If you're going to have a blog and occasionally talk about politics instead of needlework or book reviews or family events, I think Tuesday is probably the day to do it. And I want to talk about politics, fraught with peril as it may be. It's the week before the nominating convention in a red-hot political cycle, and the feeding frenzy is on. So if you don't want to read my ramblings on politics but like the knitting and quilting and other stuff, simple... Just skip Tuesdays from now until Election Day, or a little after. Or you can read, but pretty please don't leave any anonymous nastygram comments. Not that I can't respond to nastygram comments with wit and a snappy prose style... but the risk for hurt feelings is so high, I feel obliged to warn all Democrats particularly. I'd rather have you as a friend than a sparring partner.
Are they gone?
I understand a Missouri congressman, whom I'd never heard of until this week, is in some hot water. Todd Akin, challenging Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill (whom I have heard of, but barely) for her Senate seat, fumbled The Rape Question. You know, The Rape Question? The one that pro-abortion activists always ask pro-life politicians, hoping that they'll respond in a manner that can be spun as insensitive? I fumbled this question myself, once, in college, when a tall blond woman (who, I suspect now, was attempting to justify one or two abortions of her own) asked me with venom in her voice, "What if you were raped? What if you were raped by a black man and got pregnant?!" I fumbled it by not responding, quickly and decisively, to the hideous racism underlying it: "Are you saying a black rapist is worse than a white rapist?" For this, I should probably apologize now to all black rapists. But really, The Rape Question, much like abortion itself, is a conversation ender. It's not meant to promote reasoned dialogue. It's meant to be impossible to answer, and the best you can hope is to turn it and achieve some kind of a draw in this weird chess game that is political theater. Make no mistake: the person who asks The Rape Question is not your friend, and is not neutral on the larger abortion issue. In a sense, this question and the reaction to it epitomizes all that is wrong in American politics.
So Akin fumbles The Rape Question, and the next thing we know, it's the mushroom cloud obscuring the real electoral issues, with calls for his resignation coming louder from his own party than the Democrats. Really? His mistake, I believe, was in treating The Rape Question as a "legitimate rape question", one begging for a thoughtful answer. (His wasn't it in any case.) It's the kind of thing a gentleman from the Midwest would do. On one hand, I can see the case that Ann Coulter makes, that he has become a liability in an election with enormous stakes, and he should take one for the team. But as another child of the Midwest, this makes me furious, and I hope Akin wins Missouri single-handedly just to stick it to the thought police on both sides. Send the guy to pro-life boot camp to practice the answer he should have given... but they're acting like he's a rapist himself, and that's plain ridiculous. It was a gaffe, and a gaffe is a gaffe. Joe Biden makes one every 10 minutes and he's still in the second-highest office in the land. Bill Clinton actually was a rapist and he was re-elected. The news media who tolerate this kind of double standard have created a political environment where it would be impossible to elect Abraham Lincoln if he were running. They should be ashamed of themselves, but even more, the people should make them irrelevant.
I'm old enough to remember the catchphrase "this is the most important election of our lifetime" going back every four years to the 1992 election cycle. It was never completely true... every election is important, but every election is a foregone conclusion determined in large part by the prevailing cultural conditions. We get the leadership that the majority of the voters want. And we get the leadership we deserve, especially if we aren't willing to do the hard work to find out what the wise choices are. And yes, there are potentially catastrophic consequences to choosing unwisely, but it's impossible to predict how things will go exactly. Kind of like life in general.
I'm more comfortable with Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee than I was back in January, or on Super Tuesday in March. He's grown on me, especially since he picked Paul Ryan as his running mate. Romney himself is not thrilling, but he's competent. The country needs competence right now. It needs a grownup in the Oval Office. So although I'd love to see another Reagan emerge from the cultural mist, I'll be more than happy with a Romney who has sound fiscal instincts and is advised by Paul Ryan. Even Reagan was not the Reagan of popular myth and revered memory until after he had left office. I don't ask to fall in love with my political representatives. It's not a reality TV show like "the Bachelorette." I do ask that my political representatives are not so in love with themselves that they forget their calling to serve the people.
Mark Steyn has a great article this week in National Review Online. Please read it and, if you've ever heard him speak, imagine his voice reading it aloud; it adds greatly to the experience. I am utterly envious of his wit... there are some phrases I might have come up with on my own after a great deal of thought, but he makes it look effortless, particularly in the 7th paragraph. "The apotheosis of narcissistic leftist myopia." That is a phrase for the ages.