Obama’s Second Term

I must say I am looking forward to the President’s second Inaugural Address on Monday. In my lifetime there have only been two second term Democratic presidencies and Bill Clinton began his second term with the shadow of the Whitewater and Trooper gate  allegations hanging over him. He had already begun his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky, and so the events that led to his impeachment were already in motion. Barack Obama on the other hand begins his second term with a much bigger mandate (51% of the popular vote to Clinton’s 49%) and no threat of scandal.

Equally important, the Republican Party is in complete disarray, as can be seen by their cave in today on the debt ceiling. David Brooks wrote an unintentionally humorous column today complaining that Obama is being too tough on the Republicans at the very moment of their meltdown. After laying out how he would hope Obama might propose some small bore initiatives that Eric Cantor could agree on, Brooks then states he doesn’t think that is going to happen, unintentionally laying out a perfect strategy for the Democrats..

It’s more likely that today’s majority party is going to adopt a different strategy, which you might call Kill the Wounded. It’s more likely that today’s Democrats are going to tell themselves something like this:

“We live at a unique moment. Our opponents, the Republicans, are divided, confused and bleeding. This is not the time to allow them to rebuild their reputation with a series of modest accomplishments. This is the time to kick them when they are down, to win back the House and end the current version of the Republican Party.

“First, we change the narrative. The president ran in 2008 against Washington dysfunction, casting blame on both parties. Over the years, he has migrated to a different narrative: The Republicans are crazy. Washington could be working fine, but the Republicans are crazy.

“At every public appearance, the president should double-down on that theme. The Democratic base already believes it. The media is sympathetic. Independents could be persuaded.

“Then, wedge issues. The president should propose no new measures that might unite Republicans, the way health care did in the first term. Instead, he should raise a series of wedge issues meant to divide Southerners from Midwesterners, the Tea Party/Talk Radio base from the less ideological corporate and managerial class.

“He’s already started with a perfectly designed gun control package, inviting a long battle with the N.R.A. over background checks and magazine clips. That will divide the gun lobby from suburbanites. Then he can re-introduce Bush’s comprehensive immigration reform. That will divide the anti-immigration groups from the business groups (conventional wisdom underestimates how hard it is going to be for Republicans to back comprehensive reforms).

“Then he could invite a series of confrontations with Republicans over things like the debt ceiling — make them look like wackos willing to endanger the entire global economy. Along the way, he could highlight women’s issues, social mobility issues (student loans, community college funding) and pick fights on compassion issues, (hurricane relief) — promoting any small, popular spending programs that Republicans will oppose.

“Twice a month, Democrats should force Republicans to cast an awful vote: either offend mainstream supporters or risk a primary challenge from the right.”

Just as Senator Mitch McConnell made defeating President Obama his main political objective, Democrats seem likely to make winning back the House their primary political objective. Experts are divided on how plausible this is, but the G.O.P. is unpopular and the opportunity is there.

I need to congratulate Brooks on this wonderful plan for Obama’s first two years of his second term. If the Democrats can continue to highlight the crazy agenda of the Tea Party/Talk Radio Republican Party, then a Democratic Victory in the 2014 midterms could be a reality.

But there are other reasons I am confident about the next four years. The appointment of John Kerry and Chuck Hagel to head State and Defense are an incredibly strong signal that the 70 year long era of America being the World’s unpaid policeman is over. Both Kerry and Hagel are veterans who know the true cost of war and they will introduce a dose of realism to our foreign policy. Writing about Obama’s decision to accelerate the Afghanistan departure and to stay out of Mali, the analyst George Friedman framed the new policy as Avoiding Wars the Never End.

The United States is not just drawing down its combat commitments; it is moving away from the view that it has the primary responsibility for trying to manage the world on behalf of itself, the Europeans and its other allies. Instead, that burden is shifting to those who have immediate interests involved.

Our ability to cut our bloated Pentagon will also free up resources to begin the infrastructure rebuilding that is critical to the American future. As I have been saying in my America 3.0 speeches, we are so much better positioned to create a sustainable society in the face of the global challenges of climate change, the disappearance of work and cultural anomie. But we need to rebuild our depression era infrastructure.

So Barack has a chance on Monday to paint a vision for America 3.0–a country that can adapt to globalization, robotics and rising oceans. Of course there is 20% of the country that is basically batshit paranoid, having been fueled by the big lies of Rush, Glenn and Sean. But we all have to ignore these morons. Many of them are old and will be gone by the time our children inherit this country. Hopefully by then we will be a more generous, diverse and less imperial nation.

