Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bah Humbug said the Gingrich

Right now politics leaves me unexcited. There is no fire in the race. The Republican primary is interesting as spectacle, not serious politics. The people who are weighing their votes tonight in New Hampshire seem sadly deluded, and the partisanship, a mirror image of the fervor I admittedly felt the last electoral cycle, almost infantile. With all the hope Obama generated, he has been impotent to move the debate forward on any issue that matters to me. At great cost and in the face of undying ideological opposition he managed to pass his health care reform. But the Obama health care package, as far as I'm concerned, is papering over the fact that our health care costs are sky high because we are the most unhealthy people on the planet. Until our lifestyle changes, nothing else matters. At least Obama might be cognizant of that. These Republicans are too tied to barbecue and white bread to move the dial on anything of substance. Except maybe Ron Paul who wants to take us back to the days before the Civil War, when slaves were raising all our food not mechanized agriculture. But I don't know, that seems a little scary to me.
So Obama does not generate much loyalty. His world view resonates with the college educated because it is generally rational and based on science and accepted social theories and not just on the works of Ayn Rand or the Spanish Inquisition. But I think his failure to overcome the Washington gridlock and his caving in on climate change policy have left me feeling that his feet are made of clay. I think David Brooks is right in his analysis in his latest NY Times column that the root problem Obama faces is that although Americans may agree with his premises and even his instincts, they generally are distrustful of the ability of government to deliver. And Washington's gridlock is a key component of that distrust. Hence the appeal of Ron Paul, who knows one true thing and sticks to it like a hedgehog, namely that the government must shrink. I agree with his premises but don't trust his single-minded reliance on the conspiratorial lens through which he views the world. However, Paul, not Romney, is the man of the hour, in my opinion, whatever the results tonight. Even if he doesn't win the nomination he will heavily influence the policy positions of both parties come November and beyond.
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