Jan 31 2008

What Happens When Political Actions Don’t Impress, They Embarrass?

Published by at 9:44 am under 2008 Elections,All General Discussions

It has been a stunning couple of years to watch the GOP and Democrat parties disintegrate into rabid hyper-partisanship and cut throat (and can we just admit it – juvenile) tactics. I have seen the meltdown of our supposed leaders, transforming them from people who impress to people who are an embarrassment. The mood of the country is shifting and some people are just not able to adapt or control their frustration and temper (I have sadly moved Mark Levin into the mad-hatter category with Michael Savage because of his inability to adjust to a more centrist GOP). The Anchoress asked today what is wrong with the world. My way too long answer (below the fold) is ‘the world is actually righting its wrongs”.

Victor David Hanson sets the stage so much better than I ever could (and prompted this post):

After Barack Obama’s unexpected surge in Iowa, Bill and Hillary Clinton resorted to chewing him up through their trademark politics of personal destruction. Thanks to Clinton Inc., we now hear almost daily that Obama is inspirational but inexperienced, that he had admitted to drug use, that his middle name is Hussein, that he really was not against the Iraq war, that he consorts with Chicago slumlords, that he spins fairy tales, and that he likes Ronald Reagan.

Liberal spectators were bewildered not so much at the familiar Clinton knee-in-the-groin, but that it would be turned on one of their own good guys – and a young, soft-spoken and idealistic African-American at that!

Suddenly, “shocked” Democrats cried foul and recalled the tawdry pardons, impeachment and the tainted Clinton of the 1990s – not the rehabilitated Bill who helps tsunami victims and presides over the Clinton Global Initiative.

Bill, as our first “black” president, had encouraged identity politics among a collective black electorate, so why was he angry that African-Americans might vote collectively for Obama?

In reaction to McCain’s own surge and the Republican windfall, the conservative base went ballistic. Soon a Republican civil war broke out over how best to lose the election.

Despite McCain’s 82 percent ranking by the American Conservative Union, and his support for balanced budgets, an end to pork-barrel spending and earmarks, strong support for the war, and expressed regret over once supporting the Bush illegal immigration reform package, McCain was branded by the conservative media as a sellout and a near liberal. Not to mention, he was supposedly too old and hot-tempered to be the Republican nominee. The more McCain was discovered not to be a perfect conservative, the more he was accused of not even being a good one.

What does this all mean? Well the American people are leading the surge away from the hyper-partisans and the muck-raking, purity wars. Not only were the parties raging against each other – they had turned on the moderate middle and attacked with visceral hate towards anyone who could ‘sell out’ and reach compromise. And of course the support for both sides of the aisle tanked as each end of the spectrum tried to see who could denigrate the midstream voters the most.

But the American middle is not controlled by the hyper-partisans and does not take direction from them (contrary to what the hyper-partisans think of course, they are naturally practically perfect in every way). The middle tolerates their excessiveness and takes the good they have to offer and makes it possible through compromise, while they partisans complain they did not get all they wanted. So in response to all the denigrating, name calling and screaming – the moderates dumped the hyper-partisans.

It began with Joe Lieberman in CT when that state – very democrat – rejected the hyper-partisan Dem Ned Lamont for the moderate (e.g., “traitor”) and independent Senator Lieberman. It continued on as George Allen and Rick Santorum and host of other strong conservatives were replaced by more moderate democrats who straddled the center line of politics. And it continues on today with McCain leading the GOP contest, causing all sorts of emotional breakdowns on the right, and Obama on the verge of ending the divisive and destructive (to the dems) Clinton era.

I honestly think the left is more prepared for the new centrist future. I have watched people I once respected (to varying levels, but never exalted) just have meltdowns when their worldview stopped being popular. This includes Peggy Noonan, just about everyone at NRO, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingrahm, Michelle Malkin, Mark Levin and more. To varying degrees they have lost it and are just going crazy.

If you want to listen to the worst example tune into Mark Levin’s radio show. Last night he only had demeaning insults for those who he disagrees with. He lashed into McCain so much it was as if you wanted to put the guy on suicide watch. It was terrible. At one point he said that if you don’t like Rush or him or others just turn the channel. I did. I will go back to listen, but not to hear a respected voice, but to watch someone commit such a massive public humiliation of himself. I listen now and am thankful I have not succumbed to partisan madness.

What happens when political actions stop impressing and become embarrassing instead? Most Americans are turned off and tune out. The far right is screaming it is their right to say what they want in the public square. Well, yes of course! It is a right, I believe, to go into the public square and pick your nose, but it does not impress people. Because you can do something doesn’t mean you should or that it is good to do.

