Is "system" really the word for our two-party, er, arrangement?
It's not exactly news that here at DWT we don't have a whole lot of hope for either of our major political parties. And since Howie has, as usual, been keeping us up to date on the horror shows of both, I haven't felt the need to chime in. (Not much anyway.) But a pair of items that have jumped out of the news hole into the opinion pages -- in one case, a Washington Post editorial, in the other a NYT column by Gail Collins -- and it struck me that they kind of sketch out the boundaries of the hole we're in.
AMERICA, MEET YOUR 2014 REPUBLICAN TEAM
You remember "Cuckoo Ken" Cuccinelli, the super-exreme right-wing wacko who got himself elected Virginia's attorney general and is now the Republican Party's candidate to succeed fake-moderate far-right-wing Gov. Bob McDonnell?
And you remember the ironic turn of events by which his handlers are forcing him to pretend to be a tad less crazy than he is in order to throw less of a scare into the non-wacko portion of the state electorate. After all, all he has to do is defeat perhaps the most loathsome candidate the Dems could have come up with: Mr. Moneybags, Terry McAuliffe, and he gets to move into the governor's office and unleash his full crazy.
And you remember the still more ironic turn of events by which the Cooch is now saddled with a running mate possibly even crazier than he is. (Yes, it's possible. As I like to say, you never want to put something like that in the form of a challenge.)
Well, it takes a lot to get the Editorial Board of the Washington Post worked up to the point of bluntly dressing down war-whooping right-wingers. But harken unto the start of this editorial, "Va.’s Cuccinelli plays fast and loose with the facts on abortion":
And even the Post editorial writer gets there in the end.
I bring up the Virginians, not as a side show, but as part of the main event. Although voices of caution are finally being heard around the margins, the Republican Party remains in thrall to its farthest-right crazies. Howie has been tracking them here, so I don't need to review the list. Arizona Rep. Trent Franks's loony resurrection of Republican rape craziness should serve as a reminder that 2012 poster crazies Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana differed only in their nutty bluntness from their more circumspect colleagues like whiz kid Paul Ryan.
(I should add that there is, of course, another party dallying in the Republican tent: the people who view it -- in a good way -- as the Party of the Rich, who expect to use all those poor dumb sumbitches as tools toward enabling the party to personally enrich them. They are, again of course, bolstered by all those rich-guy wannabes who will settle for being lackeys to the elites, beneficiaries their largesse. I'm not including these people in my argument because, after all, they have correctly identified their own interests and are correctly pursuing them.)
THEN THERE'S YOUR DEMOCRATIC LINEUP
In today's column, "The Revenge of Magic Mike, the NYT's Gail Collins surveyed the fallout from the latest electoral initiatives of New York City's Michael Bloomberg, the man who, she imagines, has us all asking ourselves, "What would I do if I had $27 billion to toss around?"
As we all know, Mayor Mike has made illegal guns his immediate cause, and he and his fellow Mayors Against Illegal Guns have targeted the four Democratic senators who this year voted against the exceedingly modest gun regulation bill, despite heavy popular support. She points to the $350K Mayor Mike poured into ads in Arkansas targeting Sen. Mark Pryor, one of the two out of the apostate four running for reelection this year, along with Alaska's Mark Begich. And now there's Mayor Mike's letter to the thousand biggest New York Democratic donors encouraging them not to contribute to the campaigns of the Dem Four.
"Some gun control advocates," Gail writes, "regard this as a disastrous example of tone-deaf politics: the war on Big Gulps writ large." Pryor and Begich, she points out,
Well, yes, but . . . .
We've been living with this argument for decades now: In any given instance, are we better off with a Republican or a Democrat who's not much better? And we all know the arguments on both sides.
In presidential politics, were we really (or would we really have been) better off with [fill in the name of any of the Dem candidates of the last several decades] than with [the R each was running against]> Or rather would we be enough better off to justify supporting so flawed a candidate? The Senate version goes like this: On the one hand, Rs who replace Ds will be voting for Mitch McConnell for majority leader, while on the other hand we can't go on indefinitely rewarding Ds who, when the chips are down, are likely to vote with the Rs.
(The latter is sometimes accompanied by the argument that maybe by t'rowing da bums out, we can hope for a resurrection, the dawn of a more enlightened-by-purge party and candidates. It was the argument of the people who voted for Ralph Nader. But I'd like to that that especially in the shadow of George W. Bush this argument isn't going to regain much currency.)
My point tonight is not to come down on one side or the other, but to step back and suggest that the very nature of this perennial dilemma is why there's so little to be hoped for from the Dems. I will still continue to vote for them, mostly, just as I've been voting Dem in pretty much each of the above-referenced instances. I have no doubt, for example, that we would be significantly worse off with a President Willard than we are with what we've got. But if someone wants to insist how much better?, beyond saying "a fair piece better," I don't think I want to talk about it.
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