Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jon Chait is right...

about why liberal bloggers aren't upset about Obama's right-wing columnist dinner. I'd add that Obama has built up a great deal of trust among the left in his progressivism--the main worry among some bloggers is that Obama's natural tendency toward incrementalism, coupled with a desire to be seen as bipartisan, would lead him to water down progressive policies too much. But nobody really doubts his ideological inclinations, not in the way that Bill Clinton gave them reason to.

Chait does bring up another interesting point, though, which is that conservatives probably would have been outraged had Bush pulled a similar stunt. I think the reason why has to do with the dichotomy of the right: on the one hand, they're obsessed with ideology. On the other hand, they don't really seem to care what Republican presidents actually do in the White House. The truth is that most Republicans are what they are because of tribal affiliation. One of the right's biggest accomplishments in the past forty years has been the creation of a quasiethnic identity--let's just call it "Americanist"--and exploiting it to the GOP's advantage.

I actually wonder whether the GOP can come back any time soon. Put simply, the GOP contains an awful lot of people that, aside from being against abortion and taxes, don't really care much about policy but will happily defend Republicans--even morons like Bush--against the evils of the liberal media. The rest doesn't matter to them, but it should, because it seems unlikely that a genuine center-right reformer would be able to fix the party when faced with such obstacles as powerful and intransigent special interest groups and a base that only cares about an issue or two. That's why I support a Mike Huckabee nomination unironically, as he has both the ability and the inclination to lead a revolt against the top of the GOP establishment, and that he'd lose would be doubly sweet for me: I don't want him to be president, and he'd probably lose a McGovern-like landslide. The GOP would be finished. The rebuilding could begin. Or they could intentionally nominate an obstinate, dim right-winger who will fill their shopping lists and run things for everything else terribly. Right-wing interest groups are actually doing pretty well these days. I guess it all depends on how much of a death wish the right has.

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.