It is something of a cliche to say this, admittedly, but is there any shameless sentimentality to which liberals will not swoop? The gun-owning, church-going family men whom the Democrats despise are suddenly the objects of their deepest attention.
How better do this than insist on how we are all together under God? But let’s be clear: God is for doing the Democratic thing, telling people how to run their bitter and embittered lives! A textbook case of trying to be all things to all voters and showing especially how superior you are to them occurred during the discussion the other night at Pennsylvania’s Messiah College. The Democratic contenders were asked to talk about “faith and compassion” and how religion informed their careers.
Now both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are, basically, democratic socialists. To different degrees they acknowledge that, as a practical matter, forcing people to be happy or at least secure means exactly that, forcing them. This is an arguable, even respectable, position. Mrs. Clinton, whose political background suggests she has thought this through more thoroughly than Mr. Obama, stated quite happily that it is the Christian thing to put government to work in succoring the poor. This is a perfectly ordinary Christian Socialist view and would not be controversial in a European political debate of the past two hundred years. But the past two hundred years also show it is a rare politician indeed, Christian or not, who resists feeling contempt for voters who in effect become his wards.
Some say Obama is indeed a bridge builder to those whom the Democrats always claim to represent yet invariably seem to alienate: “Obama…has spent his life building bridges to assemble a coherent identity. Only by uniting disparate threads could he become whole as Barack Obama in a world experienced as defined by divergent truths.”
This statement, by the normally sober NYTimesman Roger Cohen, is egregious liberal sentimentality, dripping with corny abstractions.
The boiler-plate phrase “bridge builder” brings to mind Hilton Kramer’s comment to his editorially centrist rival at Harper’s, Lewis Lapham: “If you straddle fences, you will get hurt in sensitive places.” (True, this was editorial strategy, not politics, which requires compromise or at least negotiation.) As for disparate threads, a leader is someone who discards the one that does not pass through the eye of the needle, and who knows a true fact cannot be itself and its opposite.
However, why is it that as soon as he plays hardball, a pol gets mugged (as often as not, as in this case, by his own side), and retreats to his handlers for some sensitivity cues? Senator Obama made a statement altogether in line with his point of view, at least as it emerges from his own record. Sen. Obama is not a man who spent his time, either in the Illinois legislature or the Federal one, building bridges, or tying disparate threads, whatever this mixture of metaphors may mean in Mr. Cohen’s two-tone mind. By all accounts he was partisan and a down-the-line party man. And what is wrong with that? We live in a democracy; it is not as if he robotically followed the marching orders of some Gauleiter or Commissar. He voted liberal because he is a liberal. He built bridges, if you must, to liberaldom — where else?
So, yes, I would expect Mr. Obama to oppose private gun ownership, even for shooting doves. I would expect him to be distrustful, and perhaps more than a little contemptuous, of the kinds of blue collar church going family men (and women) that were portrayed in the little Pennsylvania town in The Deer Hunter, arguably one of the best films made about the American working class and only incidentally a war movie, though misunderstanding it — or understanding it all too well — Jane Fonda very publicly heaped venom on it at the time of its release.
Democrats want their constituents on the plantation. Indeed, Senator Clinton allowed as much during the discussion, as she has on other occasions, by underscoring that her party has been misperceived by Senator Obama’s embittered voters. What she cannot accept is that she misunderstands the voters, or simply disagrees with them. Both senators made great professions of humility regarding their relation to the Almighty, assuring their listeners they “do not presume” (their words, both) to know his mysterious ways, then going on to tell us they know the Supremo wants them to…use less electricity (Mrs. Clinton) as a way of cooling the planet, or to…continue President Bush’s policy (Mr. Obama) of fighting tropical diseases.
Observe that neither candidate offered the reflection that Christianity is a religion of individual freedom, with all the awesome implications this idea carries. Nonetheless, guns and homes and families are foremost concerns of free men, even embittered ones.
By coincidence, there was some kind of fundraiser for Comedy Central on a next-door channel, and when I could not stand any more of the Democratic Elmer Gantry look-alike contest, I spent a few moments trying to see what the fuss there was about. Jon Stewart, the news anchor, introduced a comedian, a certain Sarah Silverman, I think, who began singing Amazing Grace. After a stanza that I am quite sure was off-key, she placed the mike, while continuing the hymn, in front of her zipper (she was wearing masculine blue jeans).
I turned off the TV, surprised at my own shock. But afterwards it occurred to me, no real consolation here, that at least this person was not faking anything.
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