he was not so much a lobbyist as “a special policy adviser.” How–without recourse to postmodernism–a special policy adviser may be regarded as in any respect different from a lobbyist, Daschle was never obliged to say– he being a liberal.

President Obama, whose passion for hiring radical miscreants rivaled his affinity for Islamophiles, made a game effort to install Daschle as Health and Human Services Secretary, but initial reports that the former Senator failed to declare a limousine and a chauffeur on his taxes led to an avalanche of additional concerns amounting to $140,167 in unpaid taxes plus Medicare taxes equal to 2.9 percent of the value of the car service he received, amounting to thousands of dollars in additional unpaid taxes so that Obama, already taking heat for placing a self-confessed tax cheat (Tim Geithner) in charge of the Treasury Department, abandoned Daschle–who has since restyled himself a kind of upscale 9/11 Truther, thereby retaining his dubious status of minor irritant. In a way, this is a belated (and embarrassingly phlegmatic) effort on Daschle’s part to follow an important dictate of the Pinky Principle: find your niche! If the adults think you’re an idiot, appeal to the juveniles. It worked for Pinky, the Three Stooges, Nancy Pelosi, and–in his own reptilian way–Harry Reid.  One needn’t study the principle to apply it, of course; it need only be inferred intuitively  to prove useful…and examples abound.

Tim Geithmer admitted cheating the IRS out of $42,000 and employing illegals to clean his home, but Harry Reid called the news “a hiccup,” and Obama put him in charge of the Treasury with plenty of RINO support.

Maine’s Susan Collins–niche marketer extraordinaire.

In his victory over Daschle, John Thune proved a bellwether, leading the national trend of replacing Democrats with GOP candidates. The shift became nearly tectonic in 2010 as Americans retaliated against a congress bent on shoving the importunities of Obamacare down their throats no matter their objections.  Obamacare, in fact, might have perished aborning were it not for the Pinky Principle.  It was the ever-mesial Susan Collins, (R-Maine) whose vote allowed the abomination out of committee. Asked why, she purred, “Well, I just felt I wanted to be part of history.” She changed her mind about history the following December, when she voted against the Affordable Care Act–not that it mattered; the Democrat majority was poised to override the GOP’s opposition– but Collins’s skillfully executed two-step perfectly exemplifies why Mainers have opted to endure her services since 1997–consigning themselves to a seeming eternity of burbled insincerities offered largely in defense of calculatedly schizoid policy positions. Maine is purple, meaning it swings slightly liberal but retains a staunch conservative population. Collins couldn’t kill Obamacare in committee without losing her liberal and center-left supporters. By the same token, she couldn’t vote for its passage in December without sacrificing her conservative, center-right, and libertarian voters.  She perfectly played to her niche while appearing every inch the stateswoman– a ploy remindful of her mentor, Margaret Chase Smith–but don’t get us started on that!

Save the Independents!

OMG, don’t offend him–John, Mitt and Jeb need him to win!

But if John Thune’s meteoric rise in consequence of the Obamacare backlash typified the Republican “new wave,” his post-election trajectory is every bit as instructive–demonstrative as it is of the GOP’s stealth-like shift toward an essentially liberal weltanschauung that threatens to terminate its organizational relevancy. Awash in advisers, lobbyists, media personalities and pollsters–all products of the fading paradigm of Clinton-era political analytics –most GOP freshmen are drawn irresistibly toward the loadstone of RINO orthodoxy–an orthodoxy founded on a lapidescent faith in an all-powerful center, a center rendered electorally decisive by its most legendary denizens, the “Independents.” Republicans may one day apprehend that “Independents,” like Stalin’s “Kulaks,” are a manufactured class invented by propagandists to advance the cause of collectivism. For now, however, most Republican politicians believe that Independents constitute a massive voting bloc essential to their survival. Moreover, accepted wisdom maintains that should any constituent of this voting bloc be exposed at any time to any Republican emitting uncivil tones, advancing political views describable by the media as “extreme,” or discoursing in terms that invite the epithet “divisive,” said constituent will instantly experience a trauma of such proportions that he will immediately change his political affiliation to Democrat, reconfigure his every belief and ideal to exactly mirror progressive values, and uncompromisingly vote the straight Democrat ticket for at least the remainder of the 21st century.

No Independents were offended in the manufacture of this disaster!

Thus persuaded, Republican keepers of the flame confront all incoming bearers of Tea-Party doctrine with the remedial gospel, patiently illuminating the harsh realities of governance. Newcomers are enjoined to set aside the misguided ideals of the unlettered bumpkins who elected them, embracing instead the pragmatic prescriptions of the cognoscenti—the beholders of the ‘big picture’– and always for the good of the Party.  The results are almost always calamitous, but groupthink squelches any impulse to examine matters empirically. Instead, survivors remain fixated on the weary, pre-Internet dogma sacred to the high priests of the GOP’s consulting caste. Without any apparent thought given the illogic of retaining serial blunderers at obscenely extravagant rates, Republicans continue to pass these “experts” from campaign to campaign like drunken conventioneers exchanging call girls–except that call girls are expected to perform.

Profiles in Caution

Get it?

Thune won election against Daschle with the full faith and support of the state’s conservatives, prompting University of South Dakota political scientist Bill Richardson to remark “…Thune supporters went to the polls in large numbers, part of a massive South Dakota turnout. Unofficial results show nearly 80 percent of registered voters cast ballots.” Clearly, Thune had energized his base and then some–but the fact seemed lost on him; he no sooner set foot in D.C. than he tacked toward the center and went on to endorse John McCain early in 2008, as well as Romney in early 2012, despite a rich availability of authentically conservative options.  Thune and many other erstwhile tea-partiers seemed oblivious of George Will’s timely observation that “Republican successes down the ticket will depend on the energies of the tea party and other conservatives, who will be deflated by a nominee whose blurry profile in caution communicates only calculated trimming.” Profile in Caution, get it? Romney, of course, fought his own cautiously inoffensive, painstakingly bland campaign, and got slaughtered on election day. If his campaign proved anything, it was the irrelevance of coaxing brigades of phantom Independents to the polls while armies of conservatives stay home.

“Crush them everywhere!”

Uh-oh! Mitch has his crushin’ face on!

What motivates a politician to betray his supporters and take up the cause of the entrenched swamp creatures he was elected to oppose? One can ponder the question a long time without suspecting principle! One might also ponder an additional conundrum: Why do these side-wise relocations occur exclusively–all right, almost exclusively– among Republicans? Simple: Republican shapeshifting is more obvious because the betrayals are more egregious, more visible, and wildly applauded.  Media and monied interests are nowadays leftwing franchises. The myth of the fat cat Republican endures because the media (including the entertainment industry) polish it like a prized chestnut, but power and government learned long ago to connive to their mutual advantage–and this creates a sociopolitical loadstone irresistible to GOP weaklings and opportunists.

From “Romney’s our next president” in 2012, to “Trump will never be president” in 2016, Carl Rove seems to be slightly off the beam.

The hidden disadvantage for Republicans is the absence of a  voting base supportive of their creep toward bigger government, higher taxation, dumber education, socialized healthcare, climate panic, and borderless globalism–so they have to dissemble their intentions, preaching conservative values on the stump only to wax cosmopolitan once in office.  It was during the primaries of 2014 that Mitch McConnell promised that Republican “insurgents would be destroyed,” saying of Tea Party nominees around the country, “I think we are going to crush them everywhere.” The allure of elitism is powerful, but it comes with risk. The Tom Daschle lesson is liable to be repeated until it sinks in. No matter what additional reactions to the election of Donald Trump one may profess, no reasonable observer can deny the monumental failure of the political establishment to sway the election, gain traction during the election, or correctly predict its outcome.  A review of hundreds upon hundreds of knowledgeable prognosticators–stretching from the febrile Left to the squishy, Bushite center (think Karl Rove)—reveals absolute uniformity on the point that Trump’s presidential bid, besides scaring off all the Independents, was conceptually risible, tactically absurd, politically naïve, and ultimately doomed.  These unequivocal assurances ceased only when the vote was tabulated, and the resultant sociopolitical shockwave left the prognosticators too stupefied for words…at least briefly.

The hardest working people…

Rested and ready for 2020!

