We thought we had some breaking news. Shortly after the calamitous November 4 elections, the Washington Post quoted a top aide as telling a key Washington-based leader, “I said you need to accept blame. You need to be accountable for your actions. You need to be responsible. And he said, ‘You know what, I understand those things, I want to do those things, and that’s what I’ll work on doing.’”
Except, it turns out, the blame accepter wasn’t our nation’s president. He was the Washington Redskins’ beleaguered quarterback, Mr. RGIII. He takes a beating every Sunday of the sort our president experienced on Election Day. For the record, that’s two midterms in a row our man has failed. Once again we see why he has never released his college records.
We’ve learned a few more things about him in the wake of Shellacking II. Unlike the friendly Mr. RGIII, he’s the sorest of losers. No post-game whirlpools for him. Instead of the quicky domestic political tour on the day after, he fled Washington as soon as possible, ending up in Beijing, dressing in Red Guard threads, gingerly tiptoeing around Mr. Putin, and chewing gum much to his hosts’ disgust. There’s nothing left for him now except to remain the Defiant One, churlish and small, eager to hoist himself atop his own petard of executive orders. One small consolation might have been the District of Columbia’s passage of marijuana legalization. He’ll enjoy living in Choom Gang country again. And this time it’ll be legal.
It won’t be any consolation to him, but we have some problems of our own. This is the first time I’ve written an introduction to an issue that was ready for release well over a month ago but for reasons affecting many a print publication these days couldn’t be published on actual pages and after considerable delay is now being released in digital form only. There’s no substitute for print, even though our website remains ever vibrant and vitally important. Let me note nonetheless that three of my favorite pieces in this issue remain timely. Grover Norquist filed his story in late August, explaining why Scott Walker and Sam Brownback had to win re-election. Reading it today (p. 49) one marvels not only at Grover’s prescience but at how he undresses the dominant media narrative about the two governors’ chances. Grover knows how to win—which is something conservatives and Republicans could improve on. As Steve Moore notes
(p. 43), internal divisions may be the main problem the right currently faces. To many true believers, one cannot be right-wing enough, and woe to him who isn’t. Many a good Republican these days has for all intents been decertified as a conservative. How can such a not-conservative-enough-for-me function if he’s having to spend half his time looking over his right shoulder? Plus it poisons our politics and decivilizes our activity. It’s not a game if according to newly imposed rules it’s one strike and you’re out. Which, incidentally, doesn’t let snooty moderates off the hook at all. If they’re so superior, shouldn’t they be above snobbery?
Luckily it’s still America, the land of the second chance. Will Rick Perry get his? In the hands of the excellent (and rising) young writer Jon Cassidy (p. 22), he’s a subject well worth pondering, warts and all. Four years ago there was a certain inevitability to a Perry presidency. Because, as we know, history doesn’t repeat itself, this time around his chances might actually look better.
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