You've probably heard about this one already, so there's little I need to do here in terms of setup. Sometimes I question my purpose in life; at other times it is so very clear why I was put on this Earth. When I first read Richard Cohen's latest, I had one of those moments of clarity. This is my everything.
The day after Chris Christie, the cuddly moderate conservative
When Chris Christie is your cuddly moderate, you need to start asking questions. Start with "Are we a party full of crazy people?" Then say "Yes." and move on to wondering how it came to be that a guy who looks like Kevin James doing a Tony Siragusa impression is your most charismatic candidate.
won a landslide reelection as the Republican governor of Democratic New Jersey, I took the Internet Express out to Iowa, surveying its various newspapers, blogs and such to see how he might do in the GOP caucuses, won last time by Rick Santorum, neither cuddly nor moderate.
"took the Internet Express out to Iowa" is the noblest way ever concocted of saying, "I read some blogs and I'm going to treat them as representative of public opinion, at least inasmuch as I can use it to make my point."
Superstorm Sandy put Christie on the map. The winter snows of Iowa could bury him.
That's deep. This is why he gets the big bucks. Looks like we're all about to get blasted by Tropical Storm Bullshit just as Mount Hackneyed begins to tremble.
From a Web site called the Iowa Republican, I learned that part of the problem with John McCain and Mitt Romney, serial losers to Barack Obama, "is they were deemed too moderate by many Iowa conservatives." The sort of candidates Iowa Republicans prefer have already been in the state. The blog cited Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah (considered to the right of Cruz, if such a thing is possible), Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the party's recent vice presidential candidate and its resident abacus, and the inevitable Sarah Palin, the Alaska quitter who, I think, actually now lives in Arizona. If this is the future of the GOP, then it's in the past.
And what in the ball-jiggling hell is "Iowa Republican"? The linked story has a typo in the headline. Even by right-wing standards this does not seem like a legitimate source. And remember, these are people who found Ahmed Chalabi credible.
None of these candidates bears the slightest resemblance to Christie. And the more literate of them — that's not you, Palin – must have chortled over post-election newspaper columns extolling Christie as precisely the sort of candidate the GOP ought to run in 2016. This is the dream of moderate Republicans, but not many of them vote in the Iowa caucuses or the South Carolina primary, two of the early nominating contests.
And New Hampshire, which people like McCain and Romney have used as a springboard to the nomination. But other than that.
At the moment, it is Cruz, not Christie, who has seized the imagination of Iowa Republicans. Cruz has not only been to the state, but he also was accompanied by his evangelist father, Rafael, a colorful preacher who opposes almost anything, including, of course, same-sex marriage. ("It was Adam and Eve, it was not Adam and Steve," he recently said.)
Boy that's clever. That line is so old, I think the nuns beat Michelangelo's ass in grade school for using it.
Cruz the younger is not merely tea party to the nth degree, he is a Christian conservative as well – and for 22 percent of Iowa's "likely 2016 caucusgoers," polled by the Des Moines Register, that's who they think stands the best chance of winning the presidency. The No. 1 choice (44 percent) was "a candidate focused on civil liberties and a small government rooted in the U.S. Constitution."
Well 22% isn't great, especially when followed by the revelation that twice as many respondents preferred a vague description of someone who doesn't exist to Cruz.
Christie can passably argue that he is that,
As plausibly as I can argue that I starred as Wade Garrett in Road House.
but no one is going to call him a Christian conservative. After all, he opposed same-sex marriage in New Jersey, but he acquiesced. Cruz would not to do that. He’d still be talking – and Steve would still be single.
In comedy this is what's called a "comeback". It's usually only done with good jokes, but whatever.
Iowa not only is a serious obstacle for Christie and other Republican moderates, it also suggests something more ominous: the Dixiecrats of old. Officially the States' Rights Democratic Party, they were breakaway Democrats whose primary issue was racial segregation. In its cause, they ran their own presidential candidate, Strom Thurmond, and almost cost Harry Truman the 1948 election. They didn't care. Their objective was not to win — although that would have been nice – but to retain institutional, legal racism. They saw a way of life under attack and they feared its loss.
This is what we call some good ol' fashioned foreshadowing! Everyone take a big sip of your drink.
Today's GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled – about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde.
It's not racist, it's just "deeply troubled" about "expansion of government" (READ: WELFARE QUEENS) and immigration (READ: OMG MEXICANS), not to mention secularism and "mainstreaming" of what used to be "avant-garde", which I assume are coded references to the gays.
People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children.
(Should I mention that Bill de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?)
NO, YOU SHOULD QUIT WHILE YOU'RE AHEAD. And by ahead I mean fired. Maybe just sit the next few plays out, champ.
This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts – but not all – of America.
Pretty sure interracial marriage happens, like, everywhere. Even when I lived in the deep south, where one might expect resistance to be found even if nowhere else, it seemed pretty unremarkable. If there is a bloc of resistance to "the miscegenation" or whatever such people – PEOPLE LIKE RICHARD "GAG REFLEX" COHEN – might call it, I'd like to see some data on who they are.
To cultural conservatives, this doesn't look like their country at all.
Maybe all of their endless rage and wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments is not a result of their country changing but of their delusion that the country is "theirs". You know those black lesbian wiccans with adopted Chinese children and three purebred Greyhounds who live in Dem Big Cities are Americans too, right? Like, they can vote and stuff, and they have an equal 1/319,000,000 claim to ownership of America as does Richard Cohen. Nobody's taking away "their" country; they're just dying off, and not quickly enough if I may say so.
As with the Dixiecrats, the fight is not over a particular program – although Obamacare comes close – but about a tectonic shift of attitudes.
Sounds more like a lack of shift in attitudes, cubby.
I thank Dennis J. Goldford, professor of politics and international relations at Drake University in Des Moines, for leading me to a live performance on YouTube of Merle Haggard singing “Are the Good Times Really Over.” This chestnut, a lament for a lost America, has been viewed well more than 2 million times. It could be the tea party's anthem.
It took a guy with a Ph.D. to find a YouTube video of a popular song by an artist who is nearly a household name? While you mull that over, let's talk about nostalgia for The Good Ol' Days. Maybe flip through a book of Norman Rockwell paintings while we're at it. Ask for whom they were good – white men with money, not unlike Richard Cohen – and you answer the question of who's so desperate to bring them back.
For all his positions and religious beliefs, Christie is too Joisey for the tea party – too brash, as well. He would be wise to steer clear of Iowa lest he lose or, worse, follow Romney and take on the deeply conservative coloration of the state's GOP.
Yes, this man who is running for president will skip Iowa. Richard Cohen has quite the grasp of how the nomination process works. He should skip Iowa, lest he follow in the path of Mitt Romney…who won the Republican nomination I think. Let me check. Yep, he won it. Didn't win Iowa, but neither did McCain. I guess Iowa isn't that big of a fucking deal after all.
That might make him (barely) acceptable to Republican Iowans but anathema to the rest of us.
This is the dumbest thing I've ever read, and one time I read Going Rogue.
Read more from Richard Cohen's archive.
I'll pass, thanks.