Democrats on the other hand, with the pitiable exception of Hillary Clinton herself, were quick to comprehend the level of disaster, and react in strict accordance with the Pinky Principle. They may be said (by the self-same doyens who declared Clinton’s presidency inevitable), to be solidifying their base, and that is certainly one way to describe their frenzied exertions—but another way is to applaud the proficiency with which the majority of Democrats are energetically seducing the Peanut Gallery.  Calling Trump hyperbolic names, worrying about how many scoops of ice cream he prefers, fretting with studied sincerity over what racist cryptograph might be embedded in a tweeted typo, hallucinating Russian saboteurs at every voting box, embracing every outburst of fake news until the item’s blatant artificiality mandates switching to some fresher eruption of similar flapdoodle, yammering for impeachment on grounds too flimsy to merit rebutting, and all the while updating the faithful on Republican schemes to kill old people, starve poor people, and lynch black people–this is the liberal Pinky dance, and performed with crazed freneticism it still enthralls its target demographic.  In the true Pinky spirit, the messengers are compensating for puerility with sheer enthusiasm, and to paraphrase Time magazine, they are, indeed, the hardest working people in politics.

Two Peanut Galleries?

We were actually going to vote for John Edwards because we thought he could talk to dead people and get advice from Jefferson and Lincoln. Turns out that’s a different John.

As John Edwards might say–had his own career not concluded on a sour, not to say disgustingly profane note: “There are two Peanut Galleries!” One seemingly responds to the Democrat message no matter how absurdly restructured or spun. (Imagine the inconceivability, only five years ago, of anti-Russian liberals!) But even the dullest constituent, repeatedly promised that Republican policies are about to kill him, will sooner or later regard as suspicious the fact that he isn’t dead.  So, why not add the Republicans?  Why not bring in the likes of Mitt and Jeb, McCain, and Flake, ad together denounce everyone from Donald Trump to Rand Paul as deviants so far outside the rational mainstream as to repulse sensible, open-minded people worldwide?  Because this fiction predominates monopolistically inside the beltway, the GOP remains colossally inept at forming a cohesive–even a coherent–identity. The CURS (Conservatives Until Reelected) may retain the helm in both houses of congress, but so long as they occupy themselves grumbling, balking, bickering, and fumbling everything from repealing Obamacare to securing our borders in the hope that Trump, whose presidency they proclaim an embarrassment, will take the rap–the cause of progressivism is served…and the Peanut Gallery–the one, true Peanut Gallery– is satisfied.

One gallery to ruin them all!

The illusion of two peanut galleries ramifies from the jarringly different optics distinguishing Democrat juvenescence from its Republican counterpart. One explanation seems to exist for both galleries: The media. The academy certainly deserves honorable mention, but since even its most clamorous inanities cannot take purchase unless also propounded under the guise of journalism, media calls the tune. For Democrats, the tune is familiar.  Liberalism was long ago sucked into the casuistry and babble that unite contemporary journalism and post-Vietnam progressivism, while Republicans are comparative novices, awkwardly hunting for seats at the table–earnestly seeking validation while clumsily shuffling leftward.  Ceaselessly propagandized to avoid their own principles in the name of pragmatism and the spirit of outreach, Republicans grow exasperated with voters too dense to grasp the “big picture” or applaud their sophistication as they slither toward liberalism.  Surely, they tell one another, if the weekend political programs, the major dailies, the most frequently quoted websites, and the cream of the entertainment industry can unite in praising their courage and statesmanship, the morons back home will fall in line. But while Democrats flourish among dunderheads, Republicans find themselves stranded amidst a host of newfound acquaintances who smile reassuringly, but whose mock approbation will never win them a general election or raise a dollar that isn’t tethered to some radical plutocrat’s agenda.

Democrats don’t have to leave home to make their point. The GOP, on the other hand, fields a team of wannabe moderates that never enjoys a home advantage, always plays on the opposition’s turf, and barely speaks the local language. Add to this the fact that Republicans are forever “crossing the aisle” in pursuit of the unachievable, and it becomes obvious that Republicans are the bigger fools.  They could hold to principle and retain the loyalty of their base, but choose instead to curry favor from adversaries who could never reward them with an election win even if they wanted to, because offered a choice between real liberals and Republicans struggling to resemble liberals, liberals will invariably vote for real liberals while conservatives will abandon GOP apostates. As David Lee Roth might remark, it’s not rocket surgery.

“There is only one peanut gallery!”

When Republicans stick to the grassroots, they niche market intelligently, and build their base on solid, expandable ground. No peanut galleries are involved. When they drift to port because the party leadership and its in-house assemblage of “expert” consultants decrees doing so the only means of appeasing Independents while obviating the wrath of the media, they place themselves in immediately untenable circumstances, drastically reducing their odds of winning general elections and ensuring that in the unlikely event of victory, they are hobbled by commitments running contrary to the very principles that drove them to enter politics as Republicans.  When both sides of the aisle are consistently drawn toward a single source, and consistently praised or castigated by a single, media-driven audience of ill-informed enthusiasts, it is time to paraphrase William Peter Blatty’s fictional priest, Father Lankester Merrin, and insist, “There is only one peanut gallery!”

Flaking out

Will Republicans wise up? There are, WOOF is pleased to observe, increasing signs that a few GOP office holders recognize that ruination awaits those who rebuff their niche, or wrongly discern it.  One powerful example is Jeff Flake, an exemplary Tea Party hero turned RINO, or CUR, as we prefer to say at WOOF, (Conservative Until Re-elected).  Flake rose to power on a tidal wave of tea-party support but, like John Thune, quickly forsook his roots for the Old Boys’ Club. Accordingly, his politics shifted  center-left, earning him the admiration of the senate’s RINO leadership. He assured himself of media veneration in 2013 by joining the bi-partisan “Gang of Eight,” fighting for immigration reform, by which was meant amnesty for illegal aliens and open borders, and announcing “I’m a globalist.” His perfidies  earned him every accolade the leftist establishment could bestow, plus a huge fundraising dinner to ensure his re-election hosted by his fellow gang-of-eight turncoat, Marco Rubio. but Flake failed to consider the Daschle factor. Like most RINOs, he was mired in the superannuated belief that if the media love you, America will too–the very mindset that Hillary’s loss to Trump shook so violently that its adherents were plunged into fits of cognitive dissonance from which many have yet to emerge. Thus, having done everything necessary according to the prevailing wisdom to solidify his Senatorial image and insure his political permanence, Flake awoke to discover his approval rating had plunged to an abysmal 18 percent in his home state.

“Uh-oh! …I think this situation calls for a crisis of conscience!”

The conscience of a globalist…

The new president, whom all of Flake’s staunchest allies and overpaid advisers assured him would never be elected, was a boorish lout whose ignorance of the gentlemen’s club rules (by which all Republicans–if only Republicans–are expected to play) led him to make public mention of the fact that Flake was “weak on borders and crime.” And somehow, Keli Ward, a constitution-thumping conservative of the unequivocal variety, was poised to slaughter him in the primary…and she didn’t even have Marco Rubio’s endorsement!  Confronted with all of this, it might be supposed that Flake experienced a road-to-Damascus moment, but no.  So reliant do most RINOs become on the opiate of establishment adulation (the cheers from the peanut gallery) that even once its charm proves illusory, they persist in preferring  it to reality. Like Romney and McCain before him, Flake doubled down on the delusion, seeking greater infusions of establishment approval by adding pietism to his repertoire of insincerities.

Dr. Keli Ward

Plainly confronting a humiliating defeat should he pursue reelection, Flake affected to seize the moral high ground. In a farewell speech on the senate floor, he dissembled his withdrawal from the Arizona primary as an act of moral courage. His first line was the funniest.  Despite the manifest disgust with which Arizonans viewed his serial betrayals, and despite his popularity by then in single digits, and despite the fact that any bright 8-year-old could review these brutal indicators and accurately conclude that Flake could no more be re-elected in Arizona  than levitate, the Senator managed to straight-facedly intone: “There are times we must risk our careers. Now is such a time.”

Without mentioning Trump by name, Flake alluded to dark forces in high position…forces threatening to turn Americans into a “fearful, backward-looking people” and the GOP into a “fearful, backward- looking party.” At one point the performance threatened to lurch into honest self-appraisal as Flake declaimed, “A political career does not mean much if we are complicit in undermining these values,” but this transpired to refer to the norms and values that Trump was “undermining” with his “Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior.” And in this manner Jeff Flake managed to disguise what amounted to a concession speech as an act of valor.

Basking in the approval of the mainstream media and leading Democrats–what could possibly go wrong? 

Similarly, House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, who besmirched the Gadsden colors time and again after waving them aloft during his election campaigns, will seek other employment at the end of his current term. Mr. Ryan has not, thus far, attempted to portray his calculated withdrawal from an untennable political situation as an act of moral courage, but there is plenty of time yet.

