With nearly 25% of the vote, “None of the above” leads the latest GOP presidential poll from AP. Apparently the pro-choice crossdresser, the imploding torture maverick, the empty suit TV star and the plasticine Mormon generated less Joementum! than expected.
For what it’s worth I strongly doubt that random chance produced a GOP field this comically out of touch. If you haven’t done so already, take a minute to read Johann Hari’s story about communing with The Base on National Review’s annual cruise. Set aside some time, becuase once you start you can’t stop. It is like trying to drive past a 747 crashed into a train. A representative snippet:
I lie on the beach with Hillary-Ann, a chatty, scatty 35-year-old Californian designer. As she explains the perils of Republican dating, my mind drifts, watching the gentle tide. When I hear her say, ” Of course, we need to execute some of these people,” I wake up. Who do we need to execute? She runs her fingers through the sand lazily. “A few of these prominent liberals who are trying to demoralise the country,” she says. “Just take a couple of these anti-war people off to the gas chamber for treason to show, if you try to bring down America at a time of war, that’s what you’ll get.” She squints at the sun and smiles. ” Then things’ll change.”
No shit. Gas chambers. Or read this, about The Base’s grip on reality:
“Aren’t you embarrassed by the absence of these weapons?” Buckley snaps at Podhoretz. He has just explained that he supported the war reluctantly, because Dick Cheney convinced him Saddam Hussein had WMD primed to be fired. “No,” Podhoretz replies. “As I say, they were shipped to Syria. During Gulf War I, the entire Iraqi air force was hidden in the deserts in Iran.” He says he is “heartbroken” by this ” rise of defeatism on the right.” He adds, apropos of nothing, “There was nobody better than Don Rumsfeld. This defeatist talk only contributes to the impression we are losing, when I think we’re winning.” The audience cheers Podhoretz. The nuanced doubts of Bill Buckley leave them confused. Doesn’t he sound like the liberal media? Later, over dinner, a tablemate from Denver calls Buckley “a coward”. His wife nods and says, ” Buckley’s an old man,” tapping her head with her finger to suggest dementia.
Conservative lions like J-Pod (N-Pod? my bad.) represent a movement that has run so wholly off the rails that even objective, easy-to-prove truths become anathema. Relativism is the new word of the day. Things that they want to be true, need to be true, become true by virtue of how painful it would be to admit their falseness. The only way to maintain the fiction that Movement Conservatives represent pure, metaphysical good is to move further and further into an imaginary cartoon world inhabited by armed, pastel-colored conservative unicorns and an inchoate mix of pernicious Others.
They rush through the Rush-list of liberals who hate America, who want her to fail, and I ask them – why are liberals like this? What’s their motivation? They stutter to a halt and there is a long, puzzled silence. ” It’s a good question,” one of them, Martha, says finally. I have asked them to peer into the minds of cartoons and they are suddenly, reluctantly confronted with the hollowness of their creation. “There have always been intellectuals who want to tell people how to live,” Martha adds, to an almost visible sense of relief. That’s it – the intellectuals! They are not like us. Dave changes the subject, to wash away this moment of cognitive dissonance. “The liberals don’t believe in the constitution. They don’t believe in what the founders wanted – a strong executive,” he announces, to nods. A Filipino waiter offers him a top-up of his wine, and he mock-whispers to me, “They all look the same! Can you tell them apart?” I stare out to sea. How long would it take me to drown?
We get crazies because only crazies are acceptable today. Iraq did not sink John McCain; every frontrunner supports sending more kids and staying forever. McCain’s heterodoxy on immigration and torture did him in. The Base demands nominees who will satisfy their view of the world and themselves, but their worldview is a half baked, self-contradictory mishmash of cartoons and caricatures.
The Base got what it asked for. They feel entitled to leaders who reflect their worldview no matter what the real-world consequences. Like other parties that flirt with irrelevancy (e.g., Greens) they would rather be pure than win. Loath as I am to give Republicans useful advice, Bill Buckley needs to simmer down the loopy Base before his precious GOP becomes an irrelevant catchbasin for islamophobic Naderites.
On a slightly different topic, the first time I read this snippet:
“The liberals don’t believe in the constitution. They don’t believe in what the founders wanted – a strong executive,”
…two words popped into my mind: President Hillary. I bet that the 2009 National Review cruise will be hopping with demands for unrestrained presidential power.