Thursday, November 08, 2012

It's hard to be gracious after this particular defeat


Four years ago, I was a good sport:

I am in no mood to be a good sport this time. After one of the most cynically divisive, demagogic and dishonest campaigns in history, our newly re-elected president tweeted last night, "We're all in this together. That's how we campaigned, and that's who we are. Thank you.--bo."

I trust that he is not delusional. I cannot, therefore, believe that the cynicism- to say nothing of the hypocrisy-of that statement is other than intentional. That speaks ill of a man a I once respected, even though I disagreed with him, and bodes ill for the country as well.

In the past several months, I've lost all respect for Barack Obama. And that's sad, because there's a great deal about the man that's attractive: his intellect, his charm, his eloquence, and the fact that he really was in a position to be a healer if he had been in fact the moderate and post-partisan his rhetoric and the media always insisted he was. But alas, what he was at heart was a disciple of Saul Alinsky, and Alinksy might as well have been his campaign manager this time out. The truth was secondary, if not tertiary; he said whatever his agenda needed to be said, with little if any regard for the truth. He misreprented his record, he misrepresented his opponent's record, he misrepresented his opponent's positions, and he misrepresented whatever else was inconvenient to the cause of his re-election..

And no, Mitt Romney was no paragon in that area either. If he were a Lutheran rather than a Mormon, his record might well be characterized, as the late Rev. Richard Neuhaus once characterized the theological stance of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, as "Here I stand. And here. And here. And here..." I personally believe that Gov. Romney's conversion on issues like abortion was sincere. But when you can be quoted as holding virtually any possible position on virtually any issue, it facilitates the kind of campaign the president ran against him.

Back in 2008, long-time readers of this blog will remember, I spent virtually the entire run-up to the Iowa Caucuses attacking Romney for using exactly the same kind of tactics against Mike Huckabee and later John McCain that the president used against him this time. Romney was a flawed candidate who also misrepresented his opponent. The trouble was that he was the least flawed candidate available, with the possible exception of Tim Pawlenty, whose niceness would have probably made him unable to stand up as well as Romney did to the Obama campaign's dishonesty. Make no mistake; Mitt Romney was "swiftboated" in a way John Kerry was not (the 2004 attacks from his fellow swiftboat veterans against Kerry originated from them, not from the Bush campaign). But he made it awfully easy.

Unlike the president, Obama aide Robert Gibbs- who last night repeated his absurd assertion that the president's re-election would compel Republicans to be less partisan and enable an end to the gridlock which has paralyzed this country- almost certainly is delusional. While I agree that on certain issues- chiefly avoiding the "financial cliff" next January- Republicans will either cooperate with Mr. Obama or earn the contempt of the nation and the condemnation of history (the same being true of the president), the kind of campaign Mr. Obama ran does not inspire warm fuzzies. I am not saying this out of pique, and I hope I'm wrong- as long-time readers of this blog will be aware, I was more sympathetic to the president's position on some aspects of the debt-ceiling crisis than to that of most Republicans- but you can't run the kind of campaign the president ran and expect hard feelings to be diminished.

I recently quoted a commentator whose identity I forget who said a year or so ago that given his record the only way President Obama could be re-elected would be to run a campaign so nasty and negative that it would be impossible for him to govern in his second term. And that, in a nutshell, is what has happened. Mr. Obama may have gained a second term by insisting in essence that Mitt Romney is an evil man- which he is demonstrably not. But in doing so he doomed any chance he had of going down in history as anything other than a very eloquent and charismatic footnote. Like John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama will always be all style and no substance. He will be remembered as a president who inspired, but not as one who achieved. To date his only major accomplishment is an unpopular government take-over of health care that is almost certain to prove a disaster. He will accomplish little more in his second term

Now, as I think I showed four years ago, I can be gracious about losing an election. After all, after nearly sixty years as a political junkie, I've had lots of practice. But it wasn't just an election we lost on Tuesday. I think November 6,  2012 might well go down in history as the day America's decline as a culture and as a society became irreversible.

