Faithful readers may be nonplussed to learn that I am now verging on political optimism. An event as close in clarifying effect to a Damascene bolt of lightning alit on me last week as silently as a bat. It happened, as miracles do, as (political) despair beckoned, as I read the latest installment of the nasty turkey shoot of New York Times editors and columnists picking off the promenade of Republican presidential hopefuls like giggling snipers.
Whenever Mitt Romney looks like he has seen off the latest challenger, Seamus—the Romney family dog, and victim on his trip on the roof of the Romneys’ car from Boston to Quebec of the most demonized journey in American history since the Bataan death march—takes over Gail Collins’s lively column. Seamus was shouldered aside for a few weeks as Rick Perry’s jogging with firearms and vasectomy from his father-in-law were pilloried; and for one week by Chris Christie, whose obesity and liberal views on some issues were basted in the Times’ warm solicitude for Tea Party sensibilities. Then it was Herman Cain’s turn. Following levitations of hauteur about pizza, snufflings of incredulity about his alma mater, and sniggerings as if at a church bingo about 9-9-9, paydirt leapt from the rich earth: groping, lewdness, and “unspecific harassments.” That these charges were denied, were very stale-dated, and were legally inconsequential was all beside the point. (Not to be so lightly dismissed is the controversy’s trail leading to the Obama campaign, especially David Axelrod.)
This caused the dark lagoon’s hatchet ladies to come snorting out of the brackish water. Gail Collins and Maureen Dowd, reaching for the catechism of the damned, dismissed Mr. Cain as a man of such unfathomable turpitude and depravity that he could not be trusted to deliver a pizza to Anita Hill. They declared their latest Republican victim politically dead without checking his vital signs (which seem fairly vigorous).
There is already a clicking of bolts and a leveling of gun barrels at the upward flicker of Newt Gingrich’s polls. And always looming portentously at the end of the trail is Seamus, the heir to other great dogs, the incipient American itinerant victim (Mormon) dog, tail wagging in readiness. (I wish Gail Collins would tell us, in one of Seamus’s frequent cameo appearances in her column, whether he is still alive or has gone ahead to join Fala and Checkers.)
For me to achieve a degree of optimism from this procession of accident-prone Republican candidates might seem aberrant or a worrisome sign of cabin fever, but it isn’t. The grace of revelation came in a mighty flash of celestial light. Whatever obloquy may be rained down on the well-tended topknots of the Republican hopefuls, it will not excuse or reelect the administration described by a commentator a few weeks ago as “the worst since before the invention of electricity.”
This administration will have produced $5 trillion of deficits and greatly expanded the money supply without any serious effort to suggest how it is going to close the spigot, much less repay any of the accumulated debt. Only someone more familiar than I am with fiction’s most fantastic realms could find adequately recondite metaphors for this level of fiscal irresponsibility. There has not been a hint of entitlement reform; no interest in a reforming budget or in changing Social Security’s actuarial assumptions or vesting conditions; no comprehensive analysis of municipal, county, or state debt, as Harrisburg, PA and Jefferson County, AL went down in the last month like tenpins; nor an effort to tackle the $1-trillion student-loan debt bomb. The administration continues its glazed pall of official prevarication in a reassuring monotone.
The president clings to his arithmetic of the 99 percent and cozies up to the Occupy Wall Street infantilists even as he continues his dalliance with the stragglers among his limousine-borne Wall Street groupies. And Treasury Secretary Geithner, having been struck dumb like Zechariah in the temple for the last two years, recovered his voice to exhort the impecunious Europeans to join America in the St. Vitus’s Dance of spending confected trillions of virtual electronic dollars/euros.
Nothing has been done to reduce energy imports, to encourage increased use of natural gas, to bring down the huge current deficit, nor to contemplate real healthcare reform. And in foreign affairs, nothing has apparently been done to reduce the likelihood or imminence of Iranian acquisition of a nuclear military capability, which, when achieved, will convert the president’s enthusiasm for arms control into mute spectatorship of a nuclear-proliferation pandemic.
At least Herbert Hoover acknowledged that a depression was in progress and Jimmy Carter spoke of a malaise (of which his presence in the White House was the principal symptom). The president and other administration spokesmen seem supremely confident that all they have to do to retain immersion rights in the public trough for another four years is hammer the piñata about the 99 percent and chant the preceding president’s name.
As long as there is a candidate that can speak and tie up his shoelaces in the morning, I do not believe Obama can be reelected. He is so unrelievedly incompetent that his administration’s fecklessness is more a matter of sadness and embarrassment. This, I surmise, is why the liberal establishment, the Times editorial writers and columnists, the Hollywood groupies, and the rich fundraisers don’t detect that the ship is sinking and still squeal with delight as the Republican challengers fail to generate more than tentative or reluctant enthusiasm. But they are reading the wrong dials; there will be a Republican nominee. The country will not reelect this mockery of an administration, and whoever the Republican is will be elected and inaugurated, even if he has operated an open-air dog kennel on the wings of an airborne aircraft while groping stewardesses.
My other illuminated revelation, which came swiftly after the first: The voters will not only be disposing of a failed administration; they will be approving the Republican platform, which will call for radical tax simplification and reduction, entitlement reform, serious healthcare reform, real spending reductions, incentives to increased domestic oil production and natural-gas use, and an absolute commitment to preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear military power.
It will be a drastic reform program that will signal that the United States is awakening like Brünnhilde, finally resuming world leadership, acting on its budget and current-account deficits, and behaving like a great power and a textbook case in self-government for the first time since President Bush Senior. The effect will be electrifying. The prattling of those announcing the “Chinese Century” will be drowned out by the sound of the world-leadership vacuum being filled again by Americans.
The new president may have an imperfect CV and too-perfect hair; Speaker Boehner may surpass Mr. Obama’s historic favorite, Iran’s Mohammed Mosaddegh, in his proclivity to burst publicly into tears; the White House may be as boring and banal as it was under George W. Bush (though that is unlikely, especially in syntactical matters); but America will lead in policy terms, if not in its leader’s personality. Problems will be addressed and the mere anarchy of abdication compounded by smug official sophistry will no longer be loosed upon the world. The night will end and glorious will be the dawn in Washington. I have seen the future, and in it, people work.
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