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26 Responses to Obama’s Second Term

  1. len says:

    So ends Wilsonian democracy. The world is not meant to be safe for democracy. It has to be safe from it when it like any other form of social contract is persuaded to be a rabid defender of it’s own self-importance.

    I’d be wary of turning up the confrontations too hot. Minorities can be disregarded and have been until conflict becomes asynchronous and asymetric. Everyone understands that game now.

  2. Paul Zullo says:

    I share your optimism. The coalition that re-elected President Obama fuels my hope for the future of my 12 year old daughter.

    Your last paragraph made my morning.


  3. The frontline of this battle isn’t so much in Washington as it is at the grassroots. And at the grassroots the biggest problem is what demographers have come to refer to as “the low-information voter.” That’s a nice way of saying “stupid people who vote against their own best interests because they get all their information from places like Fox News.” Ignorance has been allowed to rise to a level of respectability never before seen in an advanced society. Science… to them… the enemy, because it threatens their superstitions and fantasies. Until we get a handle on America’s spreading ignorance-problem little else we do can succeed. It’s no accident, for example, that the House of Representatives is now so filled with the progeny of ignorance that nothing — good anyway — can get done. It’s time to stop being polite, and start calling stupid by its proper name… ignorance. And, in the information age, ignorance is a choice.

  4. Rick Turner says:

    Thank you, Stephen.

  5. len says:

    in the information age, ignorance is a choice.

    Well said, a bit fat headed, but quotable.

    When the web was first being built the best experts in the field said it was impossible to spread a virus through email. Then scripting engines were put in email editors and…

    Things change.

    When the Rosenbergs were executed, protests were launched across the country against the overzealous prosecution and mean-spirited execution. In the red scare that followed, many were convinced the government was a lunatic institution. Forty years later the venona papers provided the evidence of the guilt of Julius Rosenberg and Whittaker Chamber’s accusations of Alger Hiss were corroborated.

    Things are discovered.

    Be careful of too much certainty in the information age. Evidence is not proof and moral certainty is hard to come by when the medium of that age, the web, is nothing more than an ampifier tuned by inbound links, the wisdom of mobs. Caveat emptor.

    Are they ignorant? In most cases, yes, and too easily led. Call it stupid, if you like, but behind that stupidity are very clever willing intensional leaders. Again, the world has to be safe from democracy as well. It comes down to the goodness of the voice, the proof in the message, and the forethought of the man. Caveat vendor.

  6. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Excuse me, our world, the aboriginal and tragically remade New World, definitively was and is made For Democracy, if that’s what 18th Century eggheads want to call it. Just because we all now celebrate volume, beauty and base competence as truth does not mean that we in any way exercise Democracy. We have not done for a very long time, depending upon who you think “we” are.

  7. Hugo St. Victor says:

    …I pull away from the so many slights and try to see us whole. Whole. As long ago, before, once in Beauty and Abundance. Like the Christic moment it lasts for about thirty seconds, and afterwards we dive or soar, going broke or alternately making million$ off it; heartbreak or scam, take your pick, “a broken arrow” definitely can bring a bottle or two. “Be Real” means, for the uninitiated, “live a a liberating truth”. Any one would do. Just, no BS.

  8. Rick Turner says:

    Just saw “Lincoln”…incredible movie, and there was a guy who knew how to work for what he could get…

    And who’d have thought we’d have a black president before we get a Jewish one?

    The prejudices are still embedded…

  9. Hugo St. Victor says:

    If Clinton was the First Black Presient then Lincoln was the first Jewish one, by displacement.

  10. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Rick, dark joking aside, I saw “Lincoln” at my local multiplex here in Marietta, East Cobb, Georgia. (I’m caregiver of my very aged mother, an Angelena whose paternal side dates back here to colonial days). So on a rare occasion when somebody else deigned to be with my mom (once a fine surfer, BTW, from the 1930’s-’70s), I had release to see the Lincoln movie. Matinee. Weekday. Third week of local release. Now, I’m a straight WASP man from Laguna and Newport, and I’ve dwelt quite happlily in big and small places across the Lower 48, but this particular place, once the House District of Rep. Newt Gingrich, I’ll tell you is by far the most wrenchingly homogeneous, uniform and xenophobic place I’ve seen.

