Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chain of Fools

We have the “one each” (except for Ron Paul) wins in the three caucuses/primaries so far. We have the road kill brigade – Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and Huntsman. And to add to the, ahem, “drama”, we have the pagan love feast that was the state of the union address. No one on the Republican side wants to face the fact that they are outnumbered by tax receivers, who are the new “silent majority”. All they can do is scurry and scuttle among the three least unelectable candidates, and occasionally feel their faces burning with shame when Ron Paul convicts them of being not really conservative, and shameless war mongers. And all the Democrats have to do is sit back and enjoy the show, secure in the conviction that their man is unbeatable in November. Unbeatable, that is, unless some real disaster intervenes. But what could that possibly be? We've gotten used to our economic woes, having come to accept the way things are as the new status quo... so it's hard to imagine a new economic catastrophe (or revelation about the old one) sufficiently grave to threaten Obama's chances. Plus, the Democrats – to give credit where credit is due – are absolutely brilliant at blaming anything bad that happens to the economy on the Republicans, no matter who's in the White House. Of course, in this they have the unstinting help of the mainstream media, who work day and night to maintain the halo and messianic aura that they placed on Obama's brow a few years back, when he was made president by popular acclaim (the election of 2008 being a mere technicality). If Reagan was the “Teflon president”, then Obama is the guy coated with the same tiles they use on the space shuttle to keep it from burning up on re-entry. When it comes to deflecting blame, his skill level is stratospheric... before which we can only prostrate ourselves and cry “We are not worthy!”

And that's an interesting point, actually. How smart, really, is Obama? He is a first-class orator... “presents well”... has “curb appeal”, as they say in real estate... has an attractive family... but does he really know anything, or is he, basically, the product of a committee? Is he nothing more than a "machine politician" but with more charisma? We know that in George W. Bush's case, for instance, he was completely unable to hide the fact that he was an idiot... and of course Carter's incompetence was so titanic that it was impossible to conceal. But most modern presidents have been, more than anything else, skilled actors – literally in the case of Reagan. So it really is impossible to penetrate far enough to determine whether there is anything inside of that well-groomed head. Clinton may have been intelligent, but his pathological personality was right out there for all to see, and I suspect that his close advisors had plenty of “cringe moments”. The ideal president for our time would, in fact, be someone like the Dowager Empress of China, kept within many layers of walls and guards, and never allowed to be seen or heard in public. We need, in fact, the White House to become the new Holy of Holies, which only the select few can enter, and even then with fear and trembling. I mean... our president is little more than a figurehead anyway, so why not admit it? Why not give in, once and for all, to the personality cult that seems to infect communist societies, despite all of their egalitarian pretenses? The fact that the person occupying the office can change every four or eight years is not a problem; after all, royalty come and go, hereditary dictators come and go... and that doesn't prevent personality cults from arising and being replaced by updated versions. And after all, look at the aura that clings to our presidents long after they retire – they are still called “Mister President”, they still get Secret Service protection, and all the rest of it. They are temporary, and accidental, royalty – but royalty nonetheless. If voting represents the egalitarian side of our system, then abject worship of the presidency, and of the president, represents the authoritarian side. As someone once commented, we Americans are a curious lot in that we elect a king every four years. We mold a man out of clay (or allow him to be molded for us) and then turn around and worship him like a graven image or golden calf. And I suppose that by doing so we actually worship “democracy”, i.e. ourselves.

The amazing thing is that, for a figurehead position, the presidency is nonetheless sought after with a zeal rivaling a religious crusade – which, I suppose, reflects the level of delusion of the people who declare their candidacy. And that delusion persists right through the primaries, the nomination process, the election, and the inauguration – at which point the hapless newly-minted president is finally let in on the secret... namely that he is a glorified servant, and that the real power is totally elsewhere. Oh, he can work at the margins and pursue his own pathetic agenda to some extent, but none of the real decisions – the ones that matter – are his. (The fact that George W. Bush referred to himself as “The Decider” should be sufficient to convince you on that point. No one with any sense would have let him "decide" anything, except maybe his choice of power neckties. He basically spent his eight years in office locked in a room with a bunch of Fisher-Price toys.)

Thus the flush of victory quickly turns into a scapegoating process – and the president begins to grow visibly more gray and worn out. You've seen it – it happens every time. And it's not because of the “pressures of the office” -- it's because the president is in the same position as the “executive monkey” in the classic experiment – he has superficial authority but no real power, and has to take all the blame for everything. And yet people who seem, otherwise, reasonably sane seek after this office more fervently than a drowning man seeks for air. It's a mystery.

