Friday, January 10, 2014

Character counts

Clinton was a brilliant politician.  But his character was low.  It was a big problem. 

Nixon won re-election by a landslide.  But his character was even lower.  It was an even bigger problem.

Chris Christie looks like he’s a charismatic, talented politician.  But, his character is definitely in question.  The Bridge-gate incident reveals a bullying, vengeful, punishing man.  If he didn’t order the bridge closing, his people certainly did, and they were picked by him and they worked in the environment created by him.  He created the culture in his government that gave these people the notion that abuse of others was sanctioned.  It’s all a kind of a New Jersey caricature – the mob boss style governor. 

2016 is a long way off, but I think his presidential hopes may be over, especially as more of the story comes out, as it must, as the investigations go forward.  I don’t think he will end up looking good, and this will all go toward branding the Christie name, especially if it tracks with other high handed or abusive behaviors in the past, and the future.

We don’t need a president that thinks he can abuse his enemies.  We had one, his name was Richard Nixon. 

One was enough.  The Reps need to do better than him.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Underneath conservative's unwillingness to help the poor

Brian Buetler of, liberal editorialist, wrote that underneath everything that conservatives stand for is the refusal to do anything to help the poor.  It is a pretty good article.  But I think that conservatives' unwillingness to help the poor is an effect rather than the bottom line cause.  

I have written often that I think that the top value for liberals is caring, so it is no surprise that Mr Beutler would see conservatives' actions as being essentially rooted in uncaring.  

But, I think that to the extent that conservatives refuse to help the poor they do so because they have a different value system.  The top value for conservatives is freedom, it seems to me.  But, what about the rabid Tea Party wing of conservatives?  I think they are manifesting a distortion of conservatism.

I think underneath the extreme Tea Party conservatism is a belief in a fantasy version of manliness - fiercely independent, boldly opportunistic, bravely logical, awesomely courageous, etc. - best written about by the most masculine writer of modern times, the woman Ayn Rand.  It is a fantasy self image that aging white men and adolescents carry inside themselves of who they really are: heroically hyper-masculine paragons of strength.  And they think that anything that weakens people, like giving to the poor, is seen as a kind of sacrilege, and a violation of this hyper-manly code, by weakening people and allowing them to fall into the sins of being dependent and needing help.   

Eric Fromm's "Escape from Freedom" from the '40s analyzed the authoritarian personality and how Nazism, Fascism, and Communism all were the outflows of that distorted orientation.  Totalitarianism is the natural consequence of political systems designed on idealistic visions of human beings that are essentially not human.  The Communists idealized human was one who was truly altruistic and giving.  The fascist and Nazi idealized human was a man of purity of will and strength.

I remain encouraged that the radical wing of the Republican Party seems to be losing its death grip on the party and the nation.  

Let a little kindness flow.