Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Moderate cannot hold

As "The West Wing" slouches towards its inevitable extinction, one must ask with dreary liturgical repetitiveness, "Why, oh why must it pretend to expect so much suspense on the part of the viewer over the lining up of a fictional Cabinet for an Administration whose fictional adventures will never be aired?" Or does NBC really expect that Americans will hit the streets demanding MORE of President(-Elect) Smitts and more, please more Josh Bolton-- er, whatshisface? Dear gods, Americans don't care who the REAL White House Chief-of-Staff is! Nor do Americans care who the real Rob Lowe is, Republican or jailbait-chaser or whatnot. Every preview of the April 23rd installment was thus an insult to the American electorate, and we should demand that the damned thing be killed off before Alan Alda can accept a Kerry-McCain Vice Presidency.
But there is more to the matter. In a vein which Aaron Sorkin would almost certainly not explore, we received a spirited defense of America's fundamental "centrism" which Josh and Smitts must carefully defend against the demands of radical "liberals" as well as fence-sitting "Republican moderates." Thus two of the most well-bred urban (well, DC) legends of today are feed. Not that I deny the existence of airily disconnected leftists who still thump Marx (or rather, some glossy pink post-feminist tome parading something or other completely disconnected from any legitimate question of political economy as "Marxism"); I have known them, I have loathed them, I have battled them too. These people are called "academics", and they are a woeful bunch, and they have absolutely no influence over Events at all. Thirty-seven years after Lyndon Johnson vacated the White House, does anyone even remember what a "liberal" is? This great nation endured them, their warmongering and all, and prospered. Hmm. And yet these slimmed-down Carter/Clinton liberals, who hardly dare to ask for a few more hospitals in exchange for a few fewer Stryker vehicles (or could we bargain for some handmedown BMD-2s from Russia instead?), no, just maybe perhaps no more tax cuts for the millionaires, not just right now please, and can we balance that budget?-- these Jacobin terrors are set to ruin everything, as always; but meanwhile, if we can whip those good old Republican moderates off the bench, we can have us a great government for sure!
Sadly, moderate Republicans are something of a Bigfoot right now, though reports of a couple of wild wooly females of that variety in the woods of Maine have gained credence. The real problem here is that, once again, mere moderatism, that unwholesome milk of electoral politics thrust into the mewling throats of registered infants, is the substitute for fortifying centrism. A centrist, in my view, is a person of convictions, either of the liberal or conservative persuasions, who assumes the responsibilities of office with a determination to make intelligent compromises which will promise not simply compromise for compromise's sake, but actual positive PROGRESS. The politics of the late Sharon government and of Ehud Ohlmert exemplify this tendency, and in light of the definition I set forth it is perhaps not so surprising that, sadly (and I do not know how) Ohlmert's sweep proved to be underwhelming. Vigorous programs do provoke suspicion as well as outright opposition, and so it should not shock us that Israeli voters had last-moment second thoughts about moving "Forward". But I still often ruminate on the Israeli teen who offered her enthusiastic support for Ohlmert by saying Kadima "is the sanest party-- it's right in the center!" She's right. And the center is the coolest place to be.

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