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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Crossing the Styx with Mona Charon

Timothy Birdnow

Over at National Review Moaning Charon, er, Mona Charen shows why the Conservative Movement is largely kaput.

Charen has this to say about Rick Santorum:

"Because he has phrased his socially conservative views in vivid terms, he is precisely the sort of candidate who will evoke a Pavlovian response from the press. Just as they were driven mad by Sarah Palin, they will be outraged by Rick Santorum. The campaign will be cluttered by the continual discovery of “controversial” Santorum quotes from the past three decades, and precious time will be lost as he explains, justifies, or withdraws his comments on women in the workforce, contraception, gay unions, Obama’s “theology” (by which he did not mean to question the president’s faith, something he’ll have to explain over and over), and so forth.

In fact, Santorum’s sanctimonious style might put off even many religious voters. His intense 2008 warning about “the Father of Lies, Satan” having his “sights on the United States of America . . . attacking the great institutions of America — using those great vices of pride, vanity and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that [have] so deeply rooted in the American tradition” is not the sort of language most preachers, to say nothing of political figures, employ today. American religion these days is heavy on forgiveness and light on sin. We’ve long since left Jonathan Edwards behind. Anything other than comic references to Satan are likely to give people the creeps."

End excerpt.

Now, the temptation is to skewer one's own eyeballs ala Oedipus Rex at that first paragraph; does Charen actually believe that ANYTHIHNG will fail to evoke a Pavlovian response from the press by any candidate - anything that offers any hope of electoral success? How many years has Mona been studying the American media? Sucking up to the media is less than pointless. They are the enemy, even more than the Democrats, who are at least open about their purposes. If a candidate fails to elicit a pavlovian response we should be concerned about that candidate; they aren't being effective. It's part of why there is so little criticism of Mitt Romney by the media - or of John McCain before him. Or of Bob Dole in 1996. Trying to get media approval is like trying to bail water from the ocean.

I would like to point out that the only conservative President we have ever had - Ronald Reagan - was utterly reviled by the media. It was a source of strength for Reagan, who simply refused to play ball with them on their own field. Reagan called them out rather than pretended to take them seriouosly. This was a huge factor in Reagan's popularity with the general public; he showed that he had convictions rather than said what was popular.

As for Santorum's discussion of Satan, we are supposed to worry that religious voters will turn on him for that?

A 2007 poll revealed that more Americans believe in the Devil than in Darwinism. Fully 62% of Americans believe in the existence of Satan. The concept of a Devil and devils is nigh unto universal in scope, being a major component of most non-New Age religions. There is nothing controversial or improper about speaking about Satan to an audience at a Catholic university. The media may seek to make it so, but they are on thin ground.

Moaner continues:

"Additionally, as Santorum himself seemed to acknowledge in the Arizona debate, the social issues that worry him (and should worry all of us), such as the collapse of the two-parent family, are not the kinds of problems that government can or even should attempt to solve. Yes, welfare programs that reward unwed parenting by subsidizing it are part of the problem. But, as Santorum will tell you (repeatedly), he helped reform welfare. That was the easy part. The rest is cultural change, and the president of the United States has very limited influence there.

If the fall campaign is all about what Rick Santorum said about gay adoptions, or a dozen other cultural live wires, it will not be about the Republican party’s most important and compelling issues: the ballooning national debt, the gross expansion of the federal government into every realm of life, economic growth, the flaccid foreign policy of the Obama administration, and the vain pursuit of “green” energy at the expense of abundant domestic oil and gas.

Americans are open to being persuaded that the federal behemoth can be tamed, that our health-care system can be saved before it buries us in red tape and incompetence, and that entitlements can be sensibly reformed. But they wouldn’t even hear those arguments from Rick Santorum. He’d be too busy putting Satan behind him."

End excerpt.

But that is demonstrably incorrect. Yes, people cannot be compelled to be moral, but our economic woes stem from an amoral worldview. Too many are quick to put their hands in the pockets of too many others in America. It's not just welfare, it's the culture of entitlement. Government has conditioned people into believing they have a right to the fruits of other people's labor. This philosophy runs rampant throughout the government, from welfare to the Department of Education, from school lunch programs to the Department of Agriculture. Why should coal miners in Pennsylvania pay farmers not to grow food? They do it because the federal government makes them, because the farmers want the steady flow of cash. Food prices are rising, and these same coal miners are paying more to eat while the farmers take and take. You really can't blame the farmers, because they, too, are paying for somebody else's subsidy. It's the culture of subsidization that is to blame, and THAT is a moral, not economic, problem. We can't fix our economic problems without addressing our moral ones.

The President can be a huge part of a solution to this breaking of the seventh and tenth Commandments; he can shut off the spigot. Without the cash flowing, people will rediscover their own moral character.

