Monday, March 22, 2010

This Really Is A Great Night, Isn't It?


Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Madame Speaker. Thank you, Representative of My Fair District. And thank you, two hundred or so other Democratic members of the House who committed to vote YEA back when times were darkest, without being drama queens, camera hogs, or bribe suckers. You are all truly great Americans.

[Added] See also.


tafkass said...

I'm quite proud of having stayed up 'til 2am UK time to check on the result (it was all covered quite heavily over here, as befits a presidency-defining moment). The coverage could only have been improved if it had repeatedly cut away to that footage of Glenn Beck crying...

Seriously tho' - to the fairly uninitiated overseas observer who watches "The Daily Show" and hears a fair bit about Fox News, the Republicans tend to come across as some sort of latterday Salem mob with "socialism" replacing witches as the focus of their irrational fear (although to be fair, David Frum's blog has provided some fairly intelligent comment). Are there many moderate voices on the right, or is it all religio-racist wibbling?

bjkeefe said...

That's a hard question to answer. Certainly there are, in one sense -- in a population of 300 million, one can find a lot of people of any type. But as far as people who have a prominent voice go, in the media or in political office, there sure don't seem to be, and to the extent that there are in the latter, they seem now mostly to be conservative Democrats.

I have noticed that when I get into spats online and I'm accused of having no patience for anyone on the right, and I attempt to list names to show that this is not true, the reaction of will be "Those aren't REAL conservatives." [1] There is, at the high levels of national party politics, the rightwing media (Fox News, talk radio, especially), and at the level of the ordinary person of the right a strong impression that purity to The Cause is valued above all else.

I should say that there seems to be an effort among some conservatives to present themselves as having little to do with the social conservatives -- the sort who care most about abortion, same-sex marriage, and other aspects of other people's naughty bits. These people will tell you that they're all about fiscal conservatism -- worrying about the national debt, letting Teh Free Market solve all woes, etc. I am inclined to believe some of them, but cynical enough to think that the prominent ones among them merely have acknowledged those culture-war issues don't gain them the traction that they used to. On the other hand, I was always sure that some Republicans in power were just using the social conservatives to build up their base and campaign coffers.

So, the short answer is no, I think, not at the moment. The few politicians who could be called somewhat moderate (like John McCain, say) are (1) really only that way by comparison and (2) entirely disinclined to break ranks when we're talking about passing legislation. And, as I noted above, those in the media who try to portray themselves as the proverbial Reasonable Conservative (David Brooks of The New York Times is the canonical example) tend often to be dismissed by other conservatives for insufficient zeal and by liberals as apologists for the wingnuts, teabaggers, and neocons.


[1] David Frum would be an example of this. Or he would be, if I had more respect for him -- I tend to think he has a lot more to atone for from his time as a Bush operative before I'm ready to see him as anything other than an opportunist, trying to rebrand himself. However, that he has gone to so much effort over the past year and a half or so to define himself as different from the sort of person who likes Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, etc., that does count for something.