And Romney, currently seeking the nomination for Senate in Utah, set the standard for cravenness when, after losing the nomination in 2008, and losing the election in 2012,  he gave his studiedly-principled stop-Trump speech, arguing that decency demanded blandness and decorum in the face of cultural collapse and pandemic institutional corruption, thus Trump was unelectable.  Americans ignored him, but the media and political elites waxed lyrical in praise of his pluck. Will this help Romney’s campaign for Senate in very-Mormon Utah? Already he’s been hit with well-financed attack ads reminding Republicans he’s “a darling of the D.C. establishment” and branding him “flip-flopper Mitt,” which connotes an exactness offsetting any lack of sparkle. The ads, which support underdog Larry Meyers for the nomination, may not prove sufficient to disable Romney’s campaign, or they may–but challenging Romney with assertions that he “isn’t conservative enough” almost qualifies as understatement.

“Mister right hand, say hello to mister left hand! Mister left hand…”

“Do it again, Pinky!” (A cautionary addendum)

It is difficult to witness the sanctimonious histrionics of Flake or Thune or the doubleminded antics of Ryan or McConnell, or endure the post-presidential maunderings of Herbert and “W” Bush, without marveling at the utter absence of tactical sagacity. Less gimlet observers might understandably pronounce themselves baffled by so much ill-considered sermonizing, rendered with such solemnity–always such solemnity. What possesses these characters to defile themselves publicly in the fashion of Dick Durbin or Harry Reid? Can they not taste the unctuousness on their lips? How does Mitt, for instance, deliver a declaration of conscience against Trump during the nominative process and then, following Trump’s election, make not one, but two trips to Washington in hopes of ingratiating himself sufficiently to secure a cabinet position, and having failed in his exertions, resume inveighing self-righteously against the man he begged to work for, all without blushing? Readers may be shocked to learn we don’t pretend to know.  We cannot divine the secrets of Mitt Romney’s soul–we can only explain the macro-systemic forces that encourage his antics.

Fustian from the Left is encouraged identically, but the Left has the advantage of ranting to the faithful while affronting only the opposition. Republicans, in contrast, estrange the faithful in order to rally the same gallery–the crowd  that otherwise raves over Adam Schiff and Chuck Schumer. There’s a reason, after all, that Schumer cannot deliver a public address without sounding like a 3rd grade teacher patronizing a classroom of 7-year-olds.  It’s less condescension, really, than a realistic appraisal of his audience; but Republicans who “cross the aisle” to bask in Schumer’s approbation never evince a similar awareness. Unlike Democrats, Republicans must abandon principle for media applause–they cross a line immediately. When this occurs, the dazzle of huzzahs and bravos from the establishment may anesthetize the pain of self-mutilation, but sooner or later every newly liberalized Republican trips over his own entrails…and the  crowd goes wild.

Jerry Ford’s pratfalls were legendary, but at least they connoted authenticity. 

In 1955, while cavorting frantically on camera to the unbridled delight of his screaming fans, Pinky Lee collapsed.  His director and cameraman assumed he was ad libbing and kept the lens on him as he writhed for an additional ten seconds or so before going limp. Suddenly aware that something was horribly amiss, the cameraman panned to the audience, and thus Pinky Lee’s final performance ended with a lengthy pan of the pre-adolescent peanut gallery cheering enthusiastically, applauding, and demanding “Do it again Pinky! Do it again!” But the hardest working man in show business had no more to give.

 

 

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Save the Mastodon! Oh, wait…on second thought, don’t bother! (Why Conservatism and the GOP Don’t Play Well Together.)

In "Dead Elephant in the Room" forum on July 5, 2016 at 11:23 am

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Few would take us to task for observing that conservatives are currently more disillusioned with the Republican Party than during any previous time in the GOP’s history. And for us to say something that few would take us to task for is nearly unprecedented, so permit us to bask in the moment. Okay, done. Now, allow us two additional points: First, that the GOP is about to implode, and second, no matter what immediate alarm this may cause conservatism, the ultimate result may be benign—even providential—for the American Right. To these auguries we boldly add our conviction that the GOP has never been a natural abode of conservatism, and is in most respects no less hostile to its doctrines than are the Democrats. See, now we went and made a lot of people angry—but we’re still the same lovable band of good-natured counterrevolutionaries we always were, so why not have a stiff drink and bear with us?

scatter chart for use

Scientific proof of Republican mendacity–or at least it would be, except we just pasted in a positive scattergram off the Internet–but you get the idea.

Consider the folly of assuming that most Republican candidates intend to pursue the programs of action they advocate while campaigning, or adhere to the broadly conservative philosophies they grandly enunciate.  We contend that a scatter chart depicting the relationship between conservative assertions made by Republicans during campaigns with the levels of empirically demonstrable deception assignable to each assertion viewed in retrospect, would produce, in the majority of cases, an impressively positive correlation. That’s from a Cartesian standpoint. From the standpoint of a concerned voter whose beliefs lie in the conservative arena, such correlations are neither impressive nor positive–they are downright infuriating.  Conservatives may also wish to consider the pathological implications of remaining, of their own volition, in a political “family” that not only deceives them in this fashion, but scorns and ridicules them whenever their backs are turned; a family that pesters them routinely for cash, promising specific outcomes, but having received the cash fulfills none of its promises and repays the contributors by pursuing outcomes antithetic to their  wishes and contrary to the understandings upon which the funds were solicited.  Put another way, American conservatives are treated by the GOP in a manner analogous to how Black Americans are treated by the DNC.

F.D.

Why was Frederick Douglass so much smarter than Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, John Lewis, and President Obama? (Even put together.)

Birth of a Notion

Henry_Clay

Henry Clay ran for president as a Whig but Jackson defeated him, For one thing, Jackson had better hair. Clay should have tried a wig.

The creation of the Republican Party was largely a result of the collapse of the Whig Party. Seen any Whigs lately? No you haven’t—and that’s because they vanished from the political landscape, victims of rancorous internecine conflicts that eroded their foundational vision until it became unrecognizable and unserviceable. And doesn’t that sound familiar? When we think of Whigs nowadays, which mostly we don’t, we tend to imagine a quirkish, ephemeral batch of regional lightweights who faded mainly because they had a dopey name and got no traction—but this is largely untrue. Initially founded in opposition to the populist caprices of Andrew Jackson whom they (quite sensibly) considered a dangerous mountebank spreading newfangled socioeconomic ideas by force of personality rather than Constitutional law, the Whigs sought to limit the powers of the executive and expand those of congress. Their numbers included Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, and William Henry Harrison.

Harrison won the presidency in 1840, pledging to serve only one term in keeping with the Whigs’ conviction that constitutional governance demanded strictly limited tenures in office. Harrison proved better than his word, delivering the longest inaugural address in American history (lasting two full hours despite frantic editing by Daniel Webster) and is popularly reputed to have caught cold during the event leading to his death three weeks later of pneumonia, or pleurisy, or enteric fever, depending on which historians one deems credible; but in any case, well within his self-imposed term limit.

zachary and horse

“Old Rough and Ready” (Zachary Taylor), with “Old Whitey,” his beloved horse. Whitey, who preferred to graze on the White House lawn, passed on the fruit and milk and lived to a ripe old age.

Whig Zachary Taylor lasted longer in the presidency, but he too met an ignominious end. Independence Day in Washington, (1850), was a scorcher, and while celebrating the holiday Taylor reportedly consumed “raw fruit and iced milk” and fell ill. His doctor diagnosed him with “cholera morbus,” and despite intensive medical treatment, or possibly because of it, he died. Whig Millard Fillmore thereupon assumed office where he earned the distinction of being the only Whig president who didn’t die there.

Thanks, Millard Fillmore!

Thanks, Millard Fillmore!

He didn’t do much else, however, unless one counts ordering Commodore Matthew Perry to open trade routes with Japan, which, as we now know, ultimately resulted in the tragic death by suicide of Madame Butterfly, to say nothing of World War II. Also at this time, a young Illinois Whig named Abraham Lincoln (you knew we were getting there, right?) first gained attention as an outspoken opponent of expansion into Texas. But Abe soon abandoned politics, possibly after realizing how drastically misguided were his criticisms of the whole Texas thing, and returned to practicing law–during which period he famously appeared as Henry Fonda in John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln.

The Grand New Party!

But more to our point, as even the most benighted graduates of our annihilative educational system must be dimly aware, Mr. Lincoln soon returned to the political arena, and this time it was personal…

lincoln images

Today’s Republican Party was founded in 1854 by a confluence of ex-Whigs, Free Soilers (a short-lived single issue party whose purpose was to prevent slavery from expanding into the western territories), and other anti-slavery factions.  The Whig Party was by then so riven with acrimony, ambivalence and dissent that it barely registered as a speed bump on the Republicans’ path to the schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin, where their firm abolitionist policies and unyielding belief that slavery was an intolerable evil sufficed to unify the young party.

fremont

Fremont: First GOP nominee, first GOP loser, got a whole state named after him in James Michener’s novel “Space.” How does that even work, really?