    So anyway I bought the ticket to the show and the ticket-taker doomed me down a long hall to the appointed door. Two elderly ladies loomed in my way, the halt leading the halt. They too, with evident difficulty, were finding their way, rereading their stubs and mumbling in mutual disgruntlement e.g. “no, not Door Eight, it says Door Nine”, etc. Those two ladies in their Seventies, bless them, hadn’t collectively the physical capacity of a single 30-year-old.

    So I asked which door, which film, they sought. At first those two black women were irked by this further intrusion by a white guy wearing a blazer, but they acquiesced, saying, “Lincoln”. “So am I,” sez I, “let’s go in together”. OK. So we took our seats, the three of us in a row.

    At least three points during the film those two ladies flat cried, trying not to disturb the other animals. I mean, by the third reel they’d got out the handkerchiefs (having turned away mine politely), and when the credits had rolled and the lights come up, there we three were, new friends. They were lifelong friends, it turned out, fairly prosperous women both, who’d braved the White Belt (Fulton Cobb counties) to catch the flick as nearest the crow flies. And what hit me about it was that afterward, en route to their car, they were so quizzical as to why I’d happened myself to cry once during the movie.

    What will stick with me like a bad burrito is their surprise at anything offscreen. Those women just didn’t expect what to Hollywood, and to me, is due decency, and frankly I was and am aghast. And man, I’ve been stuck here for years! Now, if Spielberg’s company have made something that good then I’m all for it. That movie’s not the Markan Gospel for me or anything, but I am hosting two guests tomorrow for a reviewing of it. Verdad.

    You know that scene in which Day-Lewis, as Lincoln, is pondering, as though mesmerized, the swaying of his suspended pocket watch symbolizing the 13th Amendment? Well, that film prop actually was Lincoln’s watch, borrowed for the filming. I don’t care about such talismans of The Method; rather, am just saying that you’re right: Past is Present. So much work still to do, and much music still to play~~~

  11. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Oh, also, clearly I find it ludicrous, if funny, that anybody should pronounce a white Arkansan an honorary African heir of American slaves. It’s no more silly than the notion of Father Abraham L. leading His people, yet that one’s a real kneeslapper all by itself. Look, our country’s as much a joke as a deadly serious reality. The gallows humor of it all began with the second Congressional Congress and by rights continues to this day. Lighten up. Tell the Pesident to lose the starch as well as the TelePrompter. He’s better that way, yunno. If you need to read a speech it’s OK to be seen referring to the sheets of the actual damn speech. Especially when one’s electoral career is finished. But that poor man never can afford to relax, for the rest of his life. One word out of place, could bring down how unutterably fictive he’s been. Nobody with any traction has yet had the balls simply to ask who is this guy, and who was he before? That’s snakeyes with pure Cowardice or worse.

  12. Gordon says:

    Obama … begins his second term with …. no threat of scandal.

    True enough if by that you mean only faux scandals whipped up by Fox News et al.

    But that is to omit the real scandals that the MSM somehow doesn’t see – like, for example, the collapse of the rule of law. This has been sliding for some time but Obama has endorsed its eclipse. The whole financial crisis didn’t happen just because some banks were foolish (although they were). It took serious and prolonged criminality for things to get so bad yet the perps have been allowed to get away with it.

    FDR won massive support for the New Deal when the Pecora Commission unearthed just how much criminality had been behind the 1929 crash. In contrast Obama seems determined to restore the status quo and is willing to sweep anything under the carpet that might threaten that plan.

    Presiding over kleptocracy – now that is a scandal.

  13. JTMcPhee says:

    Gordon, this little griper thoroughly agrees with your comment. But you have to remember what the Kleptocrats have figures out. The rest of us NEED to BEEELEEEEEEVE that there’s rules and limits and Wise Government Enforcers out there patrolling the marches (the old medieval definition) to keep the brigands from the gates. They rightly and profitably treat us as “freiers” of the first order. http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day/word-of-the-day-freier.premium-1.493882

    Touching faith, actually, even from people who happily speed on the hiway and cheat a bit on their tax returns and build those home additions without benefit of permits, et cetera. There’s a need, too, for a certain amount of “slack” in the system, to keep the gears from galling and welding themselves into immobility. To continue the metaphor, bribery and corruption might e a necessary lubricant, up to a point…

    But along with that NEEEEED goes the ability of cynical greedheads to, you know, write the law, and say what the law is, and staff the prosecutorial and enforcement structures with people friendly, shall we say, to their interests.

