Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Not-So-Hidden (For Now) Rich and MoDo on Election 2006

The New York Times firewall to the Times Select content (their daily columnists as well as special features) have been breached for a few days. But since it's ending tomorrow, I'll still post some good tidbits from this weekend's Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich columns.

I'm not usually a big fan of MoDo, but her Saturday column, Drapes of Wrath, is pure gold:

The new Democratic sweep conjures up an ancient image: Furies swooping down to punish bullies.

Angry winged goddesses with dog heads, serpent hair and blood eyes, unmoved by tears, prayer, sacrifice or nasty campaign ads, avenging offenses by insolent transgressors.

This will be known as the year macho politics failed — mainly because it was macho politics by marshmallow men. Voters were sick of phony swaggering, blustering and bellicosity, absent competency and accountability. They were ready to trade in the deadbeat Daddy party for the sheltering Mommy party.

All the conservative sneering about a fem-lib from San Francisco who was measuring the drapes for the speaker’s office didn’t work. Americans wanted new drapes, and an Armani granny with a whip in charge.

A recent study found that the testosterone of American men has been dropping for 20 years, but in Republican Washington, it was running amok, and not in a good way. Men who had refused to go to an untenable war themselves were now refusing to find an end to another untenable war that they had recklessly started.

Republicans were oddly oblivious to the fact that they had turned into a Thomas Nast cartoon: an unappetizing tableau of bloated, corrupt, dissembling, feckless white hacks who were leaving kids unprotected. Tom DeLay and Bob Ney sneaking out of Congress with dollar bills flying out of their pockets. Denny Hastert playing Cardinal Bernard Law, shielding Mark Foley. Rummy, cocky and obtuse as he presided over an imploding Iraq, while failing to give young men and women in the military the armor, support and strategy they needed to come home safely. Dick Cheney, vowing bullheadedly to move “full speed ahead” on Iraq no matter what the voters decided. W. frantically yelling about how Democrats would let the terrorists win, when his lame-brained policies had spawned more terrorists.

After 9/11, Americans had responded to bellicosity, drawn to the image, as old as the Western frontier myth, of the strong father protecting the home from invaders. But this time, many voters, especially women, rejected the rough Rovian scare and divide tactics.

The macho poses and tough talk of the cowboy president were undercut when he seemed flaccid in the face of the vicious Katrina and the vicious Iraq insurgency.

Even former members of the administration conceded they were tired of the muscle-bound style, longing for a more maternal approach to the globe. “We were exporting our anger and our fear, hatred for what had happened,” Richard Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state, said in a speech in Australia, referring to the 9/11 attacks. He said America needed “to turn another face to the world and get back to more traditional things, such as the export of hope and opportunity and inspiration.”

Talking about hope and opportunity and inspiration has propelled Barack Obama into the presidential arena. His approach seems downright feminine when compared with the Bushies, or even Hillary Clinton. He languidly poses in fashion magazines, shares feelings with Oprah and dishes with the ladies on “The View.” After six years of chest-puffing, Senator Obama seems very soothing.

Rich's 2006: The Year of the ‘Macaca’ nails it on the head as well:
OF course, the “thumpin’ ” was all about Iraq. But let us not forget Katrina. It was the collision of the twin White House calamities in August 2005 that foretold the collapse of the presidency of George W. Bush.

Back then, the full measure of the man finally snapped into focus for most Americans, sending his poll numbers into the 30s for the first time. The country saw that the president who had spurned a grieving wartime mother camping out in the sweltering heat of Crawford was the same guy who had been unable to recognize the depth of the suffering in New Orleans’s fetid Superdome. This brand of leadership was not the “compassionate conservatism” that had been sold in all those photo ops with African-American schoolchildren. This was callous conservatism, if not just plain mean.

It’s the kind of conservatism that remains silent when Rush Limbaugh does a mocking impersonation of Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s symptoms to score partisan points. It’s the kind of conservatism that talks of humane immigration reform but looks the other way when candidates demonize foreigners as predatory animals. It’s the kind of conservatism that pays lip service to “tolerance” but stalls for days before taking down a campaign ad caricaturing an African-American candidate as a sexual magnet for white women.

