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I Want Spock to Be My Senator

January 18, 2010

Frum embarrasses me and everybody else who ever agreed with anything that Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin ever said.  On their conversation the other day:

Republicans used to be the daddy party – the party of responsibility, of rules, of the hard truths of life. Yet these two pre-eminently visible spokespersons for conservatism and Republicanism talked for a full hour about their … feelings. They talked about trust and betrayal, they talked about wounds and hurt, they talked about spirituality and even relationships. But they pronounced scarcely  a word about any external reality: war, recession, the long-term prospects for the country. It was like a scene from a Marin County fern bar in 1977.

That really makes me blush.  I can feel my face getting red as I read it again.  It’s one of the heaviest things I’ve read in a good long while.  I’ve never agreed with a lot of what Beck has said and I think Palin does more harm than good, but I’ve defended both of them against criticism from people I know before, and this makes me wish I hadn’t.

Look, I know Beck isn’t a Republican.  I don’t identify that way either, but I’ve never found a good reason to vote alternatively and never have.  But WFB was right: conservatives need the Republican Party.  And my great fear is that it will fail to learn the lessons of 2008.  I’m not here to tell people that feelings and spirituality are not very important aspects of one’s personal life.  I will say, however, that Sarah Palin’s personal life is Sarah Palin’s personal life, not mine or anyone else’s.  And her emotions should have nothing to do with the way she believes federal policy should be handled.  Ultimately, it is policy that affects the lives of the citizenry, and the politicization of policy is something that should be approached from an outlook based on principle, logic, and evidence.  I don’t want any politician that’s supposed to be on my side giving me any “I listen to my heart” gobbledygook.  I don’t want to hear about government panels that are going to decide to kill your child, whether or not “end-of-life-counseling” is part of the health-care bill. You’re not supposed to listen to your heart when it comes to politics.  That’s what Tom Friedman does.

The Republican Party is riding what appears to be a wave of cynicism regarding health-care reform to what many believe will be a victory for Scott Brown in Massachusetts tomorrow.  What it needs to realize is that it will not always have public opinion on its side.  It will not always be able to exploit the Democrats’ crookedness (Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, the excise tax exemption).  If it ever returns to power, will it advocate for its own policies on the idea that terrorists don’t deserve civilian trials because they’re bad guys, that its own health care ideas will increase freedom, and they will keep the money supply intact fiscally?  That’s really going to help them push good policy through?  There are very good reasons to oppose these ideas, but how many Republicans have vocally propounded them?

The Party was fiscally irresponsible (Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, etc.).  The Party suggested zero reforms to address the health care problems of the last decade (such as tort reform, sinking out-of-pocket costs disproportionate to third-party payer expenses, and equating the tax policies for individual and employer-based insurance).  The executive branch did not prosecute KSM when it had the chance, leaving Eric Holder with the power to bring immeasurable damage to our justice system by giving him a civilian trial in New York.  The compassionate conservative of the Aughts might be much more difficult to get rid of than we can fathom.  And when politicians like Sarah Palin and talking heads like Glenn Beck go on the air talking about their feelings (and crying), Republicans end up looking like twelve-year-old brats whining that the Democrats won’t take them to get Baskin Robbins.

The Republican Party must be “the party of responsibility, of rules, of the hard truths of life”, in Frum’s words.  The Democrats have proven time and time again that they cannot be that party.  Leave the mood swings and the idealism to them.  Let’s have some pessimism.

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