In a couple of days I plan to answer part of my own question, What is to be Done?, and since the Republican Party figures prominently in that answer, I felt it important that I clarify some rather broad-sweeping comments about the GOP which I should have applied more narrowly. I do this in part, out of common courtesy, for I hate offending innocent bystanders. It is never a good thing to paint any group of people too broadly (Rush Limbaugh does this every time he uses the word “liberal”… as I used to be one, but was never any of things he associates with being liberal), thus making enemies where possible allies can be found. I also do this because of some back channel email chatter unhappy with my butt cheeks comment. (I couldn’t resist.)
The truth is, and we all know it, the majority of rank and file Republican Party members are on our side, and not on the side of accommodating Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Mr Obama, or the Democrat Left. Agreed? They may not see the threat to the depths we do, but the film is slowly being lifted from their eyes. Better they see fully, and act now, before it is too late. Time matters. Since people don’t listen to people they hate, we have to keep it nice.
Already they are not so happy with management. I haven’t a clue what the GOP revenue stream is right now, but it has to be down. If they would open up what we call targeted fund sites (which I’ll mention later on) I expect those numbers could lunge upward very quickly. But people no longer are willing to pay for a fight that always turns out to be a patty-cake. Not these days. Even a lot of middle-of-road Republicans, who we may mistakenly call RINO’s, are beginning to realize the dimensions of this battle may be much, much deeper than they had imagined. To the extent there is time, I say give ’em time…with my apologies for having unfairly equated them with Casper Milquetoast, the original, or any of a number of his facsimiles hanging around in the halls of Congress now.
Even inside the Republican Party apparatus, among the apparatchiks, a strong plurality, all still proud to call themselves Republicans, are beating their heads against the wall, in frustration, anger and bewilderment about some congressional Republicans, and the RNC’s willingness to fight the Dem’s except on certain narrow terms, while never, never, never drawing a line in the sand on anything that might break up that sweet sense of comity that has existed only on the Republican side of the aisle for the longest time, replaced by an acrid odor of ridicule on the other. But rice bowl trumps all other things, and unless their bosses will authorize the lighting of the fires, they have to hunker down. Be charitable because they cannot say out loud what they know in their hearts.
Inside the two Republican congressional camps it must be even more dispiriting. In the 1850s the GOP was built on a single line in the sand that carried with it a birthright I’d love to know how, when and where, was sold to the Democrat Party for a bowl of soup. (Bad analogy, actually.) Now the Dem’s claim ownership of almost every Republican (and American) virtue, while accusing the GOP of their own conspiracies, almost as if they knew what the GOP would say next…all without so much as a peep from the rightful owners of these virtues.
No one has stepped back over that line to reclaim them. It’s honest questions, then: Is the GOP actually on the same page as the Dem’s? I doubt it. Or have they, inside their own party, going back fifty years, to Ike, just been slowly acculturated into a sober, congenial gentility, that had become almost snoozy in its predictability? As a pickpocket in Piccadilly might say, have they all become marks, without really knowing it?.
Something just ain’t right….only the Dem’s saw it long before we did…a house of lords, boozy and asleep with their wallets dangling from their trousers, assuming, being among gentlemen, they were safe…then, once realizing their purses had been lifted, they had to blame first the staff, then interlopers, but never, never their fellow colleagues and peers….until finnally they began to realize that perhaps some of their colleagues, as yet unnamed, might be thieves…only to say so would mean they had to admit they had been asleep in the first place. What to do? What to do? This is really how the KGB did it, recruiting English public schools boys in the 30’s (Philby and that bunch) then in the 60’s, turning to the spoiled rich American kids. They knew they could get them all to work for them for awhile, some forever. But those who finally “woke up”…well, they had secured an asset just as valuable as their treason; they had secured their silence forever. Vanity. This is why people like Horowitz and Whitaker Chambers are so important to us. They came out and owned up.