This kind of politics is now officially out of fashion. Harold Ford did lose his race in Tennessee, but by less than three points in a region that has not sent a black man to the Senate since Reconstruction. Only 36 years old and hugely talented, he will rise again even as the last vestiges of Jim Crow tactics continue to fade and Willie Horton ads countenanced by a national political party join the Bush dynasty in history’s dustbin.

Elsewhere, the 2006 returns more often than not confirmed that Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike, are far better people than this cynical White House takes them for. This election was not a rebuke merely of the reckless fiasco in Iraq but also of the divisive ideology that had come to define the Bush-Rove-DeLay era. This was the year that Americans said a decisive no to the politics of “macaca” just as firmly as they did to pre-emptive war and Congressional corruption.

[...]

But for those who’ve been sickened by the Bush-Rove brand of politics, surely the happiest result of 2006 was saved for last: Jim Webb’s ousting of Senator George Allen in Virginia. It is all too fitting that this race would be the one that put the Democrats over the top in the Senate. Mr. Allen was the slickest form of Bush-Rove conservative, complete with a strategist who’d helped orchestrate the Swift Boating of John Kerry. Mr. Allen was on a fast track to carry that banner into the White House once Mr. Bush was gone. His demise was so sudden and so unlikely that it seems like a fairy tale come true.

As recently as April 2005, hard as it is to believe now, Mr. Allen was chosen in a National Journal survey of Beltway insiders as the most likely Republican presidential nominee in 2008. Political pros saw him as a cross between Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush whose “affable” conservatism and (contrived) good-old-boy persona were catnip to voters. His Senate campaign this year was a mere formality; he began with a double-digit lead.

That all ended famously on Aug. 11, when Mr. Allen, appearing before a crowd of white supporters in rural Virginia, insulted a 20-year-old Webb campaign worker of Indian descent who was tracking him with a video camera. After belittling the dark-skinned man as “macaca, or whatever his name is,” Mr. Allen added, “Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.”

The moment became a signature cultural event of the political year because the Webb campaign posted the video clip on YouTube.com, the wildly popular site that most politicians, to their peril, had not yet heard about from their children. Unlike unedited bloggorhea, which can take longer to slog through than Old Media print, YouTube is all video snippets all the time; the one-minute macaca clip spread through the national body politic like a rabid virus. Nonetheless it took more than a week for Mr. Allen to recognize the magnitude of the problem and apologize to the object of his ridicule. Then he compounded the damage by making a fool of himself on camera once more, this time angrily denying what proved to be accurate speculation that his mother was a closeted Jew. It was a Mel Gibson meltdown that couldn’t be blamed on the bottle.

[...]

Perhaps the most interesting finding in the exit polls Tuesday was that the base did turn out for Mr. Rove: white evangelicals voted in roughly the same numbers as in 2004, and 71 percent of them voted Republican, hardly a mass desertion from the 78 percent of last time. But his party was routed anyway. It was the end of the road for the boy genius and his can’t-miss strategy that Washington sycophants predicted could lead to a permanent Republican majority.

What a week this was! Here’s to the voters of both parties who drove a stake into the heart of our political darkness. If you’ll forgive me for paraphrasing George Allen: Welcome back, everyone, to the world of real America.


2 Comments:

At 5:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only way Dems lost in 2008 is if they nominate Hillary. She is toxic to much of America. I can't believe people aren't mentioning Al Gore more when discussing serious candidates. To me he is the obvious choice. Shafted in 2000, right on the war, a true visionary/leader on the environment. The anti-Hillary, so to speak...
www.minor-ripper.blogspot.com

 
At 5:44 AM, Blogger Seven Star Hand said...

Very good analysis, Agen.

I want you to notice that my birthday was August 11th. Mr. Macaca's defeat was an apt present for me. (Check my photo in my Ebook...)

Now comes the truly important work of preventing this from ever happening again. As long as people cling to money, religion, and politics, these seemingly never-ending cycles of evil scoundrels, war, great struggles, and repeated injustices will never end.

The time has indeed arrived for a new dawn!

Here is Wisdom !!

 

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