Sunday, March 8, 2009

Heroes & Villains

The recent frenzied search for a Republican Messiah has reached the very bottom of the barrel, only to reveal that it's a Messiah-free barrel (Jindal: no style; Rush: no substance . . . and most likely no soul). I honestly don't think there's any use in continuing the search. What are they hoping to find, the next Ronald Reagan? I've got news for the GOP: Ronald Reagan was an aberration.

The Republican Party doesn't thrive on its heroes. Can anyone name a single Republican superstar in the last 20 years? Rudy? W? H. W.? Rush? Newt? Ah-nold? If politics were American Idol, all of these guys would rank somewhere between William Hung and Bucky Covington (with nary a Sanjaya in the bunch). But that's okay. Superstars don't make good conservatives. Rallying dreams and stirring up hopes just isn't . . . Republican.

The superstar is primarily, though not exclusively (see Reagan), the Democrats' shtick. Obama. Bill. Hillary. Pick a Kennedy . . . any Kennedy. Somehow Al Gore, the Human Yawn, even managed to achieve superstar status in defeat, no less. The Democrats live in Hollywood, where anybody has a shot at worldwide fame. The Republicans live on Wall Street, where even the most successful studs amount to little more than rich nobodies. The most famous Republicans enter the conversation when they screw up, speak up, or otherwise stir up some controversy. The hotshot Dems never seem to leave the conversation. (Can we really go a week without Bill giving the world a coy wink from just below some major headline just to let us all know he's still relevant?)

Whereas the Democrats thrive on personality (and cozy notions like hope, compassion, and justice), the Republicans deal in a currency of fear. Let's be honest, they're more concerned about what we should not do and what we can't let happen. Let's not screw up. Let's not let democracy die. Don't let the terrorists--or the socialists--win. They don't need a hero, no sir. The Republicans need an enemy they can believe in.

Thank God for the Soviets. They kept the GOP united and strong for the better part of a century. Jimmy Carter and the Ayatollah teamed up to launch Reagan into unprecedented Republican stardom. Roe v. Wade cemented the Republican Party's place as the only evangelical option. Saddam Hussein gave two Bushes more than their fair share of the limelight. Heck, the fear of Osama bin Laden dealt W the win over Kerry when simple statistics show that Bush probably received votes from a few million people who thought he was doing a bad job as president (I know he got at least one). And if Rush Limbaugh were to be honest (which would require elephantine doses of narcotics) he would tell you that he owes his entire career to the Clinton presidency . . . and he must also credit his recent resurgence in infamy to the rise of Obama. (Honestly, other than the revelation of his addiction and hearing loss, I can't remember hearing a single thing about his political views during the Bush years. . . . I suppose there was the whole feud with Al Franken, but I always considered that to be more of a suppressed homo-erotic version of a David Addison/Maddie Hayes will-they or won't-they dramedy--I mean, seriously guys, get a room.)

Forget the myth of finding the next great Republican leader. What the Republicans really need is a quality enemy, and they don't really have one. Right now it's Obama's brand of socialism, a truly pathetic foil. Wishing doom upon his economic policies is the political equivalent of cheering for Osama's escape during the Bush years (which, if the Dems did, they did so privately). This is precisely why Limbaugh is praying for failure. For him and his party to succeed, he needs some truly juicy object of hatred and fear to arise from the liberal ooze. 

My advice: don't wish for it to come from Obama. Sit back, smile, and moderately applaud as his supporters sing "Obama Bless America" on the steps of Congress. Give the Dems this moment, Republicans, and you'll come off looking like gracious losers, team players, and unified patriots. Meanwhile, set your sights on Congress. Good lord, they're all so inept, you really shouldn't have to look hard to find someone doing something awful. Don't waste your time battling someone viewed as a Messiah. It's much easier to attack a Judas.

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