Having suffered now under the agonizing, infuriating madness of the Bush administration for seven years, it is time, finally, as Andrew Sullivan puts it -- and I am not given to quoting him -- to "know hope." I haven't been this giddy since 2004; not since right before Howard Dean fatally released what became known as "the Dean Scream" and the media had a field day and decided to go with the story of him being unstable, leaving us with John Kerry. Kerry's candidacy was cause for optimism -- sometimes -- but not really hope. I hadn't supported his primary campaign because he, like Senator Clinton, was not the agent of change that this country so desperately needs. But Not Bush was better than the alternative. It just couldn't win.
This country took a profoundly wrong turn in the weeks and months following 9/11. It has been enraging to see this President, dubiously appointed by the Supreme Court for his first term, extol the virtues and necessities of freedom and democracy while systematically dismantling civil liberties and ignoring the rule of law. It has been deeply distressing, too, to watch the ascendancy of Senator Clinton who, among all people, should have known not to trust the neocons pulling Bush's strings when she cast the fatal vote in favor of allowing Bush to "disarm" Iraq. I believe she made that decision not for the security of the people of the United States, not for the welfare of the people of an oppressed Iraq, not for the hope of a better Middle East, but out of political calculation: she wanted to look tough. Since then, she has continued to defend her vote, to say that the disaster lay in the bungling of the plan, not in the idiocy of the plan itself. And she must pay.
The Evangelicals have awakened to realize that they are the GOP's useful idiots: Karl Rove dangled gay marriage in front of them so that they'd rush to the polls to re-elect (often gay) men who gave lip-service to scripture but handjobs to corporations (and sometimes to random men in airport bathrooms).
I am also delighted with the rise of Mike Huckabee. After nearly a decade of utterly transparent insincerity from our President, with a boiling hostility and arrogance just barely restrained, a Connecticut blueblood with degrees from Harvard and Yale trying to pass himself off as a "jes' folks" regular guy from Texas, I think it's actually kind of nice that a major portion of the Republican Party is rallying around a genuine "aw shucks" hick who once cooked a squirrel in a popcorn popper.
Here you have a political party that until quite recently has succeeded on message discipline: if we all say the same thing, and keep saying it, it becomes true, or at least, people will believe it's true, especially if we characterize challenges (climate change is real, bin Laden didn't like Saddam Hussein, cutting taxes does not increase federal revenues, Barack Obama was not educated in a madrassa, the U.S. has the worst healthcare of any industrialized nation, etc.) as the idiotic fantasies of pot-smoking, divorced, gay-marrying illegal immigrant members of Al Qaeda. And now...? You don't even have a party. You've got three distinct groups of wackos -- libertarians, hawks, and fundamentalists -- who have suddenly discovered after 30 years of mutually indulgent delusion that they have nothing in common. The Evangelicals have awakened to realize that they are the GOP's useful idiots: Karl Rove dangled gay marriage in front of them so that they'd rush to the polls to re-elect (often gay) men who gave lip-service to scripture but handjobs to corporations (and sometimes to random men in airport bathrooms).
Well, the Evangelicals are mad as heck, and they aren't gonna take it anymore. They will not be fooled by a pro-choice, pro-gay, thrice-married Catholic whose idea of foreign policy is that there is no crisis which can't be solved by a new war. They will not settle for the governor of the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage. When you're dealing with an entire community of people whose lives center around the concept of moral absolutes, you're not going to find them making politically strategic compromises. You've never heard of religious martyrs? These people are prepared to lose an election; they'd rather throw away the vote that was given to them by the "Christian" founders of this "Christian" nation on a sure-fire loser than make a tactical calculation to vote for someone who doesn't really represent them, who will ignore them until the next time they are called to the polls by urgent warnings against lesbian terrorists having abortions paid for by socialized medicine.
If Huckabee is not the GOP nominee -- and right now, I don't think he will be -- I think the big surprise is that many Evangelicals will cross over to Obama. They may strongly disagree with him on a wide range of policies, but in him they will recognize a man of sincerity and integrity. I think they will take a chance and vote for someone who will be straight with them, rather than risk being betrayed and ignored again by an oily politician who came promising things he never intended to deliver.