Writing a weekly column for the Bonanza plus a bi-weekly piece on TahoeTicker.com and frequent pieces on Huffington Post, I'm normally hungry for things to write about and scour the local, state, and national news to find items that can stimulate a column in one place or another.
So you'd think that in a week like we just had I'd be happy as a dog that fell into a bowl of gravy. We have Rudi Giuliani (Mister noun, verb, 9/11) saying there were no terrorist attacks on Bush's watch, we have McCain's campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, revealing that La Palin pulled "can I call you Joe?" because she couldn't be trusted to get his name right (and with that still referred once in the debate to "Senator O'Biden), RNCC Chair Michael Steele having a meltdown in his relationship with the party, and more.
All that ought to be great column fodder – I could probably do columns in all three places and not run out of material, and for local color there are the several emails I get each week that state with unwavering certainty that the IB program is a Communist plot, as well as those that are certain it's a violation of church/state separation because it must be religious – after all, it's called Baccalaureate!
So when I sat down to write on this foggy Saturday afternoon it was with a certain sense of anticipation – glee, even. But then, as so often happens to what used to be called "ink-stained wretches," I went blank. If you know me at all you know I'm not often at a loss for something to say, so this struck me as odd. It wasn't that I couldn't decide which of the low-hanging fruit to pick, it was that none of it interested me all that much – it was all too easy – if I might mix metaphors (and kingdoms) it was like shooting fish in a barrel.
The Right in this country is just making it too easy. When Cheney says that the President refuses to use the term "war," or Mary Matalin says he refuses to use the word "terror" and then TV shows run clip after clip of the President using both those terms as far back as the campaign and as recently as last week, when Giuliani makes a statement so egregiously stupid, when the infighting is so blatant and petty as that between Schmidt and Palin or between Steele and almost everybody, it takes all the fun out of it.
Come on, you Righties, stop stealing my job! Stop making it so easy. With Goldwater, Reagan, even Nixon, heck, even McCain, there was at least intellectual challenge. You had to think, to reason, to marshall arguments and evidence. With you guys it's like beating up the wimpy kid on the playground – you can do it, but there's no satisfaction in it and it leaves you feeling uneasy about yourself.
The right wing of the Republican party seems intent on making itself just as irrelevant as Trotskyites on the left did in the '30s, and the cause is the same – a demand for strict, blind adherence to an ideology that is intellectually bankrupt and maintains itself by insisting on its theoretical underpinnings even when they are shown to be inaccurate and corrupt. So we are presented with the spectacle of people simultaneously calling Obama a Communist, a Socialist, and a Nazi, with an insistence that anything the government does is bad while accepting Social Security and Medicare, just to name a couple.
And I predict we'll see it locally when someone has the temerity to suggest that, to survive as a community will require things like affordable housing, the development of an economic infrastructure that will support middle and working class residents, and, yes, an educational program in the schools that will attract people to the community.
Please – where is the 21st Century's William Buckley? Where is someone who will present a conservative philosophy that doesn't depend on "it's so because I say it's so" and third grade level logic? They must be out there – I know intelligent people who are social conservatives, economic conservatives, or even who are both, and who are embarrassed by the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, et al., but who, like the great mass of Muslims, who are good, intelligent people, have allowed a few self-proclaimed ideological purists to cow them into silence. Meanwhile, I guess shooting fish in a barrel is better than not fishing at all.