Why Can’t We Be Friends?
September 5, 2008
If the McCain campaign wants to misappropriate Seventies-vintage songs for its two-month march to nowhere, I think War’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” would have been a much better choice than Heart’s “Barracuda.” They would have to sing it in a really whiny tone of voice, however, because whining about all the terrible political anger and nastiness in the air is apparently going to be the Republican Lie of the Month (RLOM).
Credit the winger aviary with this much — they know how to squawk on cue. From the caverns of National Review to the chambers of the New Jersey state legislature, these birds of a feather flap and screech with uncanny precision. Reading them, one might conclude they were all written from a single GOP-approved template. One would probably be right. In fact, you should try writing one yourself — it’s easy and fun!
For openers, start by establishing yourself as a moderate voice of reason, a Jimmy Stewart type who wants to stay out of all that mud-slinging and — shudder! — political extremism. Try some of this Yuval Levin on for size:
I have always tended to think that conservative complaints about the media are a little exaggerated. There are occasionally obvious instances of bias and clear examples of a double standard, but most reporters don’t want to fall into those and some conservatives are surely too sensitive to them. But this week has changed my view.
You’re not alone, Yuval! By a mysterious coincidence, the wonderfully named Garden State legislator Alison McHose is feeling your pain:
I know a lot of very liberal Democrats. As a member of the state Legislature in one of America’s bluest states, I work with them, fashion legislation together, and develop some close and lasting relationships.
I’m a conservative Republican — for small government, pro-life, and pro Second Amendment — and don’t mind doing battle with liberals on both sides of the aisle. Our back and forth, though at times testy, generally sticks to policy and rarely gets personal.
Levin is going on about the press while McHose is tottering to the fainting couch because of those mean ol’ political bloggers, but they’re both workin’ it like Alan Ladd in Shane or Audie Murphy in Destry, building to the moment when the evil deeds of the bad guys become too much to bear and they have to strap on the ol’ six-shooters.
Watch Levin as he tries to make ’em reach for the sky:
The reigning emotion of it all has been anger—anger at being surprised, anger at being denied the spectacle of a Republican circular firing squad, anger that a conservative pro-life Republican could also be a woman and might represent the aspirations of other women, anger at being handed a person they did not know and who did not know them, anger that this upstart thinks she can ruin their coronation party. And the anger was fed by, and was indicative of, a profound elitism—a sense that we were dealing with some redneck moron from a state with no decent restaurants. The Republican candidate for president chose as his running mate a young, charismatic, female Republican governor—probably the most popular governor in the country—whose attitude and resume ring precisely of McCain’s kind of politics, and who has been on most people’s short-list since he won the nomination, and the press treats it as a symptom of some terrible and reckless madness.
But Levin’s dudgeon is nowhere near as high as the spittle spraying from McHose:
There’s a real market in hate today. There is money to be made from advertising, and so a whole industry of quasi-journalists has grown up to package news as a kind of propagandistic diatribe.
It’s Orwell’s two-minutes of hate — and it sells! And as it sells, it grows, and consumes more and more of what was serious journalism, so that we see detailed stories about the love life of two teenagers but few balanced policy debates.
James Wolcott, watching Levin shot himself in the foot, has this to say:
Poor thing, you must have been innocently snowbanked in a coma during the Monica madness, when both Clintons were accused of a baroque variety of crimes and perversions every single night on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC, and likewise during the Chandra Levy saga (whose disappearance was tied to Clinton’s shirt-tails by the late Barbara Olson, Ann Coulter, Debbie Schussel, and Rush Limbaugh as another damning example of the rapacious appetite of the Clintonesque sexual predator), not to mention the rightwing blog witchhunt of Graeme Foster’s family.
What’s happened this week is a thin patch on those rabid hostilities, and if the Palin leggo-my-preggo saga has “legs,” it’s because it’s the perfect tabloid story and tabloids aren’t stupid–they recognize a gusher when they see it, just as the late-night comics do.
As for McHose and her pose of outraged moderation, the only hateful “quasi-journalists” I see are conservative sleaze weasels like Jerome Corsi, whose anthology of lies about Barack Obama trieds to paint the Democratic nominee as a drug-addicted Muslim terrorist, and the Team Kneepad professional sycophants who have taken on the job of making the choice of Sarah Palin look like something other than what it is: a Hail Mary shot from a party sodden with corruption and void of ideas, and a pitch to evangelicals who evidently aren’t bothered by the fact that Palin’s personal relationship with Jesus doesn’t keep her from lying the paint off the walls of any room she’s in.
One last bit from McHose:
Our political system mirrors our justice system. It is adversarial. We make our cases as strongly and wisely as we can. When the voters have rendered their judgment, we walk out of the arena, form committees, and work together to do the people’s business. And that’s what the amateurs don’t understand. You can’t get anything done if you hate the people you’ve got to work with.
To paraphrase the fine speech given by Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman at the Republican convention, there’s only one team, and it’s the American team. The rest of it, by comparison, doesn’t really matter.
Yo, assemblywoman: Joe Lieberman ain’t a Democrat. He ran for re-election as an independent. As for the rest of it, I await the appearance of a Republican Party that’s ready to “work together to do the people’s business,” instead of just giving them the business. What we have now is the same cabal of corporate crooks and evangelical jihadis who paralyzed the Clinton government with a trumped-up scandals and a sleazy impeachment campaign.
There’s not a doubt in my mind that when Obama shellacks McCain, Republicans will once again echo Newt Gingrich’s complaint that Bill Clinton’s election was “a cultural coup” to be overthrown by any means necessary. Reducing their numbers to the point where they cannot wreak any more havoc in the halls of government must be the number one priority for all good American voters — in this election and the ones to come.