Ross Douthat contends that, while McCain's campaign sucks, the dishonorableness of his campaign won't necessarily impede the ability of the GOP to advance conservative solutions. He uses George H. W. Bush as an example of a substance-free campaign that didn't cramp conservatives' style. I think he's 180 degrees wrong on that--Bush Sr. won a campaign based purely on culture war freak out. Since he won with this garbage instead of on the issues--and certainly not on Reagan's coattails, despite what conservatives say--future conservatives like George W. Bush and, well, John McCain would be able to avoid the issues in future elections. Issues have become almost beside the point, a quaint notion that is less important than what the public "takes away" from the individuals. You better believe that Bush 41 was fundamentally associated with this trend.
McCain's campaign should concern Douthat more, since McCain is not just using a culture war strategy--he's using a post-fact strategy in which substance and truth don't matter, to say nothing of new ideas, outside of fuzzy and abstract ones like "change" and "reform". For a guy who is a thinker and actually has proposed some serious conservative ideas for the GOP, I wonder if he's really comfortable with a Republican party that just doesn't care about anything aside from winning elections by scaring the bejeezus out of the populace.
The Man, The Myth, The Bio
- East Bay, California, United States
- Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.