I’m a pretty partisan guy, but there are conservatives I love talking politics with and liberals I hate talking politics with. The real divide for me — in terms of whose reasoning I can understand — goes like this. There are people who think that all we need is for a Mr. Smith type motherfucker to go pour his heart out about what he knows is right, there are people who think think what we need is a Continental Op type motherfucker to outsmart and out-trick the low-lifes who rule us now. Of course, it is true that liberals are much more likely to say that their guy is engaging in 11-dimensional prostitution for a greater cause, while conservaties are more likely to say that their guy genuinely believes that taxing capital gains makes the Baby Jesus cry, but that’s rule that has many exceptions.
What I don’t get about the Mr. Smith-lovers is where in their real lives have they ever seen that kind of thing working? I never have. Have you? I believe that, relative to other workplaces, my workplace is a paradise of reasonably aboveboard, rational decision-making, and I say that gratefully, not smugly. Even so, when something strange happens that I don’t understand, and I succeed in getting to the more or less bottom of it, it is usually more Big Sleep than Wonderful Life.
Straight-talking activists are great, Martin Luther King did more for this country than any post WWII president, it’s not even close. (And he was a canny operator too, to his credit.) But I’d like to know when a president ever operated this way successfully.
People say “I just want a president to fight for something.” What the fuck does that even mean?
You probably know the old Winston Churchill story. It’s not my favorite because I don’t like the sexist implications but here it is.
Churchill: “Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?”
Socialite: “My goodness, Mr. Churchill… Well, I suppose… we would have to discuss terms, of course…”
Churchill: “Would you sleep with me for five pounds?”
Socialite: “Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!”
Churchill: “Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.”
If David Koch guaranteed Obama reelection if Obama allowed a little more offshore drilling or strip mining, Obama would be a fool not to take the deal. Ditto for if his advisers told him he guaranteed get enough “white working class voters” to get re-elected this way.
If Obama or Clinton or whoever cuts a shitty deal that enacts bad policy and gets nothing for it, politically, then shame on them. But when it comes to what kind of a person they are, we’ve already established that, I hope, because I sure don’t want Jimmy Stewart running the country.