Americans, according to a Winston Churchill quote of uncertain provenance, always do the right thing after they’ve exhausted all other possibilities. More verifiably, Sir Winston, upon being asked if he had any criticism of the United States, replied tersely: “Toilet paper too thin, newspapers too fat.”
But that was then. Today America is a land of two-ply toilet paper and one-ply newspapers. Being made of sterner stuff than Churchill’s posterior, the eco-Left want to ban two-ply bathroom tissue on environmental grounds, which would devastate the economy of Canada, whence comes most American bathroom tissue, at least until the Canadians, being the House of Saud of toilet paper, start shipping it to China, as they’re now doing with their oil ever since Obama told them to go lay pipe somewhere else.
As for those once-fat newspapers, they’re now so thin that they’ve only got room for the very mostest important news, like whether 30-year-old law-school coeds have sufficient access to federally-mandated contraception and (breaking!) the dog Mitt Romney put on the roof of his car in the early Eighties. You have to be able to prioritize.
That’s the genius of Romney’s vice-presidential pick: It explicitly invites Americans to “do the right thing.” Insofar as he’s known to the electorate at all, Paul Ryan is the man with the plan — the guy who understands that multi-trillion-dollar spendaholic government cannot continue. On that subject, Obama is the man with no plan, and no plans to get any plan. Yet the mere selection of Ryan has already improved the quality of the Obama campaign: Two weeks ago, they were denouncing Romney for killing a woman by cunningly giving her cancer five years after laying off her husband. Now they’re denouncing Ryan for killing off Medicare. The former is the opening scene from the straight-to-video Carcinogenic Zombie Mormon Venture Capitalist Apocalypse; the latter has a very very teensy-weensy gossamer thread of connection to the issues facing the United States. So we should congratulate the Democrats on a modest re-acquaintance with reality. With Ryan on the ticket, the central question facing America can’t be ducked.
As for the other half of that Churchill line — exhausting all the other possibilities — last week a man called Floyd Corkins shot another man called Leo Johnson, the security guard at the Family Research Council, a “conservative” group, according to the muted media coverage, or a “hate group,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, who spray that term around like champagne on a NASCAR podium. Mr. Corkins, an “LGBT volunteer,” told his victim, “I don’t like your politics.” In his backpack, he had one box of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches. Had he had one Chick-fil-A sandwich and 15 boxes of ammunition, he might have done more damage. Or then again perhaps not, given that, as bloggers Kathy Shaidle and “the Phantom” pointed out, he reached his target and then started “monologuing,” as they say in The Incredibles.
Be that as it may, Mr. Corkins decided to shoot people because of a chicken-sandwich-chain owner’s position on same-sex marriage. That’s what Floyd Corkins thinks is the most pressing issue facing the United States. Perhaps he saw himself as the Gavrilo Princip of our time. Like Floyd Corkins, young Princip was not the sharpest knife in the transgender clinic — the cyanide pill he took after the assassination was past its sell-by date; to evade capture, his co-conspirator jumped into the River Miljacka, but it was only five inches deep, and a man standing up to his ankles in the middle of a river in a large city tends to attract attention. Nevertheless, Princip’s assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand plunged Europe into war and brought down the Austrian, German, Russian, and Turkish empires with consequences that plague us to this day (not least the post-Ottoman Middle East). History does not record whether Princip embarked on his mission with 15 pieces of wienerschnitzel or Sachertorte in his backpack, but he changed the course of history. Perhaps Floyd Corkins had similar dreams: He would be the flamer that lit the fuse to liberate a continent from the oppressiveness of homophobic waffle fries.
I’m not blaming Floyd Corkins’s actions on the bullying twerps at the Southern Poverty Law Center or those thug Democrat mayors who tried to run Chick-fil-A out of Boston and Chicago. But I do think he’s the apotheosis of narcissistic leftist myopia. He symbolizes that exhaustion of the other possibilities — the dwindling down of latter-day liberalism to ever more self-indulgent distractions from the hard truths of a broke and ruined landscape. Our elites have sunk into a boutique decadence of moral preening entirely disconnected from reality: A non-homophobic chicken in every pot, an abortifacient dispenser in every Catholic university, a high-speed-rail corridor between every two bankrupt California municipalities . . .
No sane man could compete on this turf. Romney declined to come out for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, but the other week he did come out in favor of gay scoutmasters — whether just for scouts or for the rest of us too was unclear. But it doesn’t matter. He could announce he was in favor of closing Gitmo and retraining every detainee as a gay scoutmaster, he could declare an amnesty for every undocumented gay scoutmaster north of the Rio Grande — and it still wouldn’t be enough. He’s still Mitt Romney and he’ll put your dog on the roof, your wife in the ground, and your Negro houseboy in the cotton field out back — or, as the vice president of the United States told a mostly black crowd in Virginia the other day, “he gonna put y’all back in chains.”