The first Republican convention began and ended on July 6th, 1854 in Jackson, Michigan. John C. Fremont actually won the first-ever Republican nomination and rallied the Northern states. He lost, however, to James Buchanan who managed to woo the support of a large segment of the “Know Nothing Party” despite the Republican Party’s vastly superior campaign slogan, to wit: “Free Soil, Free Men, and Fremont” which might have proved more effective had there been bumpers in 1856.

Team Abe

Lincoln's supporters took full advantage oof the fact that the uv light was not yet invented, meaning the absent security strips on forged tickets went unnoticed! l

Lincoln’s supporters took full advantage of the fact that the uv light was not yet invented, meaning the absent security strips on forged tickets went unnoticed!

By contrast, Lincoln’s presidential campaign of 1860 was encumbered with the slogan “He’s the rail candidate!” But before you scoff, consider that besides bolstering the case for hanging inept punsters, this conspicuously flawed attempt at drollery served to further publicize the lanky Kentuckian’s image as a wood-splitting, incorruptible rustic. Historians generally agree the electorate’s fascination with Honest Abe’s back-story (however embellished) played a substantial part in securing his eventual nomination. We say eventual because Abe owed his nomination to the vagaries of a brokered convention. Yes, gentle readers, Lincoln secured his party’s nomination on the third ballot, thanks largely to a good deal of connivance, agitation, and back-room bargaining orchestrated by his devoted (and crafty) supporters, many of whom crept into the convention with counterfeited tickets. Withal, Team Abe pioneered groundbreaking techniques of skullduggery that took behind-the-scenes intrigue to a level that, in retrospect, seems almost visionary…thus the “Man from Hardin County” finished ahead of William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and a sprinkling of less eminent contenders.

chase on bill

Salmon Chase had the best name, though–kind of American Indian-sounding, only not. At least he got to be on the ten-thousand dollar bill.  No, really.

President Abe

Given the well-known intellectual superiority of our loyal readership, it embarrasses us to rehearse such absurdly obvious particulars as the fact that Lincoln proceeded to win the general election, but we are obliged to risk incurring your displeasure for the sake of keeping our casual readers informed, some of whom may be Common Core products. Everyone else presumably knows that Lincoln defeated Douglas—and as a matter of fact, simultaneously defeated John C. Breckenridge, the breakaway southern Democrat, and the Constitutional Party’s John Bell. Of all the candidates, Lincoln was the only one who gave no speeches during the campaign, which may account for his success.

War torn Abe

abe_lincoln_riding_a_grizzly_by_sharpwriter-d33u2nl

We discovered this photo at Deviant Art, & while we have been unable to authenticate it, it would have been difficult to hoax as there was no Photoshop in the 1860s.

Lincoln’s election so offended his southern states that they seceded from the Union. Lincoln took the view that secession was impermissible, thus necessitating the Civil War, which was really about slavery, but keep that to yourself. The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in territories not under Union control. As “Uncle Billy” Sherman advanced farther south, more slaves were freed until all three million slaves held by the Confederacy were emancipated. Lincoln’s outspoken support contributed to the passage of the 13th Amendment, which criminalized slavery throughout the Republic even as Lincoln became the first president to blockade portions of his own country, or to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, an action that continues to draw criticism as unconstitutional, although Article I, Section 9, Clause 2 indicates (WOOF submits) otherwise.

Dead Abe

Obviously, Lincoln secured his legacy while avoiding extensive criticism of his wartime executive actions by attending a performance of “Our American Cousin” at Ford Theater where John Wilkes Booth fired a single ball from a .44 caliber derringer into the back of Mr. Lincoln’s head. As the smoke cleared, Lincoln’s mootable abuses of constitutional writ as well as his ostensibly ambivalent civil-rights utterances became the province of obscure professors and historians—who argue the fine points to this day, unnoticed. The popular takeaway included freeing the slaves, reunifying the country, compassion for the South in defeat, and a persona of wit and wisdom. Oh, and a lot of really fascinating ghostly-slash-paranormal occurrences into which we have no time delve; but that’s why we have the History Channel, after all.

Booth imagined that shooting Lincoln would make him wildly popular, which may explain why he auditioned for the stage version of 'Peter Pan' immediately afterward.

Booth imagined that shooting Lincoln would make him wildly popular, which may explain why he took a moment to audition for the stage version of ‘Peter Pan’ immediately afterward.

________________________________________

Fast forwarding….or the part you can skip if you already know it all.

To avoid unnecessarily boring anyone, we will now breeze swiftly through the list of Republican presidents who followed Lincoln, pausing here and there for lengthier discussion should their tenures warrant.

grant imagesUlysses Simpson Grant, 1869-1877: arguably conservative in his support of  gold-based, anti-inflationary hard money and paying off the national debt with gold. He reduced government spending and limited the federal work force. His active reliance on the military to enforce civil rights laws and protect African Americans may be understood in terms of the postwar environment, especially since James West and Artemus Gordon didn’t really exist. Grant drank a lot and enjoyed cigars, which may explain why Mark Twain supported him. His administration was organizationally corrupt, but like we said, he drank a lot and probably didn’t notice.

Rutherford B. Hayes, 1877-1881: Lost the popular vote but won an acrimoniously contested electoral victory when a Congressional commission ceded him 20 votes intensely disputed by Democrats. Unable to blame the Supreme Court until approximately the same thing occurred in 2000, Democrats conceded the election only because Hayes agreed to pull the military out of the Southern states, where Democrats strongly preferred leaving civil rights issues to the KKK.  He may be credited with a Reagan-esque affirmation of the Monroe Doctrine in denouncing France’s efforts to build the Suez Canal, which didn’t really matter because France proved unable to build it in any case. He is occasionally described as a “fiscal conservative,” but the evidence is thin.

James A. Garfield, 1881 – 1881: Strove to enhance free trade and modernize the navy but was interrupted in these endeavors through no fault of his own.  A disgruntled underling concealed himself, progressively enough, by hiding in the ladies’ room at the Sixth Street Railroad Station whither Garfield expected to depart on vacation. Instead, he was shot in the back, following which the exertions of his physicians finished him off.

Chester A. Arthur, 1881-1885: Assumed the presidency after Garfield’s unscheduled departure. During his single term, the New York Sun wrote, “no adventurous project alarmed the nation,” and while that may not seem a solely conservative encomium, one can hardly avoid reflecting that no such comments will be uttered at the terminus of the current office-holder’s tenure.

Benjamin Harrison, 1889-1893: Son of William Henry Harrison, (who caught cold and died earlier, remember?). Harrison drove through the McKinley Tariff, imposing unprecedented protections on trade, while simultaneously attempting to federalize educational funding (at which he failed—but those were the good old days). He nevertheless managed to hike federal spending to the tune of one-billion dollars.

William McKinley, 1897-1901:Fought what were aptly entitled the Inflationary Acts and kept America on the gold standard, but imposed more tariffs on trade. McKinley is best known for getting shot to death by Paul Czolgosz, an Anarchist from Detroit who approached the President in Buffalo, opening fire with a .32 caliber Iver Johnson revolver, not the “Johnson .41,” immortalized by Charlie Poole’s 1926 folk tune. Glad we could clear that up.

trimagesTR: 1901-1809: Nowadays Theodore Roosevelt is criticized by conservative theorists for his trust busting progressivism and support for labor unions, perhaps without appropriate consideration afforded the zeitgeist. That aside, TR enlarged and brandished the Great White Fleet, settled the Russo-Japanese war back in the day when if a President won the Nobel Peace Prize it was for actually accomplishing something, and built the Panama Canal after creating Panama. While it is difficult to view TR’s crusades against the railroads and other perceived monopolies as conservative, his ebullient patriotism, full throated support for American exceptionalism and military might, his abhorrence of “hyphenated” Americanism, and his zealous support of the Second Amendment deliver him from the liberal camp. He also despised Woodrow Wilson, which is always an indication of sound judgment. Readers who doubt TR’s red-white-and-blue bonafides are advised to view John Milius’s 1975 masterpiece, The Wind and the Lion, in which Brian Keith “becomes” (as gushy film critics like to say) President Roosevelt.  And if you can’t base your opinions on John Milius movies, what’s left, we always say!