    len subscribes to a structure where Solonic Right Results will somehow appear from a Gathering of Wise Stakeholders with, what did he call them, “people in the administration who have the will and the capacity to make good law.” Which if I read his point correctly, is about protecting HIS interests by getting “good law” from those “people in the administration.” From my jaundiced observation, there is no such animal. Everything is for sale or for shoplifting in the Bazaar, and as wage slaves have learned over many iterations, if you do not organize, if you do not speak from a position of power (even if it is only the ultimate power, the power to destroy and dis-organize the other side’s strengths), there is no freakin’ chance of “making good law.” “Law” being a lot more than,, e.g., Fentex seems to appreciate. “Law” being what “government” and people under government do, in matters of conflict and behavior and intent, every moment of every day. Whatever is written, all of which provides “rules of decision” that support every argument on any side that every litigant and special pleader care to make. http://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2200&context=llr It’s just about who wins the scrum, all’s fair…

    Current estimate of the notional number of counterfeit “dollars” in circulation, under all those “derivative contracts,” and a whole lot of other “legal” stuff. Number of prosecutions of Wall Streeters, etc., close to zero. Same for the hundreds of billions taken by fraud and stealth out of the “budget’ of the War Department. Same for non- or under-payment of royalties and leaseholds of oil and gas and rock and timber, out of the Commons. Same for most of the “illegal” emissions and discharges from air and water-polluting plants, and for violations of rules on disposal of hazardous waste. Et cetera.

  14. len says:

    If law is off the table, then I’m headed out to get a much better assault rifle high capacity clips.

    Does anyone quite get two points: Fen is sitting in New Zealand where his government ensconces Kim Dotcom and the paranoia feeding frenzy roots in commentary such as we swill in? I don’t think we need Solon; we need some sense of responsible government and yes, we only get that when both we and they stop planning for the apocaclypse and get to work on tomorrow’s problems today.

    The Peanut Gallery is running the front channel and the back channels are running amok.

  15. Rick Turner says:

    Len, the problem is that a lot of tomorrow’s problems happened yesterday and too many of our fearless leaders still don’t see them.

  16. JTMcPhee says:

    “Law” isn’t “off the table,” of course, on account of that need for legitimacy or the appearance thereof. “Law” is still the way a lot of things get done. I just personally bridle at the notion that there is some Ideal of Justice, particularized or distributed, that gets embodied in words in a statute and regulations and standards and the rest, whether the process involves what one stakeholder deems a “right result,” to be produced by recourse to people with the power to write the rules, or ratify what stakeholders have written, to become “the law.”

    Life goes along, steadily and, faster or slower, getting worser for the Mob, which grumbles but hunkers down and takes up the new burden, until some perturbation, an “incident” like a food cart operator burning himself to death, or some slogan, or some last camel’s-back “rule” lands on top of the pile, and then that other thing happens, the one you are discussing seeming to me to be one expression of (liberty versus license, as it were), that from the standpoint of the Content Creator (not, of course, the mythical “jobs creators” who have their own interests to advance) is Wrong. There’s no common guaranteed path to Rightness, which from what I read in philosophy and history is the same kind of awful chimaera as “Hope.” We are given the tools, now, to govern ourselves by plebiscite if we care to reconstitute ourselves that way. Wonder why that is not more at the center of debate? Maybe because everyone who seeks “Right”ness has at heart the knowledge that the hierarchical structure provides more opportunity to protect and advance their interests? And so often, as with Prohibition, Rightness and Good Intent do not fit well with the real nature of humankind? How does one write a “rule of the least bad alternative,” out of all the trillions of interactions and all the chaos and jostling and from my most recent reading, the behaviors of the Huns in their 1914 sweep across Belgium and France and all that is still in motion from that exercise?

    Dick Cheney took the stakeholders into that room you mention, in the first part of Bushmania, and came out with an “energy policy” that affects every one of us who are not profiteers from the combustion processes. “people in the administration who have the will and the capacity to make good law…”

    Just listened to MLK’s speech from April 4, 1967, exactly a year before he was murdered, a time when I was learning to shoot and take orders and march in precise ranks swinging my hands 9″ to the front, 6″ to the rear, a speech, a sermon, given there at the Ebeneezer Baptist Church. http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_beyond_vietnam/ A rousing call to thought and action. A great, worthy shout of disappointment at How Things Just Go Along. And here “we” are, torturing and droning and invading and doing profitable imperial hegemonism behind a fake screen of Exceptional Democracy Spreading. How much of the prescription has been implemented? And gee, why not?