If you find something you are doing is easy and primarily satisfying to yourself then it is likely of little value to the general population. We can all do that. If your actions are wildly focused on making you feel better, you can figure it could easily drift into something more embarrassing than impressive. If one’s actions requires sacrifice and means you do something for someone else as well yourself, then it has the potential to be of value and others may take interest.

Once the line from impressive to embarrassing is crossed it takes years to recover the damaged image. Some will never recover. This is an interesting year, where I think both sides are beginning to warm to the centrist candidates and could crossover with ease. I know people on the right who could go Obama if the GOP candidate falters or something. And I bet there are people on the left who would vote McCain just to end the Bush-Clinton-Bush feud.

But the other thing they have in common is they have turned their backs on the hyper-partisans, who do nothing but insult them anyway for being willing to keep an open mind. And that my friends is probably over 40% of the country who are a combination of centrists (or outright independents) and who are not political junkies. The blogosphere and AM talk radio brought together the large community of political junkies who are, by their nature, probably closer to hyper-partisans than average Americans. Talk Radio and political blogosphere sometimes forget they are not a majority but a micro-minority that was starting to gain the ear of America. My feeling is many Americans, who are not hyper-partisans, have started to turn away from these media because they are repulsed, embarrassed or simply tired of being insulted.

And maybe that is the lesson being taught this year. When people lend the mantle of wisdom to you and you become a ‘leading voice’ in America it may be wise to remember whom it is you rant against when things don’t go your way. You may be ranting against those who lent you vaulted position – and who have the power to take it back with their free market right to chose.

19 responses so far

19 Responses to “What Happens When Political Actions Don’t Impress, They Embarrass?”

  1. kathie says:

    All that is true AJ, but I still don’t like John McCain, and I consider myself a centrist.

  2. AJStrata says:


    You know he is not my choice either. But then again we all have to deal with the results of the purity wars and what they unleashed. McCain or Clinton is easy.

    There are no other choices out there really. Choosing Romney is like giving the Dem a free pass to the WH (he doesn\’t do well under pressure).


  3. kathie says:

    I know you are right, McCain is the only choice against a Dem if he gets the nomination. Maybe I just don’t like politicians……last nights performance by McCain I thought was arrogant, belligerent, didactic, and a little Sainthood, alot Sainthood. Yes I would vote for him if I had no other choice.

  4. Klimt says:

    I am having problems with McCain’s character flaws. I don’t think he is a stand up guy; I see him as a dirty politician on Hillary’s level. I think Obama has a stronger character and shows more leadership.

    If it comes down to McCain and Hillary and then he was my vote — no doubt. The good thing about McCain is that he may only serve one term due to his age or health problems… that’s the best part.

    My main issue with McCain is his character.

  5. MerlinOS2 says:

    All this illustrates is exactly what I have been saying all along the extreme left dragged to goal posts so far and fast that the new middle ground is somewhere just about where the old classic dems were.

    Now Kos claims he is the new mainstream. Most would say no until they read some of the blogs that make him look like a conservative comparatively.

    Lamont was their boy and he is allying with several other left side blogs to put together a ‘progressive’ ticket of candidates.

    Lamont 2.0 and their slate is now about 25 or more in number.

    Well even if some on the right are to loud and whatever on this whle mess. I for one will not be leaving, since I am firmly grounded in the conservative principles.

    For those who want to create the ‘new conservative party’ , find do the right thing and be honest and make your own and don’t try to hijack ours for your purposes.

    It is wrong to react in such a way to the extremism on the left that was already rejected with the Kos/Dean coalition that was only used by the DNC to get back in power.

    They are being kicked to the curb and marginalized now, which is part of the reason prompting their own slate of candidates. They are tired and angry and their years of BDS has worn them down.

    Conservatism should stand on it’s principles, we will weed out the worst of our own , we have done it in the past and we will do it again.

    The instant gratification middle can’t notice or grasp that concept.

  6. MerlinOS2 says:

    I always wonder about those who say they hate what they were hearing from such and such any more and so forth.

    That is part of the purging process I just mentioned. All you have to do is turn them off. Someone got you chained the the radio or that podcast.

    And it was so nice to see 17% of the independents dragging their hero John Mc into the winners circle and thats one few if any here like.

    Well I guess that ‘new republican party’ might not be such a pretty bells and rainbows place after all.

    Me I’ll buy stock in Orville Redenbacher kick back and point and laugh at all the antics.

    I have seen this show before and I really don’t like re runs.

