Sunday, October 17, 2010

Free Base Politics

My mood (in case you haven't noticed) has been quite foul. I must have carried that over into my visit yesterday to Watching America. Not much there looked terribly interesting, so I just clicked on one entry that looked mildly amusing. Matt Gurney's column in Canada's National Post was exactly that. His take on the New York gubernatorial race hit the target.

Clearly, Paladino, a long-shot candidate catapulted into the GOP nomination by Tea Party support, is a candidate in need of a bit of an image overhaul. So, of course, he decided to apologize for his anti-gay comments, which to believe him, weren’t anti-gay at all, just … oh, forget it. Here’s what he said: “I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the gay and lesbian community or their family members. Any reference to branding an entire community based on a small representation of them is wrong.”

You know … for a guy campaigning on the mad-as-hell ticket, someone who wants to throw the bums out and change how politics is done … he sure does apologize like a life-long political hack. It would be nice if all this reformist outrage could have helped Paladino think this one through: If you meant what you say, have the courage to defend your remarks and let the voters judge you on your views and your guts, and if you think a remark should be apologized for, have the courage to do a proper job of it.
[Emphasis in the original]

Gurney's conclusion was right on the mark as well:

Mind you, considering that this guy is running in one of the more liberal states in the union on a far-right ticket and is stumbling all over his anti-gay, racist, homophobic and sexist behaviour, the final apology he might have to reluctantly give might be to the justifiably frustrated right-wing voters who turned to him for change and got God’s gift to the Democrats instead.

Now, I'm not sure Paladino will do any apologizing if he loses, and I certainly do hope he loses, because that just doesn't happen to be his style. That style is what made him so attractive to the rabid right. The thing is, I don't think the rabid right is going to be any happier even if Paladino does win. The New York legislature will simply ignore him and carry on the way it always does. The last two governors learned that pretty quickly.

So then what? Those Tea Partiers with the serious anger will get even angrier, and I suspect that is what is going to happen no matter who wins these elections. Frank Rich thinks so as well. His latest column deals directly with this issue, and his analysis is perhaps the most sensible one out there.

Don’t expect the extremism and violence in our politics to subside magically after Election Day — no matter what the results. If Tea Party candidates triumph, they’ll be emboldened. If they lose, the anger and bitterness will grow. The only development that can change this equation is a decisive rescue from our prolonged economic crisis. Not for the first time in history — and not just American history — fear itself is at the root of a rabid outbreak of populist rage against government, minorities and conspiratorial “elites.” [Emphasis added]


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