Magazine December 3, 2012, Issue

A Message of Compromisers

It’s only a matter of time before Chris Matthews announces that the amendment limiting presidents to two terms is, in fact, racist. There will be a great lusty national clamor for a bill that gives Obama the chance to have as many terms as the white guy who presided over a sustained economic crisis. Before this happens, the conservative movement has to figure out how to attract all the people who hate them.

Who are these people? Why, they’re a zesty coalition of economic illiterates, young people whose grasp of history is so feeble they think Bill Clinton freed the slaves by winning WWII, and a vast number who don’t like conservatives, don’t believe their ideas, and think “GOP” might as well stand for “Gouty Oligarchical Plutocrats.” That’s whom we need to win over. It brings to mind a scene in Independence Day, when a scientist asks a captured alien what they want humans to do.

“Die,” it croaks.

Okay, well, everything’s on the table, but let’s talk about some options. First step towards winning back the country: conspicuous empathy. Big sloshing wet buckets of the stuff. As Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal, the Democrats have the emotional advantage: People think that the liberals Care. No doubt they do, in the abstract. But the end result of Official State Caring was seen after Hurricane Sandy, when untold numbers of citizens stuffed into Vertical Poor-Person Storage Buildings were left without power, food, and sanitation. The stairwells stunk of offal; the streets were piled with rotting trash. News crews interviewed frightened tenants, and in each case there was evidence of the strange Rapture of the Males that removed all the menfolk from the family structure. The government was the father, of course — and just as absent as the ones who dropped off some DNA and melted into the wind.

If this is the result of Caring, you shudder to contemplate the results of indifference.

For now, accept the fact that the country changed while we were out making money and children. Archie Bunker is dead; Meathead got tenure. Forty years of cultural liberalism rewrote the concept of American exceptionalism to mean that we’re uniquely bad. The iconoclastic skepticism that once defined both boomers and their spawn has settled into the slack-spined posture of the supplicant. “Question Authority,” their self-satisfied college motto, has turned into a plaintive whine: What else can you give me today?

So it’s all lost? No! you say. Buck up! you say. We’re a can-do people. If we can put a man on the moon, perhaps we can put 60 million Democratic voters on the moon, and figure a way so their absentee ballots get “lost” somewhere between Tranquility Base and here.

But that’s not right. That’s their way. Besides, if you put 60 million Obama voters on the moon, they’d still find a way to call us out of touch.

No, we’re told that the party has to retune and refine, adjust its message, reach out, and find a way to turn all those upraised middle fingers into a game of horseshoes.

This requires compromise, which is called “caving” when the Democrats back off from nationalizing an industry and “evolution” when conservatives abandon their defining principles.

#page#But what’s the compromise on gay marriage? GOP offer: Okay, two men can be called a married couple, but it has to be a traditional marriage. Fifties-style. One has to wear pearls and a dress around the house while vacuuming. Liberal response: That just reinforces heteronormative gender concepts. And pearls are gauche. GOP accommodation: Okay, you can get married, but you have to promise not to demand that James Bond go gay in a future movie. Liberal counteroffer: We’ll promise not to complain if he just comes out as bi. GOP: Deal!

What’s the compromise on immigration?  Okay, okay, everyone’s a citizen. You can vote and hold office. You can replace the Constitution displayed in the National Archives with a version written in Spanish, but you have to make the original available for viewing if someone requests it 24 hours ahead of time. The border fence will be replaced by a one-way pedestrian conveyor, like they have at airports. Question from illegal-alien lobby: When it is shut down for repairs, will there be buses to bring in relatives? GOP: Well, okay, but you have to pay the fare. Illegals: Sorry, the Democrats provide free buses, and they show movies. GOP response: Okay, movies, but PG only. Illegals: Sorry, no deal. The kids love those Fast and Furious movies. The kids who weren’t killed by Fast and Furious, that is.

Perhaps the solution rests with untapped identity groups no one’s exploited yet. How about nudists? According to one study, almost 30 million people would consider vacationing at a clothing-optional resort. Peel off 10 percent, and you have Obama’s margin of victory. It needn’t be obvious; don’t have to pander. Just have the next presidential candidate proclaim, during his acceptance speech, that “sometimes I find pants . . . confining” and ask employers to cover sunscreen. No: Require sunscreen coverage under penalty of fines and license revocation.

’Cause that’s how we do freedom now, dawg.

On the other hand, you wonder why they should take any deals conservatives offer. When everything is paid for by someone else or conjured from Bernanke’s Magic Cornucopia of Dollars, you’d be an idiot to vote for the party of restraint.

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

O Fortuna

Conservatives are natural pessimists, based on a realism about fallible human nature that fuels our opposition to the coercive utopianism of the Left. The Founders shared this pessimism about human ...
Politics & Policy

Amnesty Is No Solution

Barack Obama’s popularity with Hispanics — he won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote — has triggered a stampede among Republican political and opinion leaders to support “comprehensive immigration reform.” The ...
Politics & Policy

Against the Tide

800×600 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";} President ...
Politics & Policy

Who Cares?

Almost anyone who has studied the Declaration of Independence has been told at some point that, in reality, it offers Americans the sober promise of life, liberty, and property rather ...
Politics & Policy

Redeeming Obamacare

Sometimes it is hard to accept defeat. On December 18, 1974, Teruo Nakamura, the last known holdout from the Imperial Japanese Army, finally surrendered to Indonesian authorities. It may take ...
Politics & Policy

What Would Jindal Do?

On Tuesday, November 13, just one week after a dispiriting presidential election for the GOP, reporter Jonathan Martin of Politico published an interview with Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Flesh and Blood

Few Hollywood career turns have been more disappointing than Robert Zemeckis’s. The director who once gave the world Back to the Future has spent most of the last decade exploring ...