And how I feel for poor Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn. And Erick Erickson, who has been much more refined than me at hammering Mitch McConnell, poor ol’ Mitch, poor ol’ Mitch, while leaving the bulk of the party untouched by his barbs. That is the wiser course, I think. If I were in DeMint’s shoes I would already have thrown myself on my sword, giving not only the Dems’, but the rest of my party the skunk eye (of anathema) and by now would look like a homeless stray dog, caught in a rainstorm, huddled under the eave of some stranger’s shed. I would have done this because 1) I think it would cause the sort of buzz that would generate an even greater amount of indignation in the Congress, press coverage even the MSNBC couldn’t shrug off, and 2) I have done it before. Steve McQueen once said you haven’t played the game until you have played for more than you can afford to lose. I have, so I know how it feels.
I can’t really say that this is a wise course for Sen DeMint or any other, however. it’s just me. But it sure would jump start a revolt. In dire times, you risk things in better times you’d like to hold onto, like friends.
But over twenty years ago I decided there were certain kinds of people I simply could not sit around a table with and make nice any longer. This is not a good tack to take in politics I’m sure. But I strike out against hypocrisy and poseurs, not real enemies who want to kill me. French, not Russians. Consorts, not whores. I have no problem with enemies. Some of my oldest friends are dyed-in-the-wool commie Marxists. Right up front we know; what they want to do is destroy me and what I want to do is destroy them. We sit, we talk, we grimace and clench our teeth, then looking around the room seeing there is no easy escape, and the police would come, and nothing would be settled anyway, since we are not kings fighting for a kingdom, just two old fools saying what we would do if we were king. So we sit back, pour one more vodka for the road, Nazdraviya!, and think, like a Cheyenne, “Today is not a good day to die.” It is a sensible way to hate, when there is honesty rather than pretension.
But for just a few moments we are kings. Second or third glass, I never can seem to remember. Just once I would like to see Harry Reid’s face, even from a distance, when he looks into the face of another man who also sees himself his better, a king. Then everything would change.
We speak of the culture of accommodation at the GOP, and wonder why it is that those who carry themselves, and our standard, as knights, are always kept one level away from staring into the eyes of the other leader, men like Reid.? We just can’t let Jim DeMint near Harry Reid. “Why, that will set the Party, and civilization back by fifty years.” (Be still my beating heart.)
I was discussing this recently with a local political flack, and asked him how he comport himself with a man who was trying to kill him. He replied, (rightfully I might add) that I was being a little excessive with the hyperbole. So I rephrased it, “How could you sit quietly by and discuss things with a man who is trying to destroy everything you have grown to know as noble and virtuous, every shred of moral values you have? Your nation, and all it nearly stands for? The rights of man to pursue life, liberty, happiness? How could you discuss things calmly with this man when he has the power to destroy those things, and has indicated in every way possible that he has the present intention to doing it? Most of all, how can you look him in the eye and pretend you don’t really know these things are so?”
Gotcha. My friend was convinced I has asked a more precise question, which I assumed he could not answer effectively, so he retreated to the standard fallback line, “Well, it would just be bad manners.”
There you have it.
My question to Senator DeMint, and his colleagues, since they cannot look Harry Reid in the eye, and let all the air out of the room, is: How can you sit and discuss calmly with a man who does look Harry Reid in the eye (well, sort of) and allows Harry Reid to take away from you, and your constituents all these valuable things?
Is it really manners and decorum?
If so, then consider this. Any cultural anthropologist will tell you that the notion of “good manners” has evolved in every society known to man as a survival mechanism. From the out-stretched hand of salute, to “Sir”, “M’am”, to “Please” and “Thank you” to Robert’s Rules of Order, these have always been seen as “survival enhancing” attributes of a society.
So, what happens when they become “survival-endangering” tools? “That can’t be”, some say, and perhaps Mitch might be quickest say this. It is, after all, the current definition of the Republican Party now that it has abdicated all those higher things over to the bargaining table, leaving only decorum o the table. What a curious thing, really, if you took all the things you most hold high, and laid them out on a table, then one-by-one removed them until the most important single one was left…and it turned out to be your polite nature. Mitch’s mentor, John Sherman Cooper, who my father knew and idolized, could never have imagined that he would some day look across the aisle in the United States Senate and see Nikita Kruschchev in a blue pinstripe. No Nikita, to be Nikita he had to have his shoe out on the desk, beating it, Tsk, Tsk. Such barbarians.