  17. len says:

    @Rick Turner

    I know, Rick. Image management is more important than sacrifice and reality. The entertainment I’ve just watched at the innauguration said it all: a polished image and a perfect tone are more important than truth to power and acts to wrongs. This is the small but significant hole in the Obama administration: image is more important than acknowledging those who really have sacrificed to make the world a better place.

    Beyonce? Great voice. Clarkson? Well-kept songbird. Great performances. Give me Natalie Maines. She stood up. She stood out. She paid the price for freedom. Unless they wise up in the West Wing, don’t expect much change.

  18. len says:

    Dick Cheney took the stakeholders into that room you mention, in the first part of Bushmania, and came out with an “energy policy”

    He left the press out so he left the people out. Case closed.

    I know how laws are made and standards are created. Unless the stakeholders are there, they aren’t recognized. There is a danger in stereotyping and overgeneralizing; unless the negotiation sticks to the issue at hand, you boil the ocean and that always fails.

  19. Rick Turner says:

    I’d have gone with Ry Cooder and David Lindley for the entertainment. Ry could do “Vigilante Man” and David could do “National Holiday”… Or maybe bring in Dylan for “Masters of War”. Couldn’t bring in a Canuck…Bruce Cockburn for “Rocket Launcher”…too bad… Maybe Buffy St. Marie for “Universal Soldier”? Jackson Browne’s version of “Crow on the Cradle” might be good, too. Come to think of it, we could program one hell of a song list for the Beltway Insiders to listen to.

  20. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Still, Rick, the music was the best part. &USMC Band ain’t too shabby…

    JTM, your jurisprudence mirrors that of O.W. Holmes, and neither is that too shabby. At the end, we Yanks tend to do what works, so we might as well be up front and real about it. Anti-Holmesians complain that this too severe, grim and bloodless. On the other hand the Pragmatic–authentically American–School of Philosophy notionally and historically sets baselines beyond which to measure collective progress toward our ideals. JFK was the last presidential proponent of that specific school of thought. My only problem with Pragmatism is its metaphysical speculation that something called [collective and unstoppable] Progress can substitute for a Deity, an organizational principle, a compass needle. Humans need a transcendent, not a manufactured, bullseye; a North Star, not a paper Moon. Kennedy–ironically Cromwellian in this way–showed a way to be as hard bitten and hardscrabble as Politics demands and still bend one’s knee, whereas the founding Pragmatists came together largely over their shared loss of religio ([Lat.] glue). Still, Holmes is my choice of longhaired Rock God.

    The shoddiest parts of the Innaugural Ceremony were its brackets, the Invocation and the Benediction. Twin holes in a big balloon~~~

  21. JTMcPhee says:

    @Hugo St. Victor
    Reading Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August.” Re Transcendants, seems to me the limbic system can accommodate a pretty horrific bunch of them, like the ones that Herder/Fichte/Nietzsche/Hegel came up with. Or our own crops of jingoists and neo-whatevers.

    Stupid me, for still looking for some evidence that there’s a Strange Attractor that draws all to it, eventually, however horrifically “we” perturb things in favor of our personal Affinity Groups and in pursuit of satiation of our pleasure centers… Cursed with the ability to invent or perceive the Ideal of the Transcendent, but the inability to detect the direction one ought to travel,let alone the path one ought to take.

  22. Hugo St. Victor says:

    Apparently you’re aware that Tuchman’s “Guns of August” was an historical phenomenon in itself. Theodore Roosevelt may have complained of journalistic rakers of muck, but our generation tends to counter by embracing disturbers of shit. In fact I reckon most of us at Jon’s table are congenital shit disturbers. Well, in Historiography, Tuchman was one of us. More ways than we should count now. As that beautifully made book of hers shot up the pop charts the boffins kept nipping at her skirts and her ankles–a clearly concerted, sexist, ad hominem attack–when what really bugged them, aside from her perceived humiliation of the Credentialist guild of pofessional historians, was her very thesis: that masculine hubris has become our existential threat. The book’s meant a lot to me over the years, so I hope it’ll move you similarly.

