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Much complained about every four years is the tendency of the media to play elections for the presidency as a horse race. There is reason for this. Exciting, colorful, horse races never fail to capture an audience. They have a winner and a batch of losers. But horse races always end. What the horse racing model of media coverage never does is illuminate the long-term success or failure of the underlying ideas at stake in the ever fluid, always forward-moving history of the American experience. But those ideas do win — and they do lose. One of the most continually defeated ideas that has appeared in American politics is that of weakness and appeasement in foreign policy. Whether it was the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, the two World Wars, the Cold War or Korea and Vietnam then or Iraq now, the American people do not take well to the idea of defeat. The ultimate if frequently ignored irony of 1968 is that the great “successes” of the anti-war movement of the 1960s had precisely the opposite effect intended. They not only elected Nixon, but between the votes provided Nixon and third party candidate (and pro-war candidate) Alabama Governor George Wallace, the anti-anti-war “silent majority” trounced the left 56.9% to 42.7%. The turmoil caused by the anti-LBJ zealots sealed the success of the American conservative movement for decades to come.
THE HAUNTING DILEMMA of LBJ’s ghost pervades the party he once dominated — and then lost. It is sighted in all those Iowa polls showing surges for Obama and Edwards at Clinton’s expense. It is sighted in a Connecticut Democratic senatorial primary defeat for Senator Joe Lieberman, the election of the anti-war Howard Dean as Democratic Party chairman, the insistence of Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid that the war is “lost.” Certainly it prowls LBJ’s one-time haunts on Capitol Hill with the constant attempts by Democrats in Congress to defund the war or withdraw the troops or set deadlines for withdrawals from Iraq. Every success of MoveOn.org or the Daily Kos summons forth LBJ’s ghost and its howling memories of anti-war activists like the late Allard Lowenstein or Abbie Hoffman or Jane Fonda’s ex-husband, leftist Tom Hayden.
The 2008 election will, as hard as it may seem at the moment, eventually be over. Less than a year from now, the horse race will be at an end. Someone will win, and someone will lose.
But the struggle for the soul of America’s oldest political party will continue. The fight that erupted over Lyndon Johnson’s view of the world will be refought all over again. And whether she wins or loses, Hillary Clinton is already well on her way to sharing LBJ’s distinctly unhappy political fate.
Whether she knows it or not, whether she understands it or not, Hillary Clinton is being haunted by LBJ’s ghost.
And so is her party.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online