"This nation has such elasticity, flexibility...you know, people you talk to abroad can't believe that the country that elected George Bush eight years ago has...shifted and is now electing Barack Obama, and they ask wh...what..how can...wh...how can you do that? And it's because we have an amazing ability in this country to learn, to change, and to give opportunity...and...um, and I think that that's what's going on here. We've already changed a lot and I think this is realy gonna make change come a lot faster in this country now. It's gonna speed it up."
--Gloria Borger, part of CNN's "best political team on television", election night
I'M not a world traveler, but I suspect that this is perhaps the one thing which most distinguishes Americans, apart from daily caloric intake: that we're the only people on earth whose political pundits could take a comment which obviously, and quite sensibly, questions the mass sanity of a country which could elect an inexcusable dipshit like George W. Bush, twice, and turn it into--all at the same time: 1) a compliment on our political perspicacity and capacity for "growth"; 2) a suggestion that our belated recognition of a total fucking disaster which was clear enough to the rest of the world four years ago, when it could have been eradicated by direct action, is a sign of some sort of unique political self-awareness; and 3) that the rest of the world is somehow astonished by the breadth of political expression in the Western democracy which is, or was, the most politically homogenous, excepting for the way the right end of its spectrum keeps falling off the table. Because, y'know, no one could possibly conceive of the French, or the Canadians, or the French-Canadians, electing a conservative or anything.
You may have heard that Slate, recent recipient of a layout rhinoplasty and, quite possibly, a bit o' the old lipo to that unsightly double-reverse-inside-out-contrarian-non-contrarianism--there's some unsightly bruising which we'd call tell-tale except that there's always some unsightly bruising at Slate, just like that wire basket on the kitchen counter where my Poor Wife puts fruit she then forgets about--has hosted this week a sort of Wither 'Conservatism'? seminar featuring the sort of back-bench you might be surprised to learn a decimated party would have left. Included are two--Christie Todd Whitman and Ross Douthat--who're already seasoned veterans at the How My Party Can Become More Like Me and Earn Fabulous Constituencies game, and one--Pepperdine Law Professor Douglas Kmiec--who was an announced Obama man. Slate also managed to land--talk about your journalistic coup!--Tucker Carlson, who apparently managed to find some free time somewhere, perhaps by reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Who Used To Have Careers or something. Tucker, the boilerplate at the bottom informs us, is now a commentator for Tina Brown's The Daily Beast, which all the kids are talking about. Talk about someone who's got to be brimming with advice on reanimating your flagging fortunes! And there's Jim Manzi, a member of that most favored of Republican clans, the Entrepreneurs, or, to put it another way, a guy who became CEO of a thriving company and managed to maneuver it into being taken over by a more successful company. Although in this case (Lotus) it also includes Previously Allowing Microsoft To Take Over The Market With A Tenth-Rate Copy of Your Product. I'm really not sure how Manzi has avoided being tapped to run Indiana's BMW at this point. He's identified as being a contributing editor of the National Review, meaning we still don't know just how many teats a sow can have.
Hopeful free-speech martyr Kathleen Parker is supposed to be joining the happy throng, but hasn't been spotted as of 7AM Friday.
Leave us remember, now, that these people represent, not just a party, and an ideology, which just this week was repudiated at the polls for a second consecutive election cycle, but one which has watched its entire stable of stalking horses (Defense, Economy, Competence, Morality, and Philosophical Purity) get chopped up, ground twice, canned and sold as dog food, and then learned it even makes dogs sick. Because you're not gonna be reminded of this by that panel as they swap recipes for horse chitterlings.
Maybe we should just run it down in order:
• Manzi: Create competition in education! Reconsider immigration!
• Kmiec: Vouchers! Tricky Rewording of Roe! Get Out of Iraq! Civil Rights!
[Yes, Get Out of Iraq! an idea so brilliant you have to wonder why no one thought of it before. By the way, for daring to suggest that the Party legislate that Life begins at conception but requires a "supermajority" to "defend" from "murder"--thereby graciously offering a face-saving compromise to the majority of Americans, who don't believe it, and have just return responsibility for creating legislation to people who don't, either--Kmiec is immediately taken out back and strung up with one of Todd Palin's returned neckties.]
• Douthat: Disentangle my own sensible desire to enact Federal Ovary Control legislation from the crackpot extremist stuff most Americans don't want.
• Whitman: We must find a way to promote principles of sound government which recognize that government can be a positive force for good in people's lives, while at the same time ensuring it never acts on any such ideas. Oh, and keep our winning coalition together!
• Carlson: There has to be something out there that can inspire irrational panic again. Think!
That's it. Really, that's it. After that they commence to fightin' over who's willing to compromise on abortion the least. Oh, an' how massive spending on defense contractors isn't a form of redistributing wealth, 'cause we get so much return there for other people's money. Like the ability to claim Ronald Reagan wiped out Communism.
[UPDATE: Parker appears, says that the high-minded ideals which put Reagan in office have been betrayed by promoting a high-profile, low-IQ, intellectually-incurious, telegenic ideological mouthpiece like Sarah Palin. And can't we find a way to keep that guy with the Obama Monkey Puppet out of camera range?]
Along the way, Whitman comforts the group--she's later seconded by Parker--with the notion that while Obama won big, a lot of his supporters don't really like him. "This is still a centrist country" sez Kathleen, before recommending a good healthy dose of the Olde Time Centrism of Reagan and Bill Fuhbuckley. It serves to remind us that at least one Obama voter--the one in their midst--appears to have been hallucinating some quid pro quo from the Democrats, abandoning base and principles to assuage the hurt feelings of educated 21st century elites trapped by 12th century theology who've seen their devotion to a single "moral" issue damn near crumble everything good about the country. And he's the sensible one.