William Howard Taft, 1909-1913: Roosevelt’s protégé, began office as a trust-busting, conservationist in the TR mold, but swung a bit starboard for Teddy’s tastes even as the former president swung further toward progressivism.  Taft dabbled at trust busting, but directed his energies toward U.S. Steel, which TR had guaranteed immunity from such matters. The two men soon became enemies. Teddy therefore ran to Taft’s social left in the next election in an effort to unseat his former disciple. His plan was a partial success, since TR’s Bull Moose Party split the vote, ousting Taft but ensuring an easy path to the White House for the execrable Woodrow Wilson. Oops.

wgh3index

Harding always looks kind of angry in his photos, but in reality he really knew how to enjoy himself.

Warren G. Harding, 1921-1923: After Wilson gave us big labor, the federal income tax, World War I, a failed military adventure in Mexico, a failed military adventure in Russia,   the Federal Reserve, abject racism in the Oval Office and prohibition, Harding seemed like a breath of fresh air…if not exactly presidential in the strict sense.  At his inaugural he confused pretty much everybody by declaring “”Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much from the government and at the same time do too little for it.” Immediately afterward, he left for Texas on vacation, after which he took a lengthy cruise. He drank in the Oval Office, engaged in open cronyism, invented the previously unknown word “normalcy,” enjoyed cards, cigars, and mistresses, but revitalized the executive branch’s support for civil rights. He died—probably of heart failure—during his first term. He was in no significant respect a conservative, but we still kind of like him.

Calvin Coolidge, 1923-1929: This is the man whose portrait graced the walls of Reagan’s White House because his presidency embodied the economic concept of laissez-faire. As was the case with most of his Republican predecessors, Coolidge strove to enhance the civil rights of Black Americans; while his staunch advocacy of small government, free-market economics, and a foreign policy unfettered by unnecessary entanglements and alliances, established the template for 20th century conservatism. He and Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon even advanced the novel hypothesis that lowering taxes would increase federal revenues, making Coolidge America’s first supply-sider.

1927, Washington, DC, USA --- 1927-Calvin Coolidge, named Chief Leading Eagle by the Sioux. 1927. BPA2# 2387 --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

In 1927 the Sioux bestowed the tribal name “Chief Leading Eagle” on Coolidge and gave him a war bonnet. It must be born in mind that the native peoples of that era were poorly educated and had yet to be taught by the white man of the evils of cultural appropriation.

_________________________________

Let us pause here, in the fond afterglow of Calvin Coolidge, gentle readers, to ask ourselves: What discernible lineaments of something we might call American Conservatism are detectable in this chronology? Occasional tropisms manifest themselves here and there, but the idea that the Republican Party is consanguine with conservatism in North America is a myth, and the swing of the Democratic Party toward the extreme left is as much responsible for it as anything accomplished by Republican office holders.  If that seems an odd assertion, consider: Nothing more effectively vouchsafes the good standing of one sibling than the misbehavior of another—and the radical descent of the Democrat party into overt collectivism is as much responsible for the chimera of Republican conservatism as anything done or uttered by Taft or Coolidge, even if anybody in the GOP remembered anything uttered by Taft or Coolidge.

_________________________________

The notorious Herbert Hoover

The first Republican widely identified as “conservative” is, of course, the notorious Herbert Hoover, whose stars so aligned that his presidency collided with the Great Depression, meaning that the Liberal Establishment Media have made his name synonymous with food lines, joblessness, and  conservative indifference. School children in the United States do not know much nowadays, but if they know anything at all about the depression, they know Hoover caused it, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt saved us from it. Ever since the smoke cleared from the Second World War, Americans have been deluged by entertainments and histories of every description dedicated to propounding this humbug.

Herbert Hoover-one thing everyone agrees on is that he lacked FDR's genial panache.

Herbert Hoover-one thing everyone agrees on is that he lacked FDR’s genial panache.

Poor Hoover—even Coolidge disliked him, resisting his candidacy at first, telling friends that “for six years that man has given me unsolicited advice—all of it bad.” It didn’t help that shortly after his election, awash in the post-war boom that characterized the “Roaring Twenties,” Hoover boldly predicted the end of scarcity in America, telling an audience: “We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land.”  Perhaps in anticipation, Hoover set about closing tax loopholes for the wealthy, enlarging the civil service, signing the inflationary Glass-Steagall Act allowing prime rediscounting at the Federal Reserve, doubling estate taxes and hiking corporate rates by 15 percent. When the depression hit, Hoover sought to counteract it by enacting the largest peacetime tax increase in history. He signed the Smoot Hawley Tariffs, which incurred a wave of international protectionism and deepened the panic.

The brilliant Murray Rothbard. Hey, Franklin, we got your anarcho-economics right here!

The brilliant Murray Rothbard, father of anarcho-economics.

He next championed the Emergency Relief and Construction Act, authorizing a flood of funds for public works programs, and created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, putting government into the business of bailing out business. Hoover, in other words, was by no means the aloof  practitioner of laissez-faire economics he is remembered as. In fact, Libertarian historian Murray Rothbard dubbed him the true father of the New Deal—a characterization Rothbard did not intend politely. Plainly, it is as ridiculous to view Hoover as the trickle-down free-marketeer who tried to ignore the Depression and pursue business as usual, as it is to portray FDR as the visionary egalitarian who saved us from it.  In fact, the Depression demonstrably worsened under FDR’s presidency. It was ended in 1941 by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned and oversaw the bombing of Pearl Harbor…but he never gets any credit.

admiral yamamota

Yamamoto gets little praise for awakening an industrial base FDR nearly suffocated–but we guess Shakespeare was right: “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with the Arizona and the Oklahoma.”

“Boy the way Glenn Miller played…”

all in the familyIn 1971, leftist TV producer Norman Lear introduced America to Archie Bunker, the cigar-champing, racist, ill-educated patriarch of the Bunker family on the wildly popular sitcom All in the Family. Archie (actor Carroll O’Connor) was intended by Lear to epitomize American conservatism, a perception that took root mainly among liberals (making them even easier to defeat in debate). Each week, Archie and wife Edith were viewed crooning the show’s opening theme, “Those Were the Days,” during which, Archie musically averred, “Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again!” This by way of shoring up our 31st president’s painstakingly artifiicialized legacy in which the name Hoover is deemed synonymous with right-wing indifference to the little guy.

Still today, Hoover’s main function in U.S. history is to exemplify the heartlessness of unchecked capitalism, and to serve as a heuristic juxtaposition to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose New Deal policies are portrayed as a nick-of-time intervention that rescued Americans from the death grip of the free market.

The rehabilitation of Annie….

anie one

Annie may have grown up in an orphanage, but she obviously kept the complete works of Friedrich Hayek under her pillow!

Who doesn’t resonate to the sardonic strains of “We’d Like to Thank You, Herbert Hoover!” from the musical Annie? But Annie exemplifies the distortion of reality imperative to liberal revisionism. Besides reinforcing the nonsense about Hoover, it blithely ignores the fact that Harold Gray’s original cartoon heroine despised FDR and all his works. In fact, Gray’s “Little Orphan Annie” strip, although massively popular, was banned by several major newspapers because it was deemed too critical of Roosevelt and his policies. The Broadway musical and subsequent film recast Annie as a worshipful moppet cuddled adoringly in Roosevelt’s lap, while Daddy Warbucks chuckles in good-natured acquiescence. (O, the infamy!)

Is nothing sacred?

Ugh! Is nothing sacred?

A final layer of irony atop these falsities is the Right’s naive readiness to suppose, in keeping with the leftist agitprop, that Hoover’s legacy somehow anchored conservatism to the Republican brand.

“Irritable mental gestures…”

Lionel Trilling--never one to gesture

Lionel Trilling–never one to gesture irritably; always sophisticatedly mental.

In 1950, Lionel Trilling assured his sophisticated readership that “in the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition…. It is the plain fact [that] there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation.” Trilling is often derided for his obtuseness in this regard, but unjustly. At the time, conservatism as an ideological influence in American politics was virtually undetectable. Trilling covered his bet slightly by adding that occasional conservative grumblings were more probably attributable to “irritable mental gestures which seem to resemble ideas.” Thus, the sprinkling of radio and newspaper commentators who took identifiably right-of-center positions were consigned to a kind of menagerie of idiosyncratic oddballs–but Trilling’s smugness was short-lived.

Have your next cup of steaming java in your very own Julius & Ethel Rosenberg commemorative mug! (It's the bomb!)

Have your next cup of morning java in your very own Ethel & Julius Rosenberg commemorative mug! (It’s the bomb!)

