Peggy Noonan enthused about Barack Obama. That fact alone should disqualify her, in perpetuity, from use of the word “gravitas” when criticizing anyone–so easily ensnared by the superficial and glib is she.
Karl Rove couldn’t bring himself to craft a stragery to defend his boss, the abused George W. Bush, from the spurious attacks from the left. His narrow vision exposed the Congressional flank to a bloodbath in 2006. He is of the “compassionate conservatism” ilk who undermined the Republican brand that is yet to recover. And now, he’s saying who can and cannot win and paternally chiding candidates. Please.
These people deign to lecture me? To lecture you?
You know who is still not serious? The Democrats. The Press. And most gallingly, the Republican die-hards clinging to the last vestiges of their reputations; those who had kinder words for Barack Obama than for the average American who can see the blindingly obvious: America is in deep, deep economic trouble and the current folks in Washington still play like this is a game.
Strong words are aimed at Ben Bernake and Peggy Noonan, buddies with him no doubt (because really, who of import isn’t friends with Peggy Noonan), squeaks like she’s been goosed by the captain of the football team. “Why I never!” Yes, and you never will.
I have lost all hope that these folks care for anything more than the game that is Washington politics. Who’s in charge? Does he dress nicely? Is he well-spoken? Is he properly educated? Is he serious (code word for Ivy educated, silver tongued and bland)?
Never mind that the world is on fire. The economy is on the Tolkienian edge of the knife and our pundits and pointy heads are still obsessed with form?
But here’s my problem: I find the prospect of another four or eight years of defending these cultural distinctions to be intensely wearying.
My weariness is hardly a major consideration for anybody, but I think it reflects a larger problem. Conservatism is starting to have an identity-politics problem all its own. I think conservatism needs to spend less time defending candidates for who they are, and more time supporting candidates for what they intend to do.
Bush’s inability to articulate arguments had nothing to do with his Texan-ness or his Christianity, but a lot of folks on the right defended him as if that were the case. “He speaks American, don’t you get it?”
To which I’d reply: “No, he speaks badly.”
Jonah has a point. I loved and love George W. Bush even though I profoundly disagreed with him on some major points (NCLB, Dept. of Homeland Security, etc.). I loved the man. I just couldn’t listen to him. His speaking style, especially when more “prepared” drove me nuts. Off the cuff, such as when speaking at Ground Zero, he was better. And I’d read his speeches and be awed at the beauty of their words and then cringe in wonder when I heard them.
But you know what? I’ll take cringe-inducing speaking over smooth talking all day long. I’m beyond the leftists and their pointing and laughing. I can go another couple years, or decades, of good governance if I don’t have to endure bad ideas and smooth talk. Would I like good ideas and smooth talk? That would be nice, but the smooth talk is a helpful bonus.
The fact is, conservatism is coming in all sorts of forms these days. We don’t have an identity-politics problem. Look at our governors, Jonah. Rick Scott, John Kasich, Nikki Haley, Mitch Daniels, Sam Brownback, Rick Snyder, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Susana Martinez. Every single one of them, no matter how they speak, would be painted as a stupid rube by the left and media were he or she running for President. Need proof? Just look at the press coverage of them now, in their states.
We have a leftist and press problem. And we have big name Republicans like Noonan and Rove who end up aiding and abetting these folks with their focus on things that don’t matter.
The time for being swayed by the superficial is gone. I would vote for a bald, motorcycle riding Indiana governor. I would vote for an overweight, brash talking Jersey boy. I would vote for just about anyone willing to cut the government and take our economic woes and jobs despair seriously.
Get over the form. The next President better have substance. We’ve had three years of Barack Obama. That should inoculate anyone from the worries of being picked on for eight years by moronic Keynsians who sent America deeper into the morass.
It is the dawn of a new political day and I’m not sure many have caught up, yet.
Results matter. Go look to the states and look at the results of the policies of the states where the Governors supposedly lacking “gravitas” preside. Now look at what we have in the White House. Who has gravitas again?