A Sea-Change

November 4, 2009 at 5:30 pm (By Amba)

Something rich and strange is happening.  It thrills me but I’m afraid to breathe too loudly and blow it away.  That’s just my own this-is-too-good-to-be-true, oh-me-of-little-faith superstition; it says nothing about the solidity of the development.

Some of the best (most heartfelt and thoughtful) conservatives are moving a little bit centerward.

I don’t want to exaggerate this or misrepresent it.  It doesn’t mean compromising core principles.  It seems to mean, among other things, refusing to demonize those who disagree (even those fools who themselves demonize — I can at least foolize them, can’t I??) and looking for ways goodward more effective than shock tactics or absolutist insistence.  It means more persuasion and example and less rhetoric.  It’s a revulsion from posturing and from being led by the emotions [I mean this in the sense of “led by the nose”] into distraction and righteous deadlock.  It’s a willingness to rethink long-held positions, possibly coming to the same conclusions with better grounding.  It’s the courage not just to preach to the converted, because that doesn’t change anything.  It’s deciding that team sports is an unworthy model for American politics in the footsteps of the Fathers.

It’s not exactly centerward as much as it’s off the predictable grid, out from between two-dimensional poles.

Here’s an example:  a conservative who’s patiently and cannily pro-gay marriage.  Here’s a glorious example, a trumpet blast from The Anchoress, demonstrating that you can be passionate about being thoughtful and nondogmatic.  That’s key, because people making this move may find that they at first lose traffic.  Louder and lower exerts a stronger force on attention, which, like water, flows downhill.  People will go again and again to have their fears, rages, and preconceptions reliably stimulated and serviced.  It’s our human equivalent of a rat pressing a lever.  It’s a way of getting off, as predictable and sterile as porn.  In fact I’m going to coin a word for the pull of political invective:  zornography (from the German Zorn, rage or fury).

What’s good is that millions of people are now mad as hell at most of the political and media class, and this equal-opportunity alarm and disgust is propelling us in a new direction.  Perhaps some new words, like Anchoress’s, may be heard, and may fit people’s inchoate feelings like a hand in a glove.  A passion for independence gave birth to this country, and is its best hope of rebirth.

From my own tiny point of view, it feels like I moved their way, and now they’re moving my way — that’s so exciting!

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50 Comments

  1. PatHMV said,

    While I want to see the same approach as you describe, principled without being rigidly dogmatic and partisan, being polite to those with whom you have political disagreements, I don’t actually see much evidence that the approach is taking hold in the general public, or even in the political blogosphere. The Anchoress has always been as you describe. I’ve never heard of the other guy before, but his arguments don’t seem terribly new to me.

    And I certainly see no signs of similar movement on the left. As the AlarmingNews blogger notes, the pro-gay-marriage folks on the whole continue to respond to all debate and argument with “haters!” and other personal slurs, rather than reasoned debate. When the leaders (not the rank and file or random internet commenters, but the MSM columnists and the political leaders) of the left stop telling me I’m racist because I oppose much of President Obama’s agenda, THEN I will have some hope that our politics are changing.

  2. amba12 said,

    I agree with you, but I find it hard to believe there aren’t also people on, or from, the left who are civil and willing to listen. Or have they all already gone to the center? Each side tends to see only a caricature of the other, partly because the civil people are, well, quieter.

  3. Melinda said,

    the civil people are, well, quieter

    Or currently starting blogs that have nothing to do with politics. (Shameless plug; see link.)

  4. Randy said,

    Added a link to Desktop Icon on the blogroll, Melinda!

  5. amba12 said,

    Melinda!! You have a new blog!!! It’s about her “adventures in design and technology.” On the blogroll it goes!

    If you ever want to cross-post (or crossly post) here, just say the word!

  6. Melinda said,

    Thanks!

    The link says “Desktip Icon.” But I hope to have helpful tips, so it’s still sort of accurate.

