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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Big Tent Paradox

The biggest tent of all is burning. Or haven't the RINOs noticed?

REASONABLENESSITUDE. The purpose of this post is not to beat up on Allah. It's to get a jump on the furious debate that's going to be raging throughout the lead-up to the 2010 mid-term elections. Here's Allah's headline and a sample of his thinking:

Poll: 51% of Republicans would rather
risk losing elections than win with RINOs

Reminds me of Jim DeMint notoriously saying that heíd rather have 30 pure conservatives in the Senate than a centrist Republican majority, presumably so that he could lose with honor on every single vote...

Democrats are +20 on whether theyíd rather win with centrists than lose with true believers; Republicans are -8. Thatís not a huge problem when moderates are trending right after gagging on Hopenchange for the better part of a year -- note that The Oneís approval rating is now 45 percent among independents, down seven points in just a month -- but if/when unemployment starts to recover and the trend stabilizes, itís a major problem. A 28-point spread between the parties on this point essentially places the GOPís fortunes in the Democratsí hands: The only way the right wins a majority is if the left screws things up so egregiously that even staunch conservatives are apt to beat centrist Democrats head to head. Itís a passive strategy, but itís a strategy, I guess. Exit question one: If the GOPís so conservative these days, how is it that only 44 percent of Republicans want Palin to run for president versus 48 percent who donít?

It's a pretty short position statement but a telling one. It also lends itself to fisking almost line by line, beginning with that headline: 51% of Republicans would rather risk losing elections than win with RINOs. Alternatively, Republicans are finally, with the fate of the whole country on the line, prepared to make a principled stand rather than continue the squishy compromises that have led, seemingly inevitably, to the most leftist presidential administration and congress in American history. That's stupid, is it?

Then we confront the beginning of his oh-so rational argument: Democrats are +20 on whether theyíd rather win with centrists than lose with true believers; Republicans are -8. Thatís not a huge problem when moderates are trending right after gagging on Hopenchange for the better part of a year -- note that The Oneís approval rating is now 45 percent among independents, down seven points in just a month -- but if/when unemployment starts to recover and the trend stabilizes, itís a major problem. This is an argument that exposes much about the person making it. Principally that politics is not fundamentally about right and wrong policies for the country, but about playing the tidal ebb and flow of the game. It seems to assume that circumstances will sometimes favor Democrats and sometimes Republicans, almost at random, and the winner is the political operator who picks the cagiest advocacy position, not the truest one. For example, it hasn't yet occurred to AllahPundit -- can you believe it? -- that it's belief in principle which leads conservatives to the conviction that no real improvement in the economy is possible under the current regime. The Dems can screw around all they want with spin and statistical phantasms, but their policies are gutting the native resilience of the American economy. Yes, it would be a major problem if the economy somehow survived all the silver bullets that have been fired into its heart, but that's hardly a question of Las Vegas point-spreads. It's not going to happen because the Obama policies are absolutely dead wrong. What we believe.

More sophistry: A 28-point spread between the parties on this point essentially places the GOPís fortunes in the Democratsí hands: The only way the right wins a majority is if the left screws things up so egregiously that even staunch conservatives are apt to beat centrist Democrats head to head. Itís a passive strategy, but itís a strategy, I guess. He "guesses." Let me repeat his silliest point: "if the left screws things up so egregiously that even staunch conservatives are apt to beat centrist Democrats head to head." Ya think? Isn't that the whole point? This isn't some spin of the roulette wheel in which the Dems either screw things up "egregiously" or they don't, depending on where the ball drops. For those who actually have principles, it's not a guessing game at all. The Dems are screwing things up, not only egregiously but close to fatally. Opposition to this is, in the same terms, not a strategy, passive or aggressive; it's an indispensable requirement. Before we ever get to the question of what we would do instead, we have to stop the wanton demolition of the most successful nation-state ever conceived by the human mind. If you can't see that, you can't see anything or understand anything. I guess.

Proof:† Exit question one: If the GOPís so conservative these days, how is it that only 44 percent of Republicans want Palin to run for president versus 48 percent who donít? Bad assumptions and bad analysis ultimately lead to clownishness. Which is what we're getting here. Conservatives almost universally admire Palin, but they're not sure she's the right candidate to overthrow a president whose weaknesses mirror her own -- lack of experience, a celebrity based on life story rather than decades of accomplishment, and a native charisma of similar type to that which has caused the American electorate to make its most disastrous mistake ever. These are objections that have nothing to do with moderation; they are pragmatic and wise reservations for a constituency which knows that it MUST win the next presidential election or lose their country.

Here are some obvious facts AllahPundit and his ilk have consistently overlooked. As many had feared, Obama is shaping up as a weak, foolish, and utterly unqualified president akin to Jimmy Carter, though far more ideological and dangerous. The only way to deal with a disaster of such magnitude is not to make the conservative tent bigger, but to bring more people into the necessary tent. That's how Reagan trounced Carter in 1980. Nations do reach crossroads, places where the available paths diverge sharply. The challenge is to make even the noncommital, undecided, endlessly appeasing compromisers choose which fundamental direction is right and which is wrong. To ask even the barely principled to make a principled choice, because sometimes only principled choices matter.

Consider. Allah's scorn of hardass conservatism is also an implicit defense of the betrayals of Jim Jeffords, Olympia Snowe, her evil twin whose name I can't quite recall (just kidding, Susan Collins), Arlen Specter, Colin Powell, and the obsession with dealing with the devil we've seen in "Big-Tent" moderates like Lindsey Graham and his sponsor ("who's your daddy?") John McCain. (Allah does go on about about beta males. Tell you anything?)

That last name is brutally relevant. I'm hardly the first to make this point, but I'll be damned if I ever forget it. Weren't we proselytized by the politically savvy Republican moderates that nominating McCain would appeal to Independents, broaden the reach of the Republicans who had so often been tarred as rigid reactionaries? What happened? All the prominent moderates and Independents we were pandering to endorsed and voted for Obama. I mean, if there's hardly any difference between the Dem and the Repub, all the kudos go to endorsing the Dem. Hell, I'm not even certain that McCain voted for McCain. I know his damn daughter didn't.

It better not be that easy next time. And the AllahPundits of this world had better think up a new schtick for the next election cycle. Because the old one keeps reminding me of Neville Chamberlain.

Sorry, Allah. Sorry, Ed, Sorry, Michelle. I know you're making money by covering the whole waterfront with seemingly disparate positions that add up to Republican diversity. But there can be no acceptable diversity when what's at stake is our country. That's not a polling kerfuffle. For most of us, the ones who don't make our living posturing about who's up and who's down today, it's a bitterly real question of whether we get to live the rest of our lives free or as slaves of the state. If the Independents can't figure that out in spite of your temporizing, well, screw-em. Sometimes a smaller tent is more attractive -- because it seems more of an accomplishment to get into. That's the paradox.

Just so you know.

UPDATE. As should be obvious, AllahPundit linked this post (thank you, AP), and a lot of his commenters came by to read it. I've responded to some of their points here. Yup. Patrick included.







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