Circus Maximus MMXVI: Glad I’m not a Kennedy

7 04 2016

Really, glad I’m not a Republican.

I’m mean—yeah, given my views, obviously—but at least I don’t think either of the Democratic candidates is a dumpster fire. I’m not particularly enthusiastic about either, but, like Rebecca Schoenkopf and the Wonketteers, I’m pretty much they’re both fine, they’re both good.

Which is to say: what I like about each is what I distrust about each: Clinton’s practicality and Sanders’s impracticality. I’d say Let’s try to merge ’em, but then we’d end up with someone like Rod Blagojevich: completely cynical and a little insane.

(As an aside: this horseshit about Clinton’s ambition to be president as somehow bad is, shall we say, pretty rich coming from the campaign of someone running for president. Yeah, I know this kind of petty shit crops up in all campaigns and from the best of candidates, but shees: still annoying.)

No, this is what we’ve got: two people who would have different styles of governing but who each a) care about good governance; and b) would accomplish about the same as the other. I’ve learned to keep my expectations low—please try not to make things worse and if you can make them even a little bit better that would be great, thanks—so unless Clinton or Sanders runs off screaming into the night, they’ll be fine.

Trump and Cruz, on the other hand, don’t meet even that basic non-screamer standard. Cruz creeps people out—his most enthusiastic non-paid supporters seem to be those who spend the least time with him—and Trump lacks even the barest competence.

Yes, Cruz is intelligent, and yes, Trump has a certain, um, panache, but when it comes to governing, neither much cares: Trump supporters want to burn everything in their quest for GREATNESS and Cruz’s, well, christ, those who aren’t supporting him merely to stop Trump are waiting on some kind of red-white-and-blue Rapture.

Which is to say, if I’m a Republican who wants a president who can actually preside, I’m lookin’ at these two and thinking, Oh, boy.

I’m not concern trolling: I think Republicans as a whole are getting exactly who they deserve, and if either of those whos didn’t have a shot at the presidency, i.e., a chance at wrecking things for the rest of us, I’d be clapping in glee.

Still, I do feel a bit of sympathy for the ordinary Republican who just wants someone who’s not a night-screamer, someone who’s just, y’know, fine.





Incompetence as credential

28 09 2010

You’ve heard the old line: Even the mediocre deserve representation.

A version of this was offered by Senator Roman Hruska of Nebraska, in defense of Richard Nixon’s nomination of Judge G. Harrold Carswell to fill a vacancy on the US Supreme Court, and a man many considered manifestly unqualified:

Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? We can’t have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos.

Ha ha, right?

Okay, but how about this: Christine O’Donnell, Senate candidate in Delaware, argues that her financial difficulties (being sued 5 times by her college for not paying bills, threatened foreclosure on her home, a declared income in March 2009-July2010 of under 6 grand) not only do not disqualify her from office, but that “I think the fact that I have struggled financially is what makes me so sympathetic.”

Or consider Michael Caputo, campaign manager for New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, who had a lien placed against his assets by the IRS: “Most people I know have had problems paying their taxes,” he said. “I am just like everybody else.”

And then, of course, there is the half-guv, who winked her way into political celebrity and decided that the problem with not knowing answers to basic questions was with the questions, not the not-knowing.

My expectations for political actors isn’t high, and no, I don’t think past problems ought automatically to disqualify someone from political participation. That Sarah Palin mucked about a couple of different colleges before she settled on one which worked for her, well, hell, so what: she was a college student, fer cryin’ out loud.

And financial and job difficulties, yeah, a lot of people have gone through them, and that doesn’t mean they ought to be banished from public life.

The problem isn’t with the difficulties, the problem is that these difficulties are brandished as a badge of honor: Whoo-hoo! I fucked up! Vote for me!

Hey, guess what, I’ve fucked up, too! Does that mean I should be a senator or vice president? Whoo-hoo!

Yes, I am in my bones a democrat (and civic republican—but that’s another post), but to state that the people ought to be involved in their governance is not to say that a people proud of their pig ignorance will govern well.

And no, you don’t need an Ivy League education (Go Big Ten!) or a Ph.D. in political science or even a college degree to govern well. But you need to pay some goddamned attention, and to do the goddamned work necessary to make yourself able to govern.

Mother Jones is instructive here: Sit down and read. Educate yourself for the coming conflict.

That’s just smart—and that, of course, is the problem.

h/t: Robert S McElvaine, HuffPo; Ginger Gibson (story pasted to anti-O’Donnell site); Michael Barbero, NY Times;