Sections

Happy Warrior

Bond in Bankruptcy

For some reason, the quadrennial humiliation of the Republican presidential candidate now coincides with the release of the new Bond movie. Don’t ask me why; probably a constitutional amendment I ...
Politics & Policy

Letters

Two Historians Thank you for articles of great interest on Eugene Genovese (“Up from Leftism,” November 14, 2011) and Eric Hobsbawm (“The Tyrants’ Historian,” October 29, 2012). It would have been illuminating ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ At least now, when the president blames the guy in his job four years ago, he’ll be right. ‐ That was a thumping, make no mistake. A failed president earns ...
Athwart

A Message of Compromisers

It’s only a matter of time before Chris Matthews announces that the amendment limiting presidents to two terms is, in fact, racist. There will be a great lusty national clamor ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

With My Parents at Twenty-One They face the hotel ceiling sky Like restful fresh sarcophagi. His snores are gulls that dart and skim Along her ear’s marina rim. I used to have the pluck and ...

Most Popular

Media

The Unrelenting Assault on President Trump

There has never been a presidential campaign in the United States where the administration was so massively opposed by the principal media outlets as in this election. Nor, in at least a century, have the national political media so widely and thoroughly discarded the traditional criterion for journalistic ... Read More
Media

The Unrelenting Assault on President Trump

There has never been a presidential campaign in the United States where the administration was so massively opposed by the principal media outlets as in this election. Nor, in at least a century, have the national political media so widely and thoroughly discarded the traditional criterion for journalistic ... Read More
Education

Destroy the ‘Public’ Education System

‘Public” schools have been a catastrophe for the United States. This certainly isn’t an original assertion, but as we watch thousands of authoritarian brats tearing down the legacies of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, it’s more apparent than ever. State-run schools have undercut two fundamental ... Read More
Education

Destroy the ‘Public’ Education System

‘Public” schools have been a catastrophe for the United States. This certainly isn’t an original assertion, but as we watch thousands of authoritarian brats tearing down the legacies of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, it’s more apparent than ever. State-run schools have undercut two fundamental ... Read More
Culture

Two NFL Apologies

So Drew Brees defended the American flag and all it stands for, said he didn’t agree with kneeling for the national anthem and correctly described this gesture of open disrespect as disrespect. "Is everything right with our country right now?" said the Saints' future Hall of Famer. "No, it is not. We still have ... Read More
Culture

Two NFL Apologies

So Drew Brees defended the American flag and all it stands for, said he didn’t agree with kneeling for the national anthem and correctly described this gesture of open disrespect as disrespect. "Is everything right with our country right now?" said the Saints' future Hall of Famer. "No, it is not. We still have ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Chesterton’s Cops

Conservatives are big on “Chesterton’s fence.” That’s G. K. Chesterton’s principle that you cannot reform what you do not understand, that you should not for the sake of convenience knock down a fence until you understand why it was put up in the first place. When encountering a fence in his way, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Chesterton’s Cops

Conservatives are big on “Chesterton’s fence.” That’s G. K. Chesterton’s principle that you cannot reform what you do not understand, that you should not for the sake of convenience knock down a fence until you understand why it was put up in the first place. When encountering a fence in his way, ... Read More
Culture

Why Progressives Wage War on History

Princeton University’s decision to remove the name “Woodrow Wilson” from its School of Public and International Affairs is a big win for progressive activists, and the implications will extend far beyond the campus. It hardly surprises me, in today’s polarizing environment, that my alma mater caved to ... Read More
Culture

Why Progressives Wage War on History

Princeton University’s decision to remove the name “Woodrow Wilson” from its School of Public and International Affairs is a big win for progressive activists, and the implications will extend far beyond the campus. It hardly surprises me, in today’s polarizing environment, that my alma mater caved to ... Read More
Regulatory Policy

Going Medieval

Writing in Bloomberg, Noah Smith gives more than a nod to Peter Turchin’s theory of elite overproduction (or, as Smith neatly relabels the phenomenon, “elite over-competition”) as a cause of the current wave of turmoil in the West, something with which I would agree but, I think, more emphatically. Quite ... Read More
Regulatory Policy

Going Medieval

Writing in Bloomberg, Noah Smith gives more than a nod to Peter Turchin’s theory of elite overproduction (or, as Smith neatly relabels the phenomenon, “elite over-competition”) as a cause of the current wave of turmoil in the West, something with which I would agree but, I think, more emphatically. Quite ... Read More
U.S.

Bad News about the Virus

On the menu today: an important update about indications that the coronavirus is now more contagious than it used to be, with far-reaching ramifications for how we fight this pandemic; a point on the recent complaints about the Paycheck Protection Program; and a new book for everyone closely following the debate ... Read More
U.S.

Bad News about the Virus

On the menu today: an important update about indications that the coronavirus is now more contagious than it used to be, with far-reaching ramifications for how we fight this pandemic; a point on the recent complaints about the Paycheck Protection Program; and a new book for everyone closely following the debate ... Read More

Canceled, &c.

There was a headline last week: “Boeing Communications Chief Resigns Over Decades-Old Article on Women in Combat.” Find the story here. It explains that “Niel Golightly abruptly resigned on Thursday, following an employee’s complaint over an article the former U.S. military pilot wrote 33 years ago ... Read More

Canceled, &c.

There was a headline last week: “Boeing Communications Chief Resigns Over Decades-Old Article on Women in Combat.” Find the story here. It explains that “Niel Golightly abruptly resigned on Thursday, following an employee’s complaint over an article the former U.S. military pilot wrote 33 years ago ... Read More