Huston: The Death Wish of the ‘Stupid’ Party
(For the use of the membership only; not for publication, duplication or quotation.)
“We have two parties here, and only two. One is the evil party, and the other is the stupid party. I’m very proud to be a member of the stupid party. Occasionally, the two parties get together to do something that’s both evil and stupid. That’s called bipartisanship.” — the late M. Stanton Evans, the Indianapolis Star
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, it is not unreasonable to conclude from the latest demonstration of its death wish that the Republican political class is in large measure a disgusting group of whiners, thieves and butt-kissers. Clearly, nothing stirs the soul of a Republican of High Principle like claiming the moral high ground at the expense of other Republicans. Natural-born white-flag waivers, the high-minded Republicans self-organize as a surrender caucus. They make up the sissy brigades in the political battles of our time. From Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan on down, they should each be issued a candy-flavored pacifier and shipped off to Sun City to play in the sand.
Other than the hushed rebuke (tut-tut) of the guy who freshened his cigar in the private parts of a presidential intern, when was the last time you heard a Democrat attack another Democrat for an alleged failure of morals, lack of virtue or breach of democratic norms? Seventy-two percent of Democrats say they would support Hillary Clinton if she were indicted for the crime of endangering the national security. Most of them would vote for her if she had to hold Cabinet meetings in a cell at Rikers Island.
So long as the miscreant had not wandered irretrievably off the ideological reservation, there is no crime, no blunder, no scam, no outrage so egregious that any Democrat would utter an unkind word about another Democrat. There is nary a soul to the left of Jim Webb who is the least bit discomfited by the nomination of the chief operating officer of a massive criminal enterprise as the Democratic standard bearer. No Democrat gives a hoot that the Obama administration lied its way to the adoption of Obamacare and the sellout to Iran. Not a single Democrat was offended by the elevation to the Supreme Court of a self-professed “Wise Latina” for whom it was axiomatic that her ethnic heritage and experiential empathy would guide her judicial decision-making.
Republicans have a long record of turning on their own. When the political hack turned Republican leader of the Senate in a moment of sentimentality marking the 100th birthday of Strom Thurmond made an inartful and indiscrete statement about the 1948 presidential campaign, it was Jonah Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer and other virtue-signaling neoconservatives who demanded his scalp. It was his Republican colleagues who ran Bob Packwood out of the Senate, and the Republican hierarchy in the Senate who demanded the ouster of an aide to Rand Paul who in a previous life was a southern-radio shock jock. No Democrat ever demanded the ouster of a left-wing wacko on the Democratic side of the aisle or called for the resignation of Congressman Charles Rangel D-NY), a world class shyster, or Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the indicted ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
When the cigar connoisseur was impeached by the House of Representatives, the Democrats circled the wagons in his defense. It was all about sex, they argued; the implication being that a sexual predator in the White House (even a lying one) is no big deal. They are still making excuses for this poster child for the rape culture.
When the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was sacked and Ambassador Stevens and three others murdered in what the White House knew was an Islamic terrorist attack, Ambassador Rice and Secretary Clinton were sent forth to lie to the American people about the circumstances that led to the mayhem. What was important to Democrats was keeping the lid on the truth through election day, which, with the cooperation of the Democratic media, they were able to do. Since then Congressional Democrats have obstructed every investigation in search of the truth about what happened and why. Republicans mumble in protest and punch back feebly, but to no effect.
Notwithstanding deleted emails, smashed hard drives and perjured testimony, it is widely known that during the first years of the Obama administration the Internal Revenue Service targeted more than 400 Tea Party and other conservative organizations. Civil rights were flagrantly violated but not a single Democratic voice has been raised in protest against this abusive behavior. None of the Nixon-era protestations by Democrats about the totalitarian implications of an administration using the IRS to target its political enemies are heard on Capitol Hill or in the state media.
When the State Department admitted that the administration had lied about the status of negotiations with Iran, the video tape of that admission was altered to delete the incriminating evidence. When the deletion became public information, the White House response was, “Where’s Waldo?” There were no allegations of Nixonian shenanigans or howls about doctoring the public record from the Democratic cloak rooms or the Democratic-controlled media just as there were no expressions of moral indignation at the disclosure by the deputy national security advisor to the President that the administration had systematically deceived the press in the course of its secret negotiations with Iran in order to push through a nuclear deal that poses an existential threat to Israel.
