My old friend Isaiah Treff once told me: "Jay, if you weren't such a wise guy you would be a wise man." That line applies today to the great Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, John F. Kerry, a man who nearly graduated from electoral college. Someone offered JFK a franc for his thoughts the other night, eliciting this bon mot: Get a good education so you don't get stuck in Iraq. Now Kerry's knowledge of French will sure come in handy; words like gaffe and faux pas and contretemps will figure prominently in conversations conducted behind his back. It's a regular cause celebre, you should excuse the expression.
JFK was given the chance to tow his marooned PT Cruiser off the shoals. Citizens being charitable and journalists being slavish, it would have been the work of an instant to apologize. Instead he showed a profile in courage. Courage to stand up to those Republican hacks; like Custer he would not sit still for their bull. Courage to stand up to that "stuffed suit," Tony Snow, in the starkest case of pot-kettle black calling since Paris Hilton called Lindsay Lohan a ditz. Courage to stand up to "doughy" Rush Limbaugh, who apparently managed to rattle Kerry with half his rabbit-foot tied behind is back.
So poor Kerry, Yale diploma and all, got stuck up on Iraq himself. As his advisers will tell him in French: "Oui bleu ette." Or as his wife will relegate him: "Oubliette." Not to mention the 57 varieties of spicy remarks she will tender his way. If the Democrats were really headed for Congressional victory a day ago, their chances have now sailed off on the swift boat to China.
TRUTH TO TELL, I find all this saddening. It is my fond, perhaps unrealistic, wish to live in a country with two sets of viable political ideas competing first intellectually, then electorally. This was said, in various overlong essays of turgid prose foisted upon us back in college days, to be the beauty of the two-party system. We took this to heart in our youth, if only in our effort to crash two parties a night. There were real debates in those days and the Democrats were often right on such things as the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.
Now, sadly, my job has become for the most part a no-brainer. While my Democrat friends tend to be well-meaning, nice people, they are represented in the political arena by a band of rapacious rapscallions. Their intellectual wing has also shut down, paralyzed by a weird cluster of alliances and prejudices. It is not merely true the Republicans are alone in promoting vibrant ideas at this time; it is so scarily true that it makes the Republicans wrangle among themselves just so they can have some sense of philosophical ferment.
Think about it. Left-wingers embraced a sort of free-love ideal in the '60s, originally out of a sort of science-trumps-morality logic, but now they have followed it to abortion as an inexorable destination -- to the point where the logic and science of the child's viability must be ignored. They accepted a model which identified religious Jews and Christians as the victims of a huge confidence game, rendering all the enthusiasms of such people suspect. Then along comes an attack from a quasi-theological force identifying the Judeo-Christian world as its target and leftists cannot work up the verve to join the fight for survival. The left agreed, based initially in philosophy, that all verity is nullity, and now cannot summon the moxie to do battle for the truth.
At this point I will let you in on a little secret, a powerful insight into the human personality. The fact is that a big part of the reluctance by Republicans earlier in this political season to vote for their own cause is wishful thinking that somehow a cleaner ideology will emerge from the destruction. Just as the Madeleine Albrights of the world are upset with America being the only superpower, some purist conservatives are upset with the Republicans being the only super-party. They fear the wrath of the Founding Fathers, who sought to foster an atmosphere of rational ratiocination.
Instead we get this. The Democrat Party are snobs, solons in salons, calling the Republicans slobs. Their books have no ideas, just analysis of how Karl Rove gulls naive rubes in revival tents into voting against their true interests. Books with titles like "The Haecceity of the Hayseed"; or, "What Makes Hicks Tick." One party has the condescension while the other is in the ascension. One party does the patronizing while the other has the patrons. It's not my fault if my side wins by default. It's my party that has the ideas and I'll cry if I want to.
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