Friday, October 12, 2012

The Debates: A Word to You Liberals

I guess that it was good for liberals to have Joe Biden throw out some red meat last night, on the 47 percent and all.

So Joan Walsh gets to write that "Biden Wiped the Floor with Biden" in Salon.  In reply, Rush Limbaugh this morning said that Ryan's performance was rather like a son trying to deal with the embarrassing behavior of his blustery father.

But think of this.  In two straight debates the Democrats have allowed Romney and Ryan to speak directly to the moderates while they have been speaking to their base.  A week ago the president just emitted his usual base-pleasing platitudes.  Last night Joe Biden played the angry old white man.

Wait a minute.  I thought that the Republican Party was supposed to be the party of angry old white men.

Now, either we have here a strategic error of monumental proportions or we have something worse.  We have the fact that the Democrats don't have their base nailed down.

The experts tell us that the independents and women hate the partisan bluster and name-calling.  Or at least they tell us that when Republicans refuse to do the decent thing and cave to a Democratic initiative.

My guess is that the conventional wisdom isn't quite true.  Voters don't want politicians to be angry until they are angry.  Then and only then do they want anger in politics.  Liberals were angry about the results of the first debate, so they wanted Joe Biden to be angry about Romney's 47 percent remark.  I'd say, on the other hand, that liberals are angry about the 47 percent remark because it came a bit close to home.  Liberal politics does encourage dependency.

In any case, suppose you were an independent voter, the classic kind that doesn't pay much attention to politics, but you are concerned this fall about the direction of the country.  You've seen two debates thus far in which the Republican candidates seem to have developed thoughtful ideas about governing the nation in the next four years.  What are they to think about the Democratic candidates?  President Obama appeared to be in a supercilious sulk, and Vice-President Biden seemed to be channeling Willy Loman.  You almost expected him to blurt out "Attention must be paid."

Yes.  Willy Loman.

Could it be that we are approaching Death of a Salesman for liberals?  Somehow the old charm, the old success has gone.  Liberals are sitting at the bar staring at their beers wondering what went wrong.  And they are angry.

Now, of course, the received opinion on Arthur Miller's famous play is that it is monstrous for society to treat an old guy like that, deceive him with the salesman culture of charm and manipulation.  After all, we know that the success culture is all an illusion.

Maybe liberalism is like that.  For decades liberals have lived a fantasy, and now, as their movement has aged, the fantasy is collapsing into failure and anger and ruin.

So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut would say.

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