    You’re right. I hadn’t actually realized it but my fascination with presidential inaugurations is prompted by Media boilerplate to the effect that we are witnesses of History. This sound-bullet explodes my Dealey into a thousand points of historiography, e.g. (of course) What the hell is History? Where does it live, what does it eat for breakfast and who feeds it? How does a sovereign democratic citizen get relegated to the status of mere witness or observer of this beast? So, yes, Tuchman does impinge because on Innauguration Day we’re really dragging with President Washington’s silk stockings, begging the question every four years: What now is our Theory of History?

    The late Lewis Spitz, an historian of the Reformation period, told me, “There is no such thing as ‘Theory of History’; there is only theology of history”. As the man was not only drunk but dying at the time, I’m afraid I pressed him, because this was the culmination of my tutorial with him and because it eerily intersected almost simultaneously with similar whisperings to me by other scholars from other fields. It’s disgusting to recall now how furtive this line of thought was extended, person to person, but Positivism was on the march then and tenured chairs and graduate billets were at Stake. The point is that collective human Progress, or inevitable anthropological evolution, is a metaphysical speculation that’s endlessly testable and manifestly invalid. The Human Science of self-bulshitting.

    Now, I myself am a proto-Christian of the Kierkegaardian schtick, and every one of my friends has been either a thoughtful skeptic or an unapologetically devout Breaststroker. I’ve known a few hardcore atheists, though, and have taken pains to try to defend them in court whenever they’re forced to stand for own convictions. I can’t speak for Michael Stipe but you could say that “losing” one’s “religion” is almost a rite of passage among educated persons in the West, and I’ll tell you that many of the people I’ve known who strike me as most quintessentially Jewish or Christian have been believers who felt they’d lost their faith during U.S. military service or as a result of the Holocaust and the attendant mass killings of Gentiles. We’d have to be a nation of amnesiacs not to expect our own government to orchestrate an Innaugural that takes into account the laws of bloody gravity that turn the world’s eyes to Capitol Hill once every four years.

    It’s the report card of our civil religion. How civil? How religious? How uncivil? How irreligious?

  23. Hugo St. Victor says:

    and as for David Brooks, look: It’s beyond the pale ever to kick someone when he or she is down. Otherwise kickboxing and politics are synonymous. That any would jest in proposition that we transgress, by stomping democracy into lasting monocracy, should be ruled by self-described “liberals” strictly out of bounds. David Brooks is persona non grata. How fucking low can he get?

  24. Rick Turner says:

    What would Rush do?

  25. Hugo St. Victor says:

    …probably he’d do still worse, though I don’t get any sense of his wanting a winner-takes-all one -party system. Something like Canada’s or Israel’s versions of parliamentary structure would be preferable to fixed monocracy. In any case the pairing of Brooks with Limbaugh is apples & artichokes, as Limbaugh is an avowed entertainer, not a journalist. I wish that more pundits would adopt such an honest stance, as most have abandoned dispassionate journalism and some are, variously, whores, streetwalkers or high-priced call girls. Even Lipmann was up for bid at the end. If you haven’t a string book, a videography or portfolio then you’ve nothing to sell, when you sell out the Fourth Estate to indulge in your ideology or your fun money, or both. What Brooks and others have done, recently, should transcend the context of political parties. I’d despise his transgression just as much were he a conservative or a happenstantial Republican going about the daily work of American journalism. I’ve still got both my nostrils, Rick, and it stinks either way when anybody bolts the Press for the Party. And further to bolt for Monocracy is something akin to Treason.

  26. Hugo St. Victor says:

    We’re all liberals. Those whom you guys liken to the “Know Nothings” of old really do abound, I agree, though the few similarities frankly flatter the forebears. What our “Know Nothings” know not is that our broader, thematic national debate really is an argument over comeliest shape of American Liberalism. A frightening plurality of citizens who describe themselves to Gallup as “conservative” construe that label as anti-liberalism. A negative definition is no definition at all. And that’s what makes them Know Nothings. Even Tojo’s and Hitler’s minions fought FOR something. Even Stalin and Mao had their 10-point plans. And even Leo Stauss and Bill Buckley, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan bothered to propose an alternate future course.

    The very impulse so to propose is the liberal impulse in itself. It’s the essence of any modern nation state, the leopard’s spots. The Know Nothings should know that there’s no global fund for national tattoo removal, and that you can’t do other than sway the choice and cost and timing of America’s next liberal tattoo because that’s what our body politic was made for: Liberalism’s canvas. This fact has nothing to do with the fate of any particular political party.

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