What is remarkable about this record of excuses, obfuscations, evasions, lies and cover-ups by Democrats over the past quarter of a century is that no one expected anything different. There is a recognizable Democratic way of conducting political business which accounts for a century of political success, and there is a Republican way of doing political business that inevitably contributes to that Democratic success.
The Republican political class is what the mid-century sociologist David Riesman defined as “other-directed.” According to Riesman, “The other-directed person wants to be loved rather than esteemed.” Translated into political terms, the other-directed Republican politician takes his cues from the prevailing opinion formulators (which are uniformly left-leaning) and conforms his opinions to the prevailing orthodoxy (what we now call Political Correctness or PC) out of a desire not to be marginalized by the Matt Tullys of this world and to be accepted by what now passes for polite society (represented by the Chamber of Commerce legislative award luncheon).
It is important to note that there is a range of opinions that are acceptable under prevailing PC standards that a “conservative” Republican may safely hold. While the Social Justice Warriors will denounce those who prefer free-market options to the Keynesian model or argue for lower rather than higher marginal tax rates, it is not socially unacceptable to hold such views. On the other hand, no matter how enthusiastic one might be to address economic inequality through government-directed redistribution of wealth, it remains beyond the pale to hold any view on issues involving gender or race that is not approved by the faculty of Harvard College. Understanding this simple fact will illuminate the otherwise inexplicable contortions to which such a conservative figure as Gov. Mike Pence will resort in an effort to be loved (and, more importantly, reelected).
There are a multitude of reasons to be hostile to — or at least skeptical of — the nomination or election of Donald Trump, but what is central to both his support and his opposition is his resistance to the pull of Political Correctness. He is, in Riesman’s formulation, an inner-directed man. He is not the navigator in a dark sea who determines his course by reading the stars; he is the self-confident woodsman who marches off into the dark forest fully confident he can find his way in and, more importantly, his way out by his own sense of direction and good judgment. The inner-directed person is an individualist driven by aspiration and ambition. He is self-confident, occasionally impulsive, and inclined to rigidity once his mind is made up.
Not being dependent on others for validation of his judgments, Trump has the ability to see things as they are: He is not taken in by the emperor with no clothes. He understands, for example, that self-identity in terms of gender, class and race (or ethnicity) is the motive force in Progressive politics. He correctly sensed that Paul Ryan conservatism has betrayed the interests of the white working class and that the missteps of the Bush administration alienated the base of the Republican Party from its nominal leadership. Having no ties to the institutional conservative movement, he correctly sensed that its influence was far less powerful than its self-regard. Used to dealing with brick and mortar, he could see the vacant industrial buildings, the abandoned factories and the closed stores along Main Street and relate these sightings to the giant sucking sound of NAFTA and other trade deals pulling jobs out of Anderson and Peoria and Birmingham to Shanghai, Hanoi and the villages of Bangladesh.
No one is angrier at the fellow with clear vision than the naked emperor, and so it is not surprising that Trump is widely despised by the Republican political class. This class has demonstrated in its post-Reagan skirmishes with Democrats a cluelessness to the realities of political combat on a field where lines of battle are no longer drawn along the contours formed by the issues of 1980. It is for the most part oblivious to the challenges with which a new generation of political leadership must cope: issues such as the consequences of globalization, the social costs of the feminization of society, the squeezing of the middle class, the substitution of a new imported people for the historic American nation, and the simultaneous emergence of asymmetrical warfare by Islamic terrorists with worldwide reach and the revived imperial ambitions of hostile great powers armed with nuclear weapons.
What makes the Republican Party stupid is not, however, the limited imagination of its leadership or the refusal of its intellectual vanguard to pull its head out of the butt of history and look to the future. What makes the Republican Party stupid is its inability to reconcile a coherent ideological purpose for being which is relevant to the lives of Americans as they actually live those lives with the purpose for which political parties are formed, which is to win elections. In the end, it is as simple as that.
— Tom Charles Huston