As the Cold War dawned in stark confutation of the carefully concocted fantasy that Mother Russia was our good friend and noble ally, it became inconveniently obvious that Democrats played the chief role in accommodating Stalin while placing America’s interests on hold (when not selling them out completely). Despite this, the anti-Communist reaction to the New Deal’s betrayals was surprisingly bipartisan.  Today, of course, our children learn that this was that silly “Red Scare,” when otherwise sensible Americans began to hallucinate en masse, seeing agents of the Kremlin behind every tree and shrub. In fact, there were plenty of Reds to be scared of; communists practically owned the state department and guided presidential policies throughout the war and afterwards. They worked largely undetected as China fell to Mao and our nuclear secrets were channeled to Russia by “atom spies,” most of whom are now American folk heroes.

About HUAC: try to remember the good times!

Protest

HUAC is perhaps most reviled for grilling the Hollywood writers and directors they suspected of subversion–so here’s a good parlor game: Can you pick out members of the “Hollywood 10” who were not communists? Answer: No, you can’t.

The villains, of course, were the right-wing nutjobs manning the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), which, while certainly subject to a variety of legitimate criticisms, was often an important vehicle of information, and never the Republican monopoly it is nowadays remembered as. Chairman Martin Dies was a Democrat, as was Joe Starnes of Alabama who memorably asked a witness during an investigation of the Federal Theater Project whether the Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe was a member of the Communist Party. John Rankin, Democrat from Mississippi, once explained that HUAC would not investigate the KKK because “after all, [it] is an old American institution.” Edward J. Hart, Democrat from New Jersey, headed the Committee in its vital investigation of Alger Hiss, although Richard Nixon (R) played a key roll in helping Whittaker Chambers expose Hiss as a Red agent.  Nixon’s part in the pursuit of Hiss, immortalized for history by photos of Nixon staring fixedly into a hollow pumpkin (Chambers having hidden his photographic evidence of Hiss’s guilt in a pumpkin patch on his Maryland farm), seems to give liberals license to brand HUAC a Republican star chamber. Still more perplexingly, it is a rare liberal who won’t proceed to complain that the nefarious Joe McCarthy (Republican Junior Senator from Wisconsin) helmed the operation, driving it to ever-more-infernal excesses against the helplessly innocent. Even Bill O’Reilly once named Senator McCarthy as the House Committee’s chief villain, which, given a moment’s thought, is clearly impossible.

Remembering the Great Terror….

“I dunno, Roy, I think I’m sticking with the side of fries and the salad.”

It is also curiously difficult to find liberals who recall the early ’50s who do not thereupon pause to lament the tragic death of an uncle, close friend, or treasured professor, who is always said to have leapt from an  11th story window “because of Joe McCarthy!” To hear liberals tell it, one might reasonably assume that walking a municipal street in 1953 meant hazarding one’s life, given the cascade of bodies steadily thudding into the pavement.   In truth, the only corpse McCarthy’s exertions can reasonably be linked to is McCarthy’s. During HUAC’s primacy and throughout McCarthy’s supposed reign of terror, let’s say between 1947 and 1957, no American citizen was interrogated without benefit of legal counsel, no witness or suspect was arrested or detained without due judicial process, nor faced imprisonment without trial.  Compare this to the complaints from Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) only last June that citizens cannot be effectively disarmed because “due process is what’s killing us right now!” Joe McCarthy never arrested anyone, sent anyone to prison, or forced anybody out a window. In fact, the only death by suicide related to the McCarthy committee was the mysterious suicide of Ray Kaplan, who (apparently) jumped in front of a truck prior to testifying—but historians rarely mention that Kaplan was a friendly witness looking forward to testifying before the Subcommittee.  Hmmm.

Evel Knievel

Maybe learning golf might have helped...?

Farm boy arrives in the big city. Maybe learning golf might have helped…?

If McCarthy’s early popularity represented an identifiably conservative backlash against the perfidies of the New Deal and the architects of postwar accommodationism, it hardly represented the Republican Party. It was, after all, Mr. Republican himself, Dwight David Eisenhower, who orchestrated McCarthy’s demise, and who did so by enlisting his vice president’s talents as a backstage cutthroat. Disbelievers may check out William Bragg Ewald’s  Who Killed Joe McCarthy? which documents Ike’s issuance of a confidential fatwa against the Senator, prosecuted behind the scenes mainly by Nixon.  It is one of history’s hidden ironies that Nixon, whom liberals loathed as “the man who got Alger Hiss,” also got Tailgunner Joe.  In the establishment’s cherished tellings. the glory goes to Edward R. Murrow (first American to pioneer disguising maliciously edited propaganda as TV journalism). But in reality, McCarthy’s kamikaze-like dedication to anti-communism–his Black-Irish refusal to give an inch no matter the cost to himself or his career–worked in combination with his late-phase alcoholism to end his career and his life, leaving the Left to synonymize his name with the vilest infamies ever after. Somebody once asked Victor Gold whom McCarthy most reminded him of, and Gold replied without hesitating: “Evel Knievel!” Mister, we could use a man like Evel Knievel again.

evel aloft

Daddy’s dead.

daddyIn the aftermath of the New Deal, the renegade right-wing  Ivy League professor Willmoore Kendall explained in a letter: “It is not, in short, my faith in the majority which I’ve lost. The majority has, in sober truth, arrived at no conclusions in the last couple of years that, on the evidence offered to it, I could fairly have expected it to reject. My concern, and disillusionment, is with the people who could have given them evidence of another kind.”  He accused the wealthy and intellectual elites of “the most gigantic and unpardonable trahison des clercs of which History offers any record.”  It’s only gotten worse. The idea of an enlightened aristocracy is wonderfully Jeffersonian. One can relate it to Ayn Rand’s ideal of the creative titan who bemoans our collectivist stumblings and takes us grandly to task. But, as Kendall presaged, another sort of aristocracy now holds sway–a ruling class of anti-American academics, wealthy capitalists who embarrassedly denounce capitalism, slavishly liberal media morons, and a compliantly leftwing glitteratti. In other words, Howard Rourke turned out to be Mark Zuckerberg, and Daddy Warbucks is dead.

The Golfer….

ike the golferBut what about Eisenhower? Remembered now as the Republican conservative who gave us America’s golden era of postwar prosperity, he seems a likely mantle bearer for the Right; surely we can like Ike in confidence?  In his 1959 primer Up from Liberalism, William F. Buckley, Jr. denounced the Eisenhower administration passionately and, we submit, accurately. On one occasion, Eisenhower, buffeted by predictable Marxist denunciations from Soviet Defense Minister Georgy Zhukov, became frazzled, remarking that it was difficult to defend Western civilization against such claims. Buckley rightly reproved the President’s ambivalence, writing that Ike  “clearly did not know what he was defending, how to defend what he defended, or even whether what he defended was defensible.” Indeed, Eisenhower’s marked inability to stand against any communist demand in the European theater during and following, the war, bespeaks exactly such an absence of insight and conviction.

up indexBut Buckley wasn’t finished; he went on to denounce Eisenhower’s vision as: “…an attitude…undirected by principle, unchained to any coherent ideas as to the nature of man and society, uncommitted to any sustained estimate of the nature or potential of the enemy.” Eisenhower, Buckley lamented, seemed “to govern in a fashion as to more or less please more or less everybody.” This may explain why everybody liked Ike, but it also confirms that he was in no strict sense a conservative. It also explains why Richard Welsh of the John Birch Society accused Eisenhower of being a communist, a charge he demanded Buckley address at a conservative banquet. Welsh listed his compilation of Ike’s sins of omission, each of which, he noted, advanced the cause of international communism, and demanded, “So Bill, doesn’t that make him a communist?” Buckley replied, “No, Richard, it makes him a golfer.”

Stolen convention!!

goldwater“What in God’s name has happened to the Republican Party?” angsted Henry Cabot Lodge as he staggered out of the febrile 1964 Republican Convention, “I hardly know any of these people!” And the most important person he didn’t know was Clif White. White parked himself in a trailer outside California’s Cow Palace and operated like a chess master. He had already led stunningly successful grassroots movements in several states recruiting delegates for the conservative cause, and now he orchestrated through a battery of telephones and walkie talkies, the seizure of the GOP convention for the advancement of an authentic conservative, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater.

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Clif White, with time stamp because he was so frenetic they only have videos of him!

White opened a meeting of his right-wing irregulars by explaining “We’re going to take over the Republican Party!” He didn’t say “take it back,” because he knew better. And he succeeded. But only for one election season. Goldwater’s repudiation at the polls made conservatism a dirty word to the GOP establishment, which reasserted its authority firmly in 1968.  Barry Goldwater scared the bejabbers out of the Democrats and the Republicans.  Eisenhower despised him and the Rockefeller Wing of the party hated his guts. Beyond that, the GOP elite never got past the drubbing Goldwater endured on election day, which occurred in part because of the candidate’s hopelessly bluff campaign style. “Sometimes,” he casually remarked, “I think we oughta just lob one into the men’s room at the Kremlin.” Offered a swig of a campaign soda beverage named in his honor (“Goldwater”), the Senator winced and opined: “This tastes like piss!” Meanwhile, the incumbent, Lyndon Johnson, was successfully persuading millions of voters that his opponent was a psychotic nuclear Napoleon who hated Blacks, hated the poor, and yearned to plunge us–horror of horrors–into a war in Vietnam. Most of all, RINOs resent to this day that Goldwater’s candidacy laid down stakes for conservatism under their “big tent.”

