Maybe it was just that 1/20th of a second, but Barack Obama looks really, really tired. Perhaps his facial muscles aren’t used to his new “fuck it, we’ll do it live” approach to governing. Since the 2014 election, when Democrats across the country ran from his agenda and lost anyway, the president has both embraced bold action and reaped the benefit of long-term policies. The stock market is at an all-time high, he has outperformed Reagan on job growth—or not, depending on whom you ask—and his approval rating now approaches that of Reagan in his sixth year. Ronald Reagan! The greatest president in American history, provided you pieced together American history from Sarah Palin speeches. But I presume conservatives will rally behind Obama now, since the indicators suggest they should.
To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, some people see things as they are and ask why; others see things as they never were and ask why the media is lying. The world of theory is invariably preferable to the world of, you know, the world. We derive our broad principles from the specific around us, but explicit language feels more concrete and understandable—more true—than the details. So after we extrapolate our theories and take them to heart, we return to the real and identify the places where it doesn’t match theory as flaws. Today is Friday, or at least it should be, and anyone who tells me otherwise has screwed up the progression of days. Won’t you demand that the flesh be made word with me?
I put little stock in the interpretation of dreams. I also reject the notion that people say what they really think when they’re drunk, that Freudian slips are bursts of honesty, and that the true mind of the Republican Party is expressed at its fringes. The Tea Party and Infowars.com do not tell us what conservatism has been thinking all along. They tell us what we have been thinking of conservatism all along. Like dreams, the communications of America’s resurgent right are notable for their disconnection from reality, not their insight into it. If you would like to glimpse a veritable Neverland, check out Mark Judge’s call for conservatives to embrace rock and roll. It is two years old and utterly irrelevant, like your recurring nightmare about getting an erection during swim lessons, but it is affecting nonetheless, like same. Insane quote after the jump.
Remember yesterday, when we mentioned the ideological purity test that has become so popular among Republicans? Of course you don’t. Just because you’ve forgotten doesn’t mean that it ceased to exist, though, or that it didn’t recently vindicate perennial victim Meghan McCain. The latest entity to unjustly persecute Me-Mac—after Michelle Malkin, Karl Rove’s Twitter account, and her own boobs—are the George Washington University College Republicans, who recently pulled their sponsorship of her upcoming campus speaking engagement. According to McCain, it’s because her support for marriage equality violates one of the tenets of Republican purity, although it might also be because she’s an idiot. The GW College Republicans can all go sit in their Audis and eat dicks now, though, because Meghan McCain took the purity test, and she totally passed! First of all, if you want to talk ideology with Meghan McCain, it’s best to present it in a form that she already understands from Facebook. Second of all, despite being proud of her ideological purity, Me-Mac is sick of all the labels. Her planned speech at GW promises to induce confused grimaces right from the title, which is “Redefining Republican: No Labels, No Boxes, No Stereotypes.” See, Meghan McCain thinks beyond words like [actual words not supplied] when she thinks about what words like “conservative” and “Republican” mean. As she points out, that puts her in a hunted minority, since “apparently some student organizations feel more comfortable being able to group all Republicans into one place.” You know, like a political party.
Students of history—particularly my students of history—will remember Ronald Reagan’s genius unification of the Republican Party during the 1980 election. Through sheer strength of charisma and occasionally insane rhetoric, Reagan consolidated three fundamentally disparate groups—old-time political conservatives, the nouveau riche, and church people—into what we now recognize as the contemporary GOP. Those of us who grew up under Reagan tend to take this alliance for granted, but it wasn’t always so. For most of the twentieth century, evangelical Christians were a reliable constituency of the Democratic Party, and the newly wealthy were anybody’s guess. The Great Communicator’s success as a politician, if not as a President, was his ability to describe the Republican agenda in terms these three groups understood. Hence the Evil Empire speech, in which the principle feature of communism is the abolition not of private property but of religion. “I would rather see my little girls die now, still believing in God, than have them grow up under communism,” sounds like an utterly bonkers thing for the President of the United States to say into a microphone, but that microphone was provided by the National Association of Evangelicals. When he spoke to the Club For Growth, it was all tax cuts and welfare queens, and when he spoke to the hawks in Congress, it was the Strategic Defense Initiative. All of it boiled down to one easily digestible GOP platform, and there lied the genius of Ronald Reagan.