Monday, April 27, 2009

Another wackading county heard from

The NYC subway doesn't take tokens anymore, but the Times does, and its latest, Russ Douthat (fill in the puns yourselves... it's too easy), launches his argosy to nowhere in memorable fashion in tomorrow's edition. He whimsically fantasizes a Dick Cheney campaign for the presidency in '08, claiming that it would have teased out the issue of torture in a serious way in the public forum.

Let me get this straight. Put aside the likelihood that even the lukewarm puddle that is the present-day Republican Party would reward the most hated political figure in modern times with their nomination. Grant that they had that much of a death wish. But just imagine the campaign that ensues. Post-Sept. 15, the global economy is imploding. Barack Obama is addressing this, the only issue that matters (and however fecklessly, he is holding the only card that matters -- the "(D)" after his name). Meanwhile, Dick Cheney is out there... bringing up torture!? Plunking for it?? The American public would have listened for more than 30 seconds to that? Somebody would not have taken him away in a straightjacket?

I didn't think the GOP could get any deader. This "permanent governing majority" is beyond Monty Python. It's an ex-zombie.


David Berger said...

With all due respect, I think you're missing the point of what Douthat is arguing. He's essentially using Cheney as a straw man to suggest that what currently passes as Republican party thinking needed a national airing, so it could be thoroughly rejected in order for the party's reinvention could commence. As Douthat said, that is:

"...a conservatism of supply-side economics and stress positions, uninterested in social policy and dismissive of libertarian qualms about the national-security state. And Dick Cheney happens to be its diamond-hard distillation."

Republican are still convinced that if they upheld those positions, the country would (and will) reward them. In that thinking, McCain was a hugely imperfect messenger. The post-September 15 events still fall under Douthat's construct.

I thought it a valuable piece, because it exposes how profoundly (and ridiculously) off-track Republicans are today. I suspect in future columns, he'll begin outlining the track they SHOULD be on (and having read Douthat for many years, I think he'll do a persuasive job of it.)

Falstaff said...

I know the point he means to make... :) -- and I entirely agree with that rather limited point (that the Republicans -- aka, the "conservative movement" -- are deeply goofy). But in the creation of this far-fetched hyptothetical (or straw man), I find a deeper confusion, an untetheredness of thinking. Or, to put it a bit more generously, I think this supposedly clarifying what-if raises far more questions than it illuminates, and about its author's understanding of the political reality today.

In other words, the trope feels to me like a failed attempt to be clever and provocative, to get people to read it because of its headline (and then, of course, to pretend you didn't really mean that, you were just doing a thought experiment)... like a rather desperate grasping-at-column-writing straws. My point was -- perhaps not clearly enough expressed -- that the entire notion of NEEDING to show that the goofy Republicans are, indeed, goofy is profoundly out of touch.

But, then, I haven't been reading him over the past few years, as you have, so I'll wait and see what ensues in the weeks to come.