America is like a river, and the Left and their media allies are like the Army Corps of Engineers, erecting dams, levees, and other bullwarks to keep the river in a pre-planned channel. It requires constant labor on their part, because the river has a natural course it would flow if left alone. That labor is in the constant reinforcement by the press, but also by a host of cultural and educational institutions that place their message in all manner of things - movies, music, commercials, books, the internet. America is moving at odds to morality because it has been compelled to, twisted by a media that labors incessantly to channel the natural flow of thought. Breech those levees and the river will resume it's course. Americans know right from wrong, but have been confused by the endless drumbeat of liberalism in our schools, our press, our culture. While there are some things that cannot be stopped (such as the news media) the President has the power to dismantle many of these institutions by defunding them. Get rid of government programs and much of this would collapse of it's own weight.

This is a moral program.

Doesn't Charen see the connection between free contraception and the collapse of the two parent family? Surely she must understand that Obama's demand that insurance companies fund contraception is but another way to encourage more extramarital sex, which leads to a further erosion of the family!

Here Rick Santorum is uniquely positioned to act as an advocate for morality, to affect social values and promote sound economic policy at the same time.

The problem with people like Charen is that they do not understand the nature of the electorate. They think in terms of pure numbers; there are X amount of liberals (X because they deserve an x rating), Y amount of conservatives (Y for wise, or because we ask why?) and z amount of moderates (zzzzz). Charen and the Establishment types think the key is to coax the z's into voting for you. Romney's tax plan illustrated that perfectly; he offered a fairly nice across the board tax cut, but he HAD to defend progressivity in the tax code, and give the top people (who produce most of the nation's wealth) a smaller cut. That was done solely to offer a carrot to the z people, on the theory that he would get them to vote for him. But this fails to understand that using the left's own rhetoric means surrendering valuable yardage (to use a football metaphore) and to concede half the argument. Put it in military terms and it is as though the Union Army gave half of the mountains to Lee and the Confederates at Gettysburg because it was easier than defending those hills. When the Rebels charged Little Roundtop Chamberlaine could simply have retreated and fell back on a more easily defended position. That is essentially what the Establishment guys want us to do.

No. Political philosophy is dynamic, much like economic growth; feed it and it grows. The z's will warm to you if you present a positive, strong, confident message, and will walk away if they think you are just a politician trying to get their votes. Americans are crying for a genuine leader, not an artifact created in a boardroom somewhere. They THOUGHT that Barack Obama was one such, but learned he is nothing but a rubber mask. Bring forth a genuine man and the public will embrace him. Ronald Reagan illustrated that perfectly. Yes, Reagan was charming and witty, but that was not his strength; his strength was that he believed in Conservatism, and refused to be moved. Much ink has been spilled over the years about Reagan's popularity, but it is no more difficult to understand than that. He was a man who embodied traditional American values and refused to be moved by the corpsmen and their levees.

If given her way Charen will guarantee we lose. We may win the election, but we will lose the war, which is about saving America rather than any short-term political gain. George W. Bush should have shown us the problem with the Establishment thinking; Bush advanced certain conservative principles but he never went against the liberal orthodoxy. He gave us No Child Left Behind. He gave us a prescription drug entitlement. He gave us a massive growth in government, and ridiculous spending. He did this while tossing a few bones to conservatives, so we supported him. It was death by a thousand paper cuts. Electorally Bush was a disaster, with a steady bleeding of political power to the Democrats throughout his entire term. He ended as liberal as any president we have ever seen, making the insane statement that we must suspend capitalism in order to save it and bailing out the banks in an orgy of spending and government gone wild.

That is not the way.

Yet the Establishmentarians - even those on the right - think it IS the way, and they are determined to try this again. When has it worked? We have not had a true conservative president in office outiside of Ronald Reagan since Calvin Coolidge, and where has it gotten us? America has been on a long, agonizing slide, first in matters of morals and now economically (no surprise, given the linkage of the two). We are coming to the end, and we need more than just political fine tuning. We need a surgeon, and not an accupuncturist. The Tea Party knows this. Even the 99 centers understand this, although they stupidly want to double down on what has been killing us. Charen is advocating for an aspirin when we need heavy chemo.

It's time these old guard people retire. They know their time is past, and they are desperately clinging to their own positions, jealous of the new faces and voices coming out of the Tea Party and whatnot. They have all turned into Gerald Ford. They are looking to ride the tiger rather than tame it. They loathe and fear those warrior types who want to face the beast and stare it down. They would rather befriend it.

They aren't members of the Y's, but have largely joined the z's. They are asleep, and are angry someone wants to waken them from their slumber.

At San Jacinto the Mexican army was asleep when Sam Houston attacked, and the Napoleon of the West Santa Ana was engaged in congress with a half black slave girl (the Yellow Rose of Texas) and so all was lost - or at least Texas was lost. We need the wide awakes on duty, not those on siesta.

Charon was the boatman who ferried souls across the river Styx into Hades. Do we want to be in the same boat with Mona?

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