Two days ago I chatted with two very different conservatives. One was my father, a proprietor of a 75 or so-employee business. The other is a quite significant opinion leader, and a very successful financier as well.
My father, who is starting to see Obama as a credible general election candidate even though he won’t admit it yet, confidently predicted that he has “two words for a President Obama: Jimmy. Carter.” Six months ago, like most conservatives who have their own private-sector lives and who don’t look at politics on a 24-hour news-cycle basis, he was pretty blase about the horse-race particulars, and confidently predicted that the GOP could count on an outstanding party turnout operation, courtesy of Hillary Clinton’s “inevitable” candidacy
I tried, and failed, to explain that while chance can always come to your rescue, that is a loser’s consolation. The essence of losing is waiting for your opponent to make a mistake, unless your opponent’s performance decays unduly quickly from the passage of time. Such is not at all the case with the Democrats. All else equal, your opponent’s battlefield awareness is not much worse than yours, and over time he will make rational decisions, and he will destroy you.
In the Democratic primary, the Democrats have made the right choice in selecting Othello over Lady Macbeth. The Democrats have overcome their institutional rot. The new Democratic core of Obama is young, aggressive, diverse, optimistic, and unencumbered by internal feuding and inward-looking “palace intrigues” (in stark contrast to the GOP). The Clinton Democrats made more mistakes than the GOP could have prayed for, because traditional Democratic institutions — labor in particular — were populated by sycophants incapable of calling out the Clintons for all the damage they inflicted on the party.
Those days are over. The Clinton wing of the party is dead. Democratic institutions will execute much better strategy as a result. The GOP cannot count on Democratic mistakes to save them anymore.
The “mystery” financier, on the other hand, is very dismayed and worried by Obama. However, he had some cause for temporary optimism: “Obama made a big gaffe on 60 Minutes about Chavez, saying he would talk to Syria and Chavez. He should have kept his mouth shut.” I tried to say that Obama’s core supporters never watch 60 Minutes; to the extent that they know who Hugo Chavez is, they don’t instinctively despise him; and they have largely tuned out of mainstream media anyway. They don’t care if Obama sounds bad on one of the “big” network shows, because they know that the networks promiscuously broker power by framing quotations far out of context: as far as young voters are concerned, there are very few media institutions more than 10 years old which have a smidgen of credibility.
Like Obama, they have no respect for the mainstream media’s schizophrenic concern-trolling one day and sycophancy the next. They read Slashdot, Techdirt and Real Clear Politics — not First Read, the NYT, the Politico, or Red State. They want drugs decriminalized. As far as they are concerned, older voters can have their daily soylent green of Katie Couric, Natalee Holloway, Britney Spears, and if-bleeds-then-leads MSM white noise. They prefer Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, both of whom can pack as much new marginal information into 24 minutes of comedy as can the MSM in 60 very dour minutes.
They are turned on but tuned out.
I guess it’s something over-40’s just won’t understand. But they are going to have a very hard time understanding how Obama will do to conservatism what Reagan did to liberalism.
Sure, the Obama “movement,” or whatever it calls itself today, will have a lot of growing pains and internal squabbling to deal with. But that doesn’t change the fact that conservatives, who should have been terrified of this a year ago, are still asleep at the switch.
The Miers episode should have crystallized, for anyone still clueless, that in terms of domestic policy, conservatives had zero meaningful representation within the Republican policymaking establishment. The civil war should have begun then. Unfortunately, instead of inflicting punishment upon the machine elites for betraying the grassroots, the conservative grasstops exhibited all the independence of a prison stable boy.