  7. MerlinOS2 says:

    As far as Savage goes, he is the Carvell / Begalla of the right side. The guy probably believes only 1/100th of what runs out of his mouth.

    It’s just like those late night radio UFO shows that know their niche market and play to it and take on all the barking mad stuff to build their street cred. The Air America host of the right that fills his market niche and laughs all the way to the bank.

  8. MerlinOS2 says:

    Those crossover moderates are what have left us with McCain as the front runner with Huck helping him along by sitting on a block of conservative voters who otherwise would have been able to fight this whole thing off.

    By the numbers percentage of self described independents Mc got so far

    .44 .23 .35 .13 .35 .42 avg .32 of the independent voter per primary.

    By may calculations those numbers work ou to a total of 310,263 votes for him since the primary started out of the total votes he has gotten of 1207988.

    Just as a point of all the votes cast to date Mc has gotten about 1/3 of them

    Mc 1207988
    Mitt 1131108

    All reps 3608829.

  9. MerlinOS2 says:

    Total crossover votes per the exit polls

    Dems 132651
    Ind 725576

    Tot 858227

  10. MerlinOS2 says:

    To put some scale to that figure the crossover votes are more than the combined total votes of the SC NH NV and IA primaries COMBINED

    It is also more than all the republican votes cast in the Michigan primary

  11. AJStrata says:


    I can only remind you that it is people like me – an independent – that would cross from left to right. The party needs them if it wants to govern. Purity and the minority or diversity and governing. Remember, those ‘crossovers’ are important in November.

  12. ama055131 says:

    Now on drudge Nancy Reagan adores and fully supports Mr. McCain
    in her private life. Hmmm Rush Sean Savage Levin I think you have been blown out of the water. As the great Ronald Reagan said its one big tent we may not agree on all issues but everyone is welcome to join!

  13. WWS says:

    I do agree with you about Savage’s game, Merlin. And I might as well say what I think about talk radio in general, on all sides, even though this may upset some devotees – it is an overly emotional, pseudo-therapeutic and predominantly juvenile media that is always destined to collapse into waves of hyperbolic demagoguery. The game is called getting people excited enough to listen – moderate people with moderate ideas are not exciting, and never will be. And this fundamental flaw applies to talkers both left and right – and the kicker is that because these hosts have people call in and stroke their egos constantly, they think they are actually important in the political process.

    The truth is they are just flies buzzing on the outhouse wall.

    I don’t listen to any of it, and haven’t for years now.

  14. lurker9876 says:

    Merlin, when you say crossovers for IND, are you saying that these IND’s voted in the Republican primaries?

    If it weren’t for the hugh voter turnouts for the Democrats, Romney might have had a chance. But I think McCain has a better chance in winning in spite of the high voter turnouts on the Democratic side.

    I can probably live with McCain because of the US Supreme Court Justice issues and his support on national security.

    As for Obama, I hope he will never be our president. One reason is his stance on Israel. Think he is in favor of eliminating Israel entirely.

  15. lurker9876 says:

    And this is another reason I hope Obama will never be our president:


  16. Terrye says:

    I think that some of these pundits have tried to take the Republicans right and have failed to some extent. The Republican party was always the sensible party, the pragmatic party. Reagan was not some hyper partisan. How do people think he got folks in places like Hallywood to vote for him?

    I think talk radio has had a bad effect. I don’t think that we have to like the candidate, in a personal sense, this is not a personality contest. But we need to be able to support the decision of the voters and not assume we know better than our fellow Americans what is right and wrong. There should be more mutual respect than that.

    Pence from my state of Indiana is a conservative from the House. He is smart and articulate and maybe the thing for conservatives is to find people like him and help them gain attention and support in the party. That way they have a better chance of coming up with a candidate they like…instead of trying to bully the rest of us.

  17. Terrye says:


    I don’t think Israel is going to allow itself to be eliminated, whatever Obama or anyone else wants.

  18. MerlinOS2 says:


    I agree the cross overs are needed and Regan courted them with the your party has left you remarks.

    Just putting out the numbers so people can be aware of how much they are driving what is happening this primary season.

    Most were not likely aware of the scale and it is just my intent to provide a perspective.

  19. MerlinOS2 says:

    Also note that the Dem portion of those exit polls showed that they jumped form running 2% of the votes to 7% in Michigan , the same time Kos and Co. were advocating their Dems for Mitt strategy to play with the Republican primary season.

    Florida as the second penalty box state for the dems with zero delegates at stake could have been also played with the same game ground rules.

    Funny thing is with 3% of the voters in Fl self identifying as dems they refused to say who they voted for since the exit poll only indicates the percent participation and no allocation of votes among the candidates.