Tuesday, for the first time in history, voters rather than politically correct judges or, in a few cases, radical legislators legalized same-sex "marriage" in two states. Given the nature of male homosexual behavior, an unforeseen consequence is that adultery is about to be mainstreamed in Maine and Maryland.  Since lesbians have a divorce rate in, say, Denmark 167%  higher than that of heterosexuals (in fact, one of those much-touted studies claiming that no damage occurs to children raised by gay couples inserted the qualification that the instability of lesbian relationships multiplied the odds of kids being raised in a broken home), it's hard to make a case that the already-beleagered institution of marriage won't be damaged by same-sex "marriage." The only saving grace is that so few gays and lesbians get married in juristictions where they can- the fact is that there is no particular demand for "marriage" as such among same-sex couples, but only for the social acceptability its availability grants their sexual behavior in principle- that divorce statistics won't rise much.

Here in Iowa, Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins- who, like three collegues turned out of office by the voters two years ago, voted to legalize same-sex "marriage" by judicial fiat- was retained by about the same margin that the other three were dismissed. It's hard to miss the point that a corner has been turned in the past four years, and as we keep being told by the Left, you can't turn back the clock.

Tuesday was our only chance to prevent Mr. Obama from naming up to four Supreme Court justices in the next four years, and both decisively and probably irreversibly  turning the Court into a radical and unelected standing constitutional convention which will not only effectively declare the Tenth Amendment unconstitutional, but make the social wish-list of the far Left the law of the land. Not only does last night's result right finis to any chance of modification, much less reversal, of  Roe v. Wade- a decision the polls have always said was popular, but  whose radical scope is largely unknown to a public whose own position on abortion as reflected in those same polls is actually far to its right- but it probably makes a Supreme Court decision enshrining a "constitutional right" to same-sex "marriage" inevitable.

To sum up, the chief significance of the election of 2012 it might well that it has made it clear that the battle to save our culture is already lost. While I am confident that there's still time before a second Obama administration radicalizes the Court for those aspects of administration policy which violate the First Amendment rights of churches and religious organizations to refuse to pay for health insurance for procedures which conflict with their beliefs to be struck down, a nation which can re-elect Barack Obama at a time when unemployment is at 7.9% and on the basis of such an undistinguished and often embarrassing first term has passed the point, humanly speaking, where it can be called back to ethical- much less economic- sanity. A nation which re-elects a failed president is displaying a self-destructive streak which has not chracterized America in the past. But then, in this Post-Modern age, perhaps it makes a certain amount of sense that the party which values emotion over reason should win an election it should, by all historical precident, have lost.

 If I read the culture right, it will probably be at least twenty years before things deteriorate to the point where, say, euthanasia or incest will become "constitutional rights," but I'm very much afraid that such a moment is now inevitable.

By the way, a shout-out to the Ron Paul folks who either boycotted the election or voted for Gary Johnson. You aren't numerous enough to have made a difference, but as the country continues to deterriorate, you're going to see your libertarian ideals become reality with a vengeance. And I don't think you're going to like that reality any more than you like reality in general. Whatever your ideology says, behavior which harms society as a whole  harms each of us personally. There are very few behaviors which can be relegated to the category of "not hurting anybody else."

Some. But then, conservatives generally stand for protecting liberty in those.

Barack Obama, who has made a political career of posing as two things which he is not- a moderate and a uniter- won his campaign by slander and character assassination. There is no way to put a better or more gracious face on that fact, despite Mitt Romney's commendable effort to do so in his concession speech. That, in itself, is to be regretted. But beyond that, I find myself doubting today that politics are an arena where issues which matter to social conservatives can, at this point, be constructively addressed.

I will address the other reasons why I'm pessimistic about social conservatism- and America- coming back from this disaster in a subsequent post. Suffice it for now to say that I find myself doubting whether my country and the culture in which I lived can be saved, or whether Pat Buchanan's insistence that America is in fact in terminal and irreversible decline might not be something other than the overheated rhetoric of an extremist, as I have always taken it to be.

Yes, it's possible to be gracious after losing an election. Not easy, if you believe strongly in the issues you and your candidate stood for, but possible. But it's a great deal harder to be gracious about the realization that your country may well have lost its soul as well as its mind.

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