Or...not.

Or…not.

Even now, the liberal establishment continues to complain about Goldwater, generally maintaining the same standard of zany implausibility. A writer for Politico relates in all apparent earnestness, that “Goldwater had once proposed literally—to saw off the eastern seaboard and let it float out to sea. This was no mere figure of speech.” (Dear Lord, what a maniac!) Fifty-two years after Goldwater’s flippant crack, and eighteen years after the man’s death, the liberal media are still spouting absurdities about him. Meanwhile, his warnings about social security’s insolvency, big government’s encroachments on our liberties, and liberalism’s assault on our Constitution and ethical standards have reified.  It is our contention that any authentic conservatism in American presidential politics began with Barry Morris Goldwater’s Quixotic 1964 campaign. It may have been a disaster, but it sewed the seeds of a powerful conservative movement–and one as savagely disparaged by the GOP elitists as by their Democrat counterparts.

The Keynesian

rmnAnd next comes….Richard Nixon.  Yes, he faced impeachment for offenses that fade to insignificance juxtaposed to the enormities routinely committed by the Obama Administration, and yes, G. Gordon Liddy and Pat Buchanan supported him, but his presidency bore few conservative earmarks. He ended the conflict in Vietnam and might well have saved South Vietnam from being overwhelmed by the communist north had he remained in office—but he didn’t.  His Kissinger-inspired mission of diplomacy to communist China during which he legitimated Mao Tse Tung on the world stage was, put succinctly, nauseous. He next unveiled his ultra-leftist “New Economic Plan,” featuring wage and price controls that exceeded Teddy Kennedy’s wildest dreams, explaining,“We are all Keynesians now.” Nixon also implemented federal affirmative action, proposed a single payer healthcare system almost 40 years before Barack Obama, and proposed a guaranteed annual income. He created the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration without whose assistance we might never have invented global warming. Three of four of Nixon’s Supreme Court appointees supported Roe vs. Wade.  Worse, he paranoiacally placed himself in a position that ultimately required his resignation and ramified in the elevation to office of Jerry Ford—a man whom David Susskind described with unaccustomed acuity as a “well-intentioned mediocrity.”

elvis and dick

Fun parlor game: Can you pick out the conservative in this picture? HINT: If there’s a liberal in the room, ask him which is the conservative, and pick the other guy!

LBJ liked to explain Ford's intellectual deficiencies as the result of playing college football without a helmet. Everyone thought he was kidding, but recently discovered photographic evidence seems to lend credence to Johnson's anecdote.

LBJ liked to explain Ford’s intellectual deficiencies as the result of playing college football without a helmet. Everyone thought he was kidding, but recently-discovered photographic evidence lends credence to Johnson’s anecdotes.

About Ford it may be said that he was indeed well-intentioned, and predispositionally less liberal than Nixon proved, but he is also the man who, as a Michigan Congressman, informed Lyndon Johnson that he and wife Betty were about to embark on a fact-finding mission to Vietnam whereupon Johnson took Ford’s hand in that warmly crocodilian way of his, and oiled “Jerry, while you’re there-be sure to visit the pagodas, they’re beautiful!” Ford replied, “Mr. President, we’re not only going to visit the Pagodas–Betty and I are going to have dinner with them!” In other words, Ford was unequipped to grasp the intricacies of any profoundly felt political philosophy, in consequence of which he was, of course, a moderate. He might be viewed as reminiscent of Eisenhower in this respect, sans Ike’s familiarity with command, or favorable zeitgeist. While debating Jimmy Carter in 1976, Ford insisted his presidency had kept Eastern Europe free of Soviet domination (a lapsus lingua he might easily have walked back, but regrettably chose to to defend–ineptly–giving Carter the win).  Carter pulled well ahead in the polls, especially with every news outlet in America proclaiming him a genius of previously unimagined proportions. Sound familiar?

rwr posterAs everyone now knows, Jimmy Carter’s only real genius turned out to be for messing the country up so badly that the only good thing about his term in office was that it virtually assured  the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Reagan was our finest 20th Century president, a fact the Liberal Establishment remains devoted to obscuring by every means at its disposal. It remains mandatory liberal group think that Reagan was a clueless imbecile, but if so, he was an imbecile who saved the economy, made the energy crisis disappear, resurrected the military, cut taxes, rolled back the Brezhnev Doctrine in Grenada, bombed Gaddafi into reasonableness, and–yes–ended the Cold War, which particularly irritates liberals whose foreign-affairs gurus of that era uniformly preached the irresistible expansion of Soviet power and the absolute necessity of accommodation rather than confrontation. Asked what his strategy for managing Cold War tensions might be, Reagan smiled and rasped, “My strategy is pretty simple, really. We win, they lose.” Obviously, the Left hated him and hates him no less today–but it requires our attention here that the Republican party hated him almost as much, thwarting his 1976 effort to seize the nomination from President Ford, and resisting his 1980 campaign tooth and nail. Had it been left up to the GOP cognoscente, Jerry Ford would have once again led the ticket in 1980 despite his previously demonstrated inability to defeat Carter even as an incumbent.  As with Goldwater, the party brass thought Reagan was insane. These are the voices that today prod Republican voters, in condescendingly avuncular tones, to accept Reagan’s inappositeness to our current situation.

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Jennifer Rubin –The Washington Post’s staff is prevailing on new owner Jeff Bezos to fire her–they think she’s much too conservative.

Take Jennifer Rubin, a faux-conservative on the Washington Post’s payroll, who mocks opposition to same sex marriage, higher taxes, and come-one-come-all immigration as “the conservatism of yesterday.” “In fact,” she counsels, these “conservative“ positions are not necessarily conservative; they are part of an effort to avert the party’s eyes from the dramatic economic, social, demographic and cultural changes that have taken place over the past 30 years. They confuse the Reagan-era expression of conservatism with conservatism itself.” This is essentially a Maoist brainwashing technique–the manipulation of meaning and narrative to, in this case, make conservatism appear to be something conservatism cannot be, otherwise known as liberalism.  Douglas MacArthur once reminded FDR that “the things I value never change,” and if this conservative axiom is replaceable by a pragmatism of the nonce, than nothing remains to conserve. Rubin goes on to lament that “reactionary” organizations like the Heritage Foundation have failed to evolve as she prescribes. Heritage has gone so astray, she says, that it now attempts to “insulate the party from heretics and cement an agenda it advanced 30 years ago.” Insulate the party? Is Rubin daft? The Party qua the Party fully expected to put Jeb Bush up against Hillary. It reviled Ted Cruz, whom Boehner called the spawn of Satan. Jennifer, your brand of “conservatism” is alive and well in the GOP. It is the conservative movement that is insulated from it. Your essential error, besides misunderstanding the conservative ethos, is confusing it with the Republican Party.

George the First

george 1George Herbert Walker Bush—what can we say? The man who said “read my lips, no new taxes,” and then forgot he said it, (possibly because he couldn’t tell Reaganomics from “Voodoo”–or maybe because he forgot to read his own lips) may at least be remembered as leading us to a crushing victory over Iraq in 1991, even though the bad guy got away…and despite the fact that the Presidential nerve might have failed, had Margaret Thatcher not insisted at an auspicious moment, “Oh, George, this is no time to go all wobbly!” (Thanks for that, Mrs. Thatcher!)

George, son of George

imagesNow about “W”—George 43 still enjoys a lot of right-of-center affection, and his support in general has grown considerably now that Americans have Obama to compare him to, but when you think about it, any American president compares favorably to the current office holder. And while “W” gets high points for tax cuts, supporting the sanctity of traditional marriage, opposing partial-birth abortion, and for his noble effort to reform social security through privatization (opposed by the Democrats who used their media machine to persuade Americans it was a crazed attempt to starve old people), it remains difficult to call his presidency conservative, especially given enthusiastic funding hikes for various government programs including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health combined with “W’s” seeming unfamiliarity with the concept of the veto, creating spending explosions rivaling those incurred by Lyndon Johnson’s “Great-Society.” He must also be viewed as condoning illegal immigration–a blithe acceptance of foreign nationals streaming  across our southern border that amounted then, as now, to dereliction of duty by the executive branch.

