The Trouble With Tea

May 25, 2011

Mark Twain famously said that he didn’t belong to any organized political party.  He was a Democrat.

I thought about that trope when I read this morning about the surprising upset of Republican Jane Corwin by her Democratic challenger Kathy Hochul, in a very conservative  Congressional district in upstate New York.   Only this time, it’s not Twain’s party that doesn’t have its act together.   And this race was illustrative of the dastardly challenges the Republicans face in winning back the House and the Presidency in 2012.

Hochul–who trailed by a wide margin a few weeks ago–managed to make the race a referendum on Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare.    But as surprisingly effective as that strategy seemed to be,  there’s little doubt that the Democratic upset wouldn’t have happened without a guy named  Jack Davis, a Tea Party candidate who got 9 percent of the vote.

Think of what this means for the Presidential race in 2012.  First, the Republican base–surprise!–doesn’t mind the welfare state so much when it starts to affect their pocketbooks, which could greatly constrain the rhetoric the eventual nominee.  But the more intriguing notion is that the race is likely to have a Tea Party representative.  It just seems very unlikely that somebody–Michelle Bachmann?  Ron Paul?–won’t jump into the race, if only to burnish their credentials as a future Fox News personality.

Does anybody think Mitt Romney or Time Pawlenty can beat President Obama by 9 points in Ohio?


A Tyrant’s Grief. Ours, Too.

May 1, 2011

So let’s assume that Col. Qaddafi’s mouthpiece has the basic facts right, and NATO airstrikes did indeed kill three of the ruler’s young grandchildren today.  Predictably, the Russians–having abstainted from the vote authorizing the use of force by the coalition–condemned the action as “disproportionate.” 

Military ethics is murky territory, and matters of proportionality seem particularly vexing in this even murkier conflict.  A people rise up against a megalomaniacal tyrant;  the tyrant responds with brutal force; the global community attempts to counter with force of its own–force which has other “proportionality” issues relative to that which has been applied in neighboring uprisings.

But what is most striking to me about all of this is how quickly the humanity gets sucked out of the whole discussion.  Again, taking the reports at face value, three innocent little kids got bombed to death.  They didn’t get to choose their grandfather any more than any of the rest of us did.  It’s heartbreaking.  And there’s nowhere in the “public square” to express that.