Wednesday, November 23, 2011

THE REPUBLICAN FOLLIES

The GOP was once seen as the party of an elite, excellence in financial and world affairs and gentleman behavior. The Democrats were considered more creative, less disciplined and often unpredictable. All those clich├ęs are today in a defensive mode. The financial tsunami looks as if it has overruled any Cartesian reflex. Thoughts as well as manners are in total disarray. President Obama too often gives the impression of “presiding over” rather than “intervening in.” This creates a void where the absurd rules on both sides. Since President Obama will be his party’s nominee, the Republican show receives all the attention.

First, all that is political has become inept, universally. It is too easy to be overcritical when confronted by a spectacle of neophytes who let themselves be trapped by media who are mostly liberal. Grown-ups should expect that and be prepared, but, on the contrary, they project a shrill image of provincial non-intellectual amateurism. With the exception of Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, the other candidates look as if they just woke up from an induced coma. I do not want to go into the general degeneration of the political discourse in the US (and elsewhere) but I am shocked by the kind of “hubris” which affects mediocre, uninteresting personae who imagine that they are called to be Commander in Chief. One can argue that Obama also miscalculated the need for gravitas and professional “savoir faire.” Lately he seems to have gotten a better feeling for international affairs but his handling of the American political machinery remains totally perplexing. The Republicans gave birth to a sub-normal child, the Tea Party, which would unbury the agnostic Founding Fathers if they could. This hybrid has taken the classical Republican message hostage and finds in Michelle Bachmann and Co. their avenging angel. Too bad her wings, unlike those of Icarus, are “weather resistant.”

I am still more on the side of the Democratic Party, but I must admit that lately the doubts loom larger than the hopes one had three years ago. Obama gives the impression of having chosen the role of philosopher King. After the eight years of George W. Bush, this more sober, intellectual approach was attractive until it became aloof and started to look shallow. The President does not get involved with Congress, too often making proposals, which he refers to the Democrats in Congress, without personal follow-up. Only in universal health care did the President look involved, but he chose the wrong battle at the wrong time. Some talk already about the possibility of a one- term president and given the toxic gridlock in Washington this outcome cannot be excluded. On the other hand, any prevision is premature as long as the Republicans have not made up their mind with regard to their nominee. None looks that convincing and until now the front-runner (Governor Romney) runs more on his “presidential” looks than on his ideas. Gingrich is smart and sly but his closet is too packed with unsavory things that would be a gift for the Democratic machine. Perry is too Texas, Huntsman too polished, Paul too libertarian (but smart in a surreal way), Bachmann too often the nurse from hell and Cain trying to hide his emptiness behind mathematical magician tricks.

The waiting game continues and the real inter-Republican onslaught will start with the nerdy Iowa caucuses where the candidates have to go into overkill, eating pancakes, suffering the indignities of horrible weather and praising the Lord while cursing the humiliations of American political campaigns which tend to drag on forever. At least the sitting president can still enjoy the comfort of Air Force One and campaign with a stack of ammunitions which will come into the open as soon as the Republicans have come to terms with the elimination game and their winner is able to project all the usual platitudes of a happy American family, united under God ... just as his opponent will do. Why vote?

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