Monday, February 09, 2004

Let's be serious

I think that is a good way to think about who to vote for in the upcoming elections.... by asking the question "Who is serious?" Roger Simon, the playwrite, life-long liberal Democrat and popular blogger, looked at John Kerry and much to my delight made the following observation:
"We live in serious times and this is, despite his fancy suits and seeming gravitas, a fundamentally unserious person. I don't trust him at the controls.

Good for Roger. I couldn't agree more, and I extend that view to the entire field of Democratic candidates. Their is something incredibly unserious about the way they ALL have trashed Bush, taken more positions on the war than than could possibly exist, excite crowds with anger and hatred (I will exempt Lieberman and to some extent, Edwards, from that last one) and generally play the "Dean" card. I just don't believe them and fear that it will be business as usual with any of them in the White House. No more plain, straight talk. Back to nuanced, multi-lateral, moral equivocal and ambiguous bullshit. More "I met the enemy, and it is us" crap.

But when I read a guy like Simon, that gives me hope. And when I read Our Man Hitchens, I get simply giddy. He was asked by Slate magazine "Whom should the Democrats nominate?". His essay is simply a delight to the serious-minded. And to that point, he has words of advice for Democrats:
"Party-mindedness is an enemy in itself, if only because it makes intelligent people act and think stupidly. But the belief in the candidate's "program" is hardly less of a trap. I hate to say it, but a successful contender for office can change his mind on, say, universal health care. What he cannot change is his personality. If he's a money-grubbing, narcissistic, and approval-seeking psycho at the start, he will not doff these qualities in the Oval Office. One ought therefore to begin by eliminating all those who are running for some kind of therapeutic or Oedipal reason. (This doesn't cost much: It would only have deprived us of Kennedy, Nixon, Hart, and Clinton in the recent past, and superior candidates from both parties were readily available in all those instances.)

One Dean he says:
"I claim no prescience for predicting the implosion of Howard Dean: He was obviously very lucky to get as far as the governorship of Vermont. A man who will say anything to any audience if he thinks it will raise the roof is a candidate to be shunned: It should have been all over when he trashed his Hippocratic oath to invent a story about an incest victim from his physician's office. Think of all the money he raised and squandered: It would have been far better spent donated to the reconstruction of Iraq. His entire campaign was, to borrow one of his sillier slogans, a distraction from the hunt for al-Qaida."

On Clark:
"But there's something bizarre about a conceited man in uniform who now can't remember which regime-change he favored or why, which party he belongs to, or which "faith-based" community he espouses. He also has a weakness for half-cooked conspiracy stories and gets snappish when he's questioned on the last weird thing he said. Again, beware of those who run to pacify their internal demons."

On Kerry he saves his best:
"John Kerry should decide whether he's a moral hero for fighting in a futile and filthy war against the Vietnamese revolution, or for protesting against that war. Can I guess from his demeanor which of the two was his "noble cause"? No. Shouldn't I know by now? Yes, I should, since it's not evident at this relatively late date whether or not he's proud of voting to remove Saddam Hussein. As with most senior Democrats, Kerry's revolving-door record with lobbyists and donors is one to make Cheney and Bush look like amateurs."

He actually likes Edwards, who has known for awhile and believes is serious. He even says that an Edwards-Kerry ticket is the best of the mix since it would at least be made of serious people. I don't know about that (or I find it irrelevant since unless the people at the top are serious, the other serious people tend not to matter much), but liked that he hedged himself by saying that Edwards would have to be the head of the ticket in order for him to find it appealing. Nonethless, he comes out with his own view, in case as he put it, anyone was interested:
"I'm a single-issue person at present, and the single issue in case you are wondering is the tenacious and unapologetic defense of civilized societies against the intensifying menace of clerical barbarism. If in the smallest doubt about this, I would suggest a vote for the re-election of George Bush, precisely because he himself isn't prey to any doubt on the point. There are worse things than simple mindedness—pseudo-intellectuality, for example. Civil unions for homosexuals, or prescription-drug programs, are not even going to be in second or third place if we get this wrong. And presidents can't make much difference to the stock market or the employment rate or to income distribution. But they can and must uphold their oath to defend the country. So, having said that "issues" are only tangential to campaigns, the best estimate I can make is one about the seriousness of individuals. I was open-mouthed at the idea that anyone would even consider entrusting the defense of the United States and its Constitution to Howard Dean, but that problem appears to have taken care of itself, even if only through the sort of voter-intuition that one is ultimately forced to recommend. Make up your own mind, is my own best recommendation, and put "electability" (once a Dean property, for heaven's sake) to one side."

Yep. Read the man.


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