Monday, 17 January 2011

Who taught you how to mourn? The conservative reaction to Thursday’s memorial service betrays both their myopia and desperation. From the opening prayer—some “Indian tribal thing” according to Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff—to the ubiquitous complaints about the audience’s reaction to a speech that even The Corner awarded the highest possible mark, the implication is that there is but a single proper way to celebrate a life and that any deviation from said way diminishes those being memorialized. The problem with that argument is that it’s false on its face. Were I to die an Irish cop my life might be celebrated with drink and song. If I were Ronnie James Dio, my life might be punctuated by heavy metal. If I were Jim Henson, I would go to my grave to the sound of singing puppets. Plainly put, if you criticize the way someone runs a memorial service because it differs from how you would, you reveal more about yourself than you might think. For example, you reveal that you have likely never been close enough to someone of a different religion, race or class to attend a service for or with them. I can only imagine what critics of the memorial might do if they attended a Jewish one: “Why are these people screaming and ripping off their clothes? Why is everyone pinning shreds of ripped cloth to their suits? Who organized all these pins?” If you actually have been close enough to someone of a different religion, race or class to attend a service for or with them and are still criticizing this execution of this one, you reveal the emptiness of your criticisms and the baseness of your convictions. By attempting to whip into a frenzy those who have never attended a service outside their ilk, you demonstrate that you care more for the success of your political compatriots than you do those being mourned. But if a large part of your constituency consists of people who attend mega-churches and you complain about this: You reveal yourself as a member of the Church of SASQUATCH ISREAL and will never be able to refudiate those who rightfully mock you.
Trying to appear to be delivering on a promise Over at National Review I learn that Eric Cantor insists that Republicans will do "everything [they] can to delay and defund" health care reform because they are "about trying to deliver on our commitment, to make sure that the Obamacare bill does not take full hold and effect." Why doesn't he want it to take full effect? Because he knows that entitlement programs tend to be wildly popular. The logic is simple: if what Michele Bachmann calls "the crown jewel of socialism" succeeds, many of those previously uninsured voters will never vote Republican again. We know this. They know this. The base that Obama created in 2008 is far larger than the one the Republicans used to win the House in 2010 and they know that the 2012 demographics will look more like 2008 than 2010. The Republican's only option is to prevent Obama's base from further expanding, and the most effective way to do that is to delay the implementation of health care reform. Except they can't do that. The Senate will shoot them down. The President will veto them. So what can they do? They can spend the next two years "trying to deliver on [their] commitment," because as John Boehner said, "repeal means keeping a promise." Except it doesn't. What repeal actually means is creating and sustaining the appearance of trying to keep a promise. Failure to do so will shrink their newly established base and leave them as vulnerable in 2012 as they proved to be in 2008. Expect to see quite a bit of appearing to be trying to deliver on an undeliverable promise in the next few years.

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