I haven’t the time, nor really the inclination, to wade too deeply into what some have been calling the “Pundit Wars.” While I think my friends Peggy Noonan, Kathleen Parker, Christopher Buckley et al have the weaker arguments by a wide margin, I generally think this is an idiotic time to have these sorts of fights (what the hell were the primaries for again?). It’s not that I think they’re not necessary or interesting debates, nor is my chief concern that conservatives not air their dirty laundry or provide story lines for liberals looking for good epitaph copy for their demise of conservatism thumbsuckers (though such concerns are not without merit).
Rather, I just think that there are too many competing emotions, agendas, motivations and grievances less three weeks before the election. People are ticked off, they’re exhausted. The I-told-you-so demon is at war with the spirit of what-might-have-been. I myself have a great reservoir of bile I would like to vent. To pretend that we’re having a straightforward argument about ideas is like saying a married couple driving around lost in the middle of a desert isn’t having a fight, they’re merely discussing the finer points of geography. We’ll know what we need to know after the election and if — if – McCain and the GOP come out the losers we’ll have a luxurious amount of time to argue amongst ourselves about which way forward and which wrong turns we may or may not have taken. If David Brooks wants to be oncologist in chief of the GOP and tell us where the cancers are, he’ll be free to do so. If some of my colleagues want to crack the whip on the ideological slackers in our midst, they’ll have plenty of elbow room.
But it’s worth pointing out that if McCain loses and the Democrats surge in the Congress, we’ll also have some greater reminders of what we agree on to help us keep our disagreements in perspective.