Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Safire on Character

Today's Safire op-ed is an interesting combination of fluff, cheap-shots, and some genuinely good points about the states of America's two major parties today:

We also see the mark of character, or lack of it, in political parties. The Republican Party today is characterized by a mission to defeat terror while exporting freedom abroad, and a policy to restrain taxes while increasing social spending at home...The G.O.P. personality will split in a couple of years, as all huge majorities do in America. Idealistic neocons will be challenged by plodding, pragmatic paleocons, who, by fuzzing the party's present character, will someday lead it down the road to defeat.

First of all, I think he's dead-on that the G.O.P., and American conservatism in general, are going to undergo a major internal crisis during this next term. However, I don't believe that the "idealistic neocons" are going to be simply dragged down by the paleocons, but rather by a combination of their own naivete and hubris. You can see Safire predicting the downfall of the neocons and trying to ready an explanation that will put the blame on a simple inability to get others on board with their agenda.

If I were starting out in politics or its commentary today, I'd become a Democrat. That's because the party now is six disconsolate characters in search of an author.

Adlai Stevenson called 1952 Republicans "out of patience, out of sorts and out of office." That tight shoe now fits liberals, who have been drifting toward isolationism abroad and fiscal conservatism at home, which for Democrats is out of character. The spirit of Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson is needed to return the party to ideological consistency: interventionist at home and abroad.

He makes some cheap shots about the pathetic nature of the Dems and says that they are "bantam-weight," but he is right that the party would do well to remember the spirit of Scoop Jackson, and not to eschew the late Senator simply because his proteges are failures.

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