Think again. In the 1960s, with the rise of the radical Left, one of the things that was constantly under assault was our own sense of good manners. The contrasts could be seen in every protest, Chicago ’68 especially revealing. Ask Horowitz. The feeling then was that they were simply trying to coarsen our manners, with which I even agreed back then. “Steady the line, gentlemen, steady the line.”
But now I believe they attacked us there because they knew it was our weakest line of defense. Indeed, through the McGovern fiasco, the crescendo built up. Only we won, or so we thought, so no need to do an after-action on what seemed like a failed “policy”. Still, through the 70’s and 80s, the pounding continued. Remember Nader’s Raiders breaking up congressional hearings? Thirty years later, Hillary Clinton still can’t get rid of that shrill, nails across the blackboard training she’d received in those good days of her youth. I’ve seen the eyes of bronze horses in the park bleed under one of her drones.
In the 1992 campaign, more refined, less shrill, but still a target of Mr Clinton (ol’ Bushel Britches, as Moses called him) was “Mr” Bush’s sense of decorum. And Clinton won…and a million of us out here, aware of the game that was being played, screamed, “Fight back, fight back”. But he didn’t. Wouldn’t be seemly. And finally, George W Bush, whose faith required him ultimately to deny his oath, by turning the other cheek, when it was ours being slapped.
Indeed, it does seem that for one side the rules of playing the game have now superseded the game itself, at a critical time when the other side has elevated the game itself from “Tit for Tat to “Winner Take All”. Bad timing, Ol’ Chap, better luck next time. Stiff upper lip…when it ain’t bleeding.
You all know the story about John Kerry and his semi-beautiful wife, Teresa, on their way to the Harvard-Yale football game, when a young Southie confronted them, and asked where the game was at. Sen Kerry, looking down that long nose of disdain, told the young rascal that he didn’t speak to people who ended their sentences in a preposition….to which the whippersnapper replied, “Oh, sorry, where’s the game at, ahole.” (drum roll)
To my mind, Sir, Please, Ma’m (Barbara Boxer won’t even accept that now), and the ever popular, “Mr dear friend, Sen Reid” have all become ways to end a sentence while disguising an unwanted feeling in the pit of the stomach, as if it were an unsightly, ignorant preposition…that even now, we still don’t get it.
The rules of decorum were never designed to assist in one’s own self-destruction (and that’s what it is, Mitch, ours, if not yours, as there will always be a place at the Great Hall dining table for Number 2’s ), either physically, morally or spiritually. When the “ideal” of manners becomes so culturally ingrained as to be “survival endandering” it needs to be rethought and repriortized. And leadership has to passed over.
So, what happens when we coarsen ourselves in that manner? you ask. Once the cat’s out of the bag, can we suddenly get hard as nails, then, once the fight is over ever return to what we once were; nice, cordial, polite people.
Well, actually, yes. The sky determines, as they say out west.
Moses Sands had an answer, which he told me many years ago, while sitting on a rocky outcrop overlooking the llano estacado in the Texas panhandle. The topic was Iraq, not politics. He asked if I’d ever wondered what the difference was between the Texas Rangers and the men they were sent out to hunt, and often hang on the spot? He said as a rule, the Rangers were just as illiterate, just as mean, and just as boisterous when drunk as the men they captured or killed. What just law in God’s universe would allow that one could have so much power over another. Your natural inclination would be to say “power”, raw power, and no real justice. But Moses answered by saying that at the end of the day, they knew to take their guns off and hang them on a bedpost, and at the end of a career, they knew to take them off for good. Every day they looked forward to it, in fact. They could do this while the bad guys couldn’t because they were invested in something larger than themselves. Moses called that “the House”. You can call it whatever you want, but it is all tied to the Constitution and freedom…and God. Good first drives out bad, then goes about re-civilizing itself. Bad never civilizes itself, as we all know, since the French have been trying now for nearly a thousand years.
For a sense of this, you may recall this film clip from Lonesome Dove. Being old, I’ve always kind of liked it.
The rule is simple, and irreversible, Senator McConnell; when things get harsh, it requires a firmer, more harsh hand to deal with it. We didn’t make things harsh, but we did let things get that way. Now it’s time to fix them.
So, move aside.