From Under The Rubble
By CHRISTOPHER MANION
“Socrates understood (what modern political reformers and revolutionaries seem unable to understand) that a reform cannot be achieved by a well- intentioned leader who recruits his followers from the very people whose moral confusion is the cause of the disorder” ( Eric Voegelin, Plato and Aristotle, p. 5).
+ + + The establishment obits are rolling in on the Republican right: McCain was too nice. We must stop kowtowing to pro-lifers. We conceded the “middle” to Obama. Iraq hardly mattered, once we succeeded. It’s the economy, stupid. Bring back the “ Big Tent”! And my favorite, “ Join us in Washington to chart out the future of the Conservative Movement at this critically historic time!”
No thanks. The autopsy must come first. If we cannot confront the cause of death, we will never resuscitate the conservative cadaver. And while the causes are obvious, identifying them will cause discomfort to some. Meanwhile, here are some hopeful signs — not for the GOP, but for principle. Colorado’s electoral map was virtually all blue, but the four tax hikes on the ballot all lost. California voted overwhelmingly Democratic as well, but its ban on homosexual marriage passed.
Walter Jones, a Catholic, conservative Republican, won two-to-one in a North Carolina congressional district dominated by military families — after he had reversed his earlier support of the Iraq War and come out strongly against it. “Jesse Helms is my hero,” he once told me. Meanwhile, Liddy Dole, a supporter of the president who won Helms’ Senate seat when he retired in 2002, lost big. Jones won big, even though Obama carried the state.
So truly conservative issues and the Republicans who back them can win, even in this hostile climate. But since 2004, for good or ill, unpopular issues like the Iraq War, “big-government conservatism,” corruption, and the financial crisis and panic that they all helped cause had become the face of the Republican brand. Voters were simply fed up with it. All Obama had to promise was “change,” and they ate it up. Moreover, since tens of thousands of insiders from both parties made millions at the trough during the Bush Bonanza, Obama is going to take it out on the rest of us and raise our taxes so he can “ spread the wealth around.”
But change comes in many colors. Outsider Sarah Palin looms as a very real threat to the high- dollar Republican consultant crowd. Unfortunately, many of them merely represent the national version of the corrupt Alaskan GOP machine that Palin threw out of office in 2006. For weeks, it was actually the McCain campaign that provided most of the leaks to the Obama- friendly media, complaining that Palin was actually dragging down McCain’s chances, when in fact she was his only hope. But these guys would rather lose an election than lose their contracts, so their treachery came quite naturally. After all, if they didn’t give her the shove, she might shove them all out to the curb.
Sarah the moose-hunter has staying power, so GOP “experts” will shamelessly pander to recruit her for their fundraising and empire- building campaigns. She can be the party’s star performer for the next four years, if she desires it. Alas, there is little competition. But all the establishment types will be trying to capture her, even though they represent the Washington that 80% of Americans hate. Sarah, however, represents those Americans. So I don’t think she’ll be easy pickings.
And what about our bishops? For Catholics, Obama poses a threat, and offers an opportunity. His administration promises to deliver the most radical, secular, anti- life, and anti- Catholic government in our history. Perhaps this is the right time for Catholic bishops, universities, and charities to break off their commonlaw marriage with the federal government and renounce all taxpayer funding. Then a new breed of Catholic leaders won’t have their hands ( or their tongues) tied when speaking truth to power.
There is more than abortion at stake here. Since 2001, the Bush administration has given Planned Parenthood about $ 350 million a year. How much will Obama give them? Perhaps that’s a good place for our bishops to start.
Things To Come
The New York Times reports that five bureaucrats you’ve never heard of will soon be running the country’s financial institutions. At least they’ll be deciding how the trillion-dollar-plus bailout fund will be distributed. Most of them are Wall Street types in their 30s. Undoubtedly they look forward to sumptuous careers later in life, buoyed up by the connections and favors they make during their time in power. Four out of five of them are presidential appointees, and are subject to confirmation by the Senate. So keep an eye on President Obama’s new appointees, and the senators whom they must please in order to come into their trilliondollar kingdom.
Of course, our new socialist banking system will be an abysmal failure. But a trillion dollars is, as Everett Dirksen used to say, real money. Now, Obama received untold millions in donations from the financial community. Is it possible that these five fine men would ever allow not only their future careers, but politics to enter into their fiduciary decisions? That your money might go to “ them that brung ’ em” ( to quote Sam Rayburn) in a fashion that we might call “inordinate”?
There is a curious sense among many in the masses that, when a person goes to work for the government, his IQ goes up by 30 points and he suddenly becomes ethical, rising above all temptation regarding the power and money he now commands. This happy image rarely conforms to reality, however. In fact, the opposite is usually true. As Bill Buckley once said, “ politics is not an ennobling profession.” Especially, alas, when there’s a trillion dollars at stake.
The Zero And His Hero
On election eve, Obama gently wept as he waxed eloquent in memory of his dear grandmother, who had just died of cancer. “ She was one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America. They’re not famous. Their names aren’t in the newspaper,” he told an adoring crowd, between the tears.
Unfortunately, in his grief, Obama’s memory briefly failed him. In his rise to fame, he had not been at all quiet about his Caucasian grandmother. In fact, he had often invoked her publicly. The most unfortunate — shall we say, the most unlovely — invocation came last March, when Obama delivered a much-heralded “major speech” on race — which he felt necessary because his pastor of over 20 years, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright — the rabid hater of whites, Jews, and most of America — wouldn’t shut up.
In order to explain his 20 years of devotion to one of South Side Chicago’s master hate-mongers, Obama cheerfully made Wright — who is not a relative — a family member. In doing so, perhaps he thought he could drag the seething Wright out of his venomous cesspool; instead, Obama dragged his ( now dearly departed) grandmother into it: “ As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me,” he said of Wright. “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother,” he insisted. Why the comparison? Because she “once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.”
What a guy. On Capitol Hill, Joe Biden has long been recognized as the Senate’s most bombastic bloviator. In teaming up with Obama, he’s met his match.
+ + + Write Christopher Manion and discuss (or criticize) his Wanderer articles at the Catholic Guys Internet blog (http://thecatholicguys.blogspot.com).