Monday, October 20, 2008

The Conservative Crack-Up
More Loathsome And Alarming Than We Realize?

I've wondered whether we'd be acting more honorably than the McCainiacs if the tables were turned and we were losing. Thing is, those conditions are importantly asymmetrical.

Turning rabid because you are losing after eight years of partisan misrule by the other party would be one thing; turning rabid after eight years of partisan misrule by your own party is quite another. The former is at least understandable--the latter is truly loony.

Although I try to keep my special pleading and double-standarding to a minimum, I'd go easier on the Dems if they were losing and going crazy. It's been hard enough to keep it together during the catastrophe of the Bush administration. If anything, I think Dems (well, all Americans, in fact) should probably be a lot more angry than they actually are about Bush's misrule.

(Furthermore, the Dems clearly have by far the better candidates this time (as evidenced by the defections of even some fairly stalwart conservatives), and that would make losing far harder to take. But this point is perhaps controversial enough that it should be set to the side.)

Thing is, if the GOP can ever lose with grace and dignity, they should be able to do so this time: their party has spent the last eight years assiduously screwing the pooch, and they have a candidate that most of them don't even like. (But, then, I think they should have been able to lose with grace--or at least react in a fair, reasonable, and democratic manner to the Florida recount problem--in 2000. After all, the Clinton administration was fairly centrist. And we saw how that went.)

So my worry is that we're now seeing how the GOP loses under the best conditions--that is, after they've been in power for a long time, they've botched it all, they don't have much invested in their candidate, and they face a genuinely worthy opponent. Again: if the GOP is ever capable of losing in a reasonable and dignified way, they should be able to do so now. If that's right, then we may not be seeing the GOP losing at its worst; we may, instead, be seeing them lose at their best. And that's a genuinely alarming possibility.


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