A brief apostrophe to the unhinged:

It is also necessary, we suppose, to observe Bush’s involvement in 911, when he and Dick Cheney posed as elevator repairmen in order to dump massive volumes of Thermite into the elevator shafts of the World Trade Center, and then, having some left over, decided arbitrarily to do the same thing in Building Number 7,  which otherwise could not possibly have collapsed. Moreover, many consider Bush’s decision during Hurricane Katrina to blow up the dike system protecting New Orleans in order to drown Black people unacceptably racist and mean-spirited. There, we got that out of the way, and now back to reality:

lizards

Oh, except to add: the whole Bush family and its chief advisers are reptile aliens from the Draco constellation– that’s right!–here’s photographic proof from the Internet!

Culling all CURs….

rimagesIn examining current efforts to drive conservatism from the ranks of the GOP, let’s look at the term RINO and consider its inherent inaccuracy. Calling left-leaning Republicans “Republican In Name Only” bolsters the misapprehension that Republican officials are conservative except for rare instances of apostasy when this or that misguided freshman may utter some sentiment at odds with his party’s profoundly dextral values. We have spent quite a few paragraphs demonstrating the ludicrosity of this characterization, so why not adjust the terminology to better fit the phenomenon?  A Republican majority capable of surrendering its power of the purse, rubber stamping Obama’s trade and budgetary disasters, cheerfully backing his errant globalism, “crossing the aisle” to seek “immigration reform,” ignoring its constitutional role in treaty ratification while permitting rule by fiat to continue unchallenged, and which preceded all this with a promise not to impeach the president no matter what–is in no respect a party of conservative opposition. It isn’t any sort of opposition. It is a confederacy of jelly fish…and the natural abode of John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Susan Collins, Paul Ryan, and of course, Lindsey Graham, as the Beaver.

Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce

In his Devil’s Dictionary (1911), Ambrose Bierce reviewed the traditional parliamentary use of “honorable,” informing his readers that “In legislative bodies it is customary to mention all members as honorable.” To demonstrate, Bierce offered his readers a sample locution, namely, “the honorable gentleman is a scurvy cur.” A “cur,” of course, is a dog, or, according to Merriam Webster, “a dog that is a mix of different breeds : a low, bad, or disliked dog,” and by metaphoric extension, ” a surly or cowardly fellow.” This serves nicely, we think, as a more descriptive acronym for Republican hacks who hide their progressive identities and play at conservatism until the rubes send them back to Washington.  Such politicians may be 100% Republican–but they are only Conservatives Until Reelected. 

The CURs, we submit, have damaged the GOP beyond repair.  The new media have made it impossible for them to win elections pretending to be Barry Goldwater only to serve out their terms as Lowell Weicker; and simply  having an “R” after one’s name no longer beguiles the yokels.  As Romney’s loss in 2012 proved, faced with the option of voting for the lesser of two evils, at least 3 million registered Republicans won’t vote at all. Thus, while it may be perfectly defensible to say Republicans have no obligation to be conservative, it is equally true that without its conservative base, the GOP has no hope of winning elections, and conservatives have no obligation to be Republicans.

A quantum of solace…

quantum

The title is from a James Bond short story by Fleming, recently co-opted as the title of a Bond film which, keeping with tradition, bore no recognizable resemblance to the short story.

The CURs (or RINOs) have yet to absorb this reality. When they do, they will not attempt to be more authentically conservative–they will blame conservative talk radio–which they already hate with a passion– and “cross the aisle” to look statesmanlike in their eagerness to help rid America of it.  It won’t help.  The rubes are hip, and the GOP elites have already exhausted what Ian Fleming might call the electorate’s quantum of solace. Promising to be good over and over won’t work in most districts–but even if voters in some states are preternaturally forgiving, other factors threaten destruction for other reasons.

The Trump card….

trump cardTalk radio is also widely blamed by the GOP for Donald Trump, an irony of near-Sophoclean proportions. Trump, no matter what else may be said of  him, is a sort of political tulpa conjured in wrath by a scorned electorate. As such, he may wittingly or unwittingly become the agent of doom for the GOP. One may freely despise, love, or wax indifferent to Donald Trump personally and still see three ways he could terminate the Republicans. First, and most topically, the GOP may yet contrive to deny Trump the party’s nomination by steamrolling him at the convention and replacing him with some acceptable CUR–somebody they know we’d prefer, too, if we weren’t so stupid.  The immediate result in Cleveland, obviously, would be blood on the walls–but this eludes the CURs, so nestled are they within the Beltway bubble. Besides, if Trump is unseated, he will run independently–and the GOP will come in third. If he wins the  floor fight at the convention, he will run as a Republican, but the entire Republican infrastructure will go up in flames. The third possibility is one in which Trump receives the GOP nomination, runs against Hillary, and loses. This would entail substantial numbers of big-name Republicans siding with Hillary, some overtly, others implicitly or secretly. WOOF knows the Republican “leadership” currently favors this option–a gambit, they believe, in which a tactical sacrifice (the White House) conduces toward a strategic victory (the party leadership remains intact and retains its power).  But a party that prefers keeping its Good Old Boys unruffled to winning the presidency is functionally moribund.  The GOP is willfully embracing extinction–a mastodon strolling heedlessly toward the La Brea Tar Pits, contemplating lunch.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell--our man crushing the Tea Party

Senate Majority Leader McConnell–protecting us from the Tea Party.

For the time being, Mitch McConnell may be able to wheel, deal, backstab and fundraise on such a scale that his vow to “crush [the Tea Party] everywhere” seems plausible, but this is hardly to say rational.   Once conservatives awaken to the level of philosophical rejection such rantings embody, and the chilling degree of amoral self-absorption they betray–  they will storm the exits. Without them, the GOP cannot win elections. Trump supporters, taken as another subset of GOP voters, may overlap the conservatives, but in many important respects they are a distinct species. Lose the Trumpites and the party loses not only their passion and sheer numbers– it simultaneously writes off many freshly recruited Independents, Hispanics, Blacks, and yes, Gays, who arrived with Trump. At some juncture the CUR leadership may realize that saving the party from “threats” like Cruz, Paul, Lee, and such embarrassing rustics as Sarah Palin, leaves them with tickets exclusively featuring their squishy, unprincipled “moderate” chums, whom millions of registered Republicans rightly despise.

A cautionary prehistoric tale… 

spear tipThe precursor to the elephant, the mastodon, disappeared from the North American continent at the end of the Pleistocene period, around 11,000 years ago. Most contemporary theorists now agree that the population dwindled over centuries rather than vanishing as the result of some sudden catastrophe. It is increasingly theorized, moreover, that humans may have played a key role–a theory that met with establishment scorn until a 13,800-year-old spear tip was found embedded in a Mastodon’s ribs. Soon more spear tips showed up in Mastodon skulls and ribcages.

Did cavemen kill the mastodons and then dump them in tar pits as a counter-forensic ploy? Whatever the case, those little cave dwellers who were not even supposed to exist before the Clovis period, hunted the Mastodon, possibly to extinction, or at least assisted nature in effecting its demise. And despite growing evidence to this effect, many archeologists persist in RINO-like levels of denial.”Maybe,” one expert told London’s Daily Mail, “the reason was something completely different, for instance the climate.” And we suspect the Mastodons were just as dismissive of those pesky pre-Clovisians in their day. Perhaps they concocted derogatory nicknames for them– although nobody at this remove can recall the pre-Clovisian term for “tea bagger.”

“That does it, I’m not doing any more of these town hall appearances!”

thumbnail_largeSoon, we predict, the GOP will go the way of the Mastodon– a victim of its inability to adjust to unexpected phenomena like Donald Trump, and its failure to realize the stupidity of brushing off all those pesky neanderthalic tribespeople in flyover country. Something new and better suited to our epoch and our cause will emerge from the bone pile–necessarily a movement less dismissive of conservative and libertarian beliefs; a party free of fossils like Boehner, Ryan, McCain, Graham, and Jeb!–all evolutionary rejects writ large. Conservatism and pro-Constitutionalism will regroup and flourish beneath some more vibrant banner while the Republican Party follows the Whigs, the Know-Nothings, the Anti-Masonic Party, the American Vegetarian Party,and the never-to-be-forgotten Rent is Too Damn High Party, into obscurity.

In fact, years hence, when some intrepid reporter asks Boehner or Graham whether selling out the American Right, tantruming over primary results not to their liking, abdicating their constitutional authority, and consistently misrepresenting their intentions to voters might have contributed to their party’s undoing, we fully expect the interviewee to reply, “Maybe the reason was something completely different, for instance the climate.” WOOF PRINT

annie annie4

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