Then we have foreign policy, which is a non-factor since Obama's is indistinguishable from the Republicans' (excepting Ron Paul, as usual). We are ready, prepared, and eager to go to war with anybody, at any time, for any reason; this pretty much sums it up. Oh, except that “no reason” also serves as a reason – so all of the bases are covered. But ask yourself this – is there any sort of folly in foreign policy that would turn people – especially his left-wing “peacenik” supporters – against Obama? Would a full-scale war with Iran do it? Doubtful. How about North Korea? Ditto. How about China? He might lose a few votes there, but not many. Our perpetual-war and ever-escalating foreign policy is, in other words, totally risk-free for a president or any other politician – which shows you what we have become as a nation. The liberal left that was so anti-war during Vietnam has developed a strange new respect for war... and the right, e.g. mainline conservatives, have always preferred to shoot first and ask questions later (if ever). So this is one area where we “stand united” as a nation – which is, I guess, why it never comes up in any discussions. But having said all that, it is somewhat possible that Obama is putting off a war with Iran until after the election – on the (realistic) expectation that it would be no more of a “cakewalk” than Iraq was. If he were really confident, he'd take us into war right now – today! But he's smart enough to realize that our goals in war no longer include actually winning, or even having a definite purpose in mind. He is as much a captive of the war racket as anyone else, so has to walk a tightrope between the demands of the war cabal and what he thinks ordinary people would prefer.

So the strategy of the MSM is working admirably, breathtakingly well. The Republican candidates have been forced to highlight each other's many failings – a process which will be taken up by the Democrats with vigor once the real race begins. And no one will be able to accuse them (the Democrats) of mean-spiritedness, because, after all, it's no more than other Republicans have already said. So if Rockjaw Goodhair gets the nomination, it'll be all about his status as a hard-core robber baron and corporate predator. And if The Grinch gets the nomination, it'll be all about his lobbying, his wives, his moon base... you name it. The Republicans are, even as we speak, writing the script for every one of Obama's election speeches; nothing further need be added. And as I said, the overall idea is to keep the Republicans off balance – to make inroads on that “inevitability” issue that seemed to make Goodhair a shoo-in before people found out he was rich.

Of course, the ultimate dream of the Democrats would be if Ron Paul decided, after the convention, to peel off and become a third-party candidate. This would – or so they believe – take a big enough chunk out of the Republican fan base so as to insure the defeat of Goodhair, or Grinch, or whomever. The problem I have with this theory is that I don't think many of Ron Paul's supporters would be caught dead voting for any of the others in a general election – no more than they would be caught voting for Obama. In other words, they are only engaged in the mainstream political process because of Ron Paul, and if he left the scene so would they. In fact, it's just possible that we're talking about people who have seldom if ever voted at all – so the erosion effect may be overestimated. (I know in my case that if I'm given a choice between a war-mongering Christian (or Mormon) Zionist and a socialist, I'm going to cast a write-in vote for Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.)

So, as I said, everything is going according to plan. The Republicans are in disarray and Obama has his base -- as secure, unthinking, worshipful, and robotic as the North Korean army. The only saving grace in this election is the annoying (to everyone else) persistence of Ron Paul as a thorn in the side of... just about everyone. Pretty much everything he says is an indictment and an accusation – not just of liberalism but also of neoconservatism... and of statism, collectivism, totalitarianism, and big government in general. His are words that are seldom heard in the public forum, and they should make nearly all other politicians and “national leaders” cringe with shame. But we're in a different era of our history now, when the values of old are considered “hate” or some sort of “-ism”, and the new values (or anti-values) are those that any enemy of the United States would gladly aid and abet – either because they agreed with them, or because they knew it would only bring the system crashing down sooner.

So we dive into the deep to “save” the economy of Europe, only to find ourselves in that awkward situation of a lifeguard who isn't strong or skilled enough to get the distressed person off their neck – with the result that they both drown. Or, we commit our armed forces and our national wealth to the “defense” of a very small, very obnoxious country in the Near East, only to find that we've thrown ourselves on their funeral pyre. We are living, in other words, in the era of reductio ad absurdum – where all of the basic premises underlying “the American system” have finally shown their fatal flaws. It's like owning a car with multiple warranties, all of which expire on the same day. It's not that we were “right” before but are “wrong” now – it's that the flaws, like those in a physical structure, were always there but were subliminal... for a while. But they tend to spread and become more serious over time, eventually becoming fatal. It's not – as Pat Buchanan seems to believe – that we were once good, and great, and near-perfect, but have been taken over and co-opted by evil socialists, internationalists, and moral relativists. The seeds of our present discontents were there at the beginning, and have been slowly germinating... and are only now erupting as a mass jungle, to entrap the unwary and snuff out liberties. The fact that we were, apparently, “part of the solution” in times past only showed how much worse off the rest of the world was. But since World War II, we have been in the position of “the ugly American” -- riding in on a white charger to save people, and nations, from themselves... and our efforts are seldom appreciated, especially when people realize what we have to offer in exchange. Would anyone in any other country, witnessing what we are witnessing, really want to have a system like ours to select their leaders? Would anyone want to adopt our model of public education? How many would turn their economic fate over to bankers and the international financial cartel? How many would be willing to go into debt that can never be repaid, but which will be the basis for our servitude for generations to come? How many would be willing to sacrifice the economic future of their country for the sake of some other country (that gives us nothing in return but more demands and insults)? We commit all of these follies, and more – and yet there are people who sincerely want to be “in charge” of this process? I say we declare them all insane, lock them up, and start over.

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