  7. amba12 said,

    LOL! We added them simultaneously, Randy! So now we have both “Desktip Icon” and “Desktop Icon”. At least, I think that’s what mine says — I didn’t proofread too closely . . .

  8. michael reynolds said,

    I’m baffled as to how we could engage the anti-gay forces with rational argument.

    The anti-gay forces say, “It will destroy the institution of marriage,” and we say, “How?” And they have no answer.

    They say, “It threatens your family,” and we say, “How?” and they have no answer.

    They say, “It’s always been one man, one woman,” and we say, “It was not, in fact Abraham had a wife and a concubine. And in any event it used to be one white man and one white woman.” And they have no answer.

    They have no rational arguments. Their arguments are essentially:

    1. Eeewww!
    2. Jesus doesn’t like it.
    3. Eeewww!

    How are we supposed to engage rationally?

    Advance a rational argument, we’ll respond rationally.

  9. michael reynolds said,

    As for the proposition that conservatives are moderating, nothing could be further from the truth. Genuine conservative bloggers like Rick Moran are under constant attack from Teabaggers. The people who just very kindly handed us NY 23.

  10. amba12 said,

    Rick Moran IS conservatives “moderating,” if that’s the right word. He was just ahead of the curve. The extremes can and probably will stay extreme, and will continue to smear, scare, and name-call, but they need to stop dominating.

    As for gay marriage, there are people who follow the Bible who think “male and female created he them” and “lying with a man as if with a woman = abomination.” You and I can put this in the historical context of the attempt to overcome paganism, which actually was in many ways an advance, making possible both individualism and compassion, although humans being what we are it was a crooked advance, the way a sailboat tacks, with a dark side. But there are people who take the Bible as their instruction book for life, and I know you think they are idiots, but they also think you are an idiot, and diversity of belief has to be tolerated and protected because if you can get power and overrule them, they can do the same to you.

    Therefore, if gay marriage offends a plurality of Americans, as a practical matter right now you have to live with that fact with the least harm. The aggressive attempt to rush gay marriage into law only hardens the resistance; you get a backlash making even civil unions unconstitutional in a number of states, which in my view is insane.

  11. Peter Hoh said,

    From the Anchoress: voters -who now understand that they were nothing but grifter’s marks in 2008

    That’s moving toward the center? That’s not vilifying the other side?

    Unless the Anchoress has some history of making the same claims about voters being grifter’s marks in 2004 and 2000 and just about every other election in my lifetime, then I’m seeing the same-old same-old.

  12. PatHMV said,

    Peter, if you think that tepid statement qualifies as vilifying the other side, you must be absolutely appalled at the President’s regular remarks.

  13. amba12 said,

    Old habits die hard.

    I guess I should say that she’s begun vilifying the right rather than stopped vilifying the left. That’s progress! Also she actually let on that Owens was the best candidate for NY-23 from the constituents’ point of view.

  14. Peter Hoh said,

    In an attempt to make a secular case against same-sex marriage, Maggie Gallagher writes: Same-Sex Marriage sends a terrible message to the next generation: alternative family forms are just as good as traditional families, children don’t need a mother and a father, and marriage is about adult desires for affirmation or benefits, not about the well-being of children.

    To which I would respond, this has already happened — for heterosexuals — through liberalization of divorce and remarriage laws. A great deal of what privileged marriage, in the eyes of society and the state, had to do with the idea of a lifelong bond, and the idea that children were nurtured and supported within that bond.

    Marriage is now a temporary arrangement. The state actually is a willing accomplice in the dissolution of marriage. Though it might be a rare instance, the state would give more weight to the desire of the partner who wishes to break the contract than to the spouse who does not.

    We live in an era in which one can divorce his or her spouse to marry an affair partner. Is it really that much of a leap to accept the marriage of two men or two women?

    As one sign holder put it at the recent march in D.C.: If Liza [Minnelli] can marry two gay men, why cant I marry one?

  15. Peter Hoh said,

    Yes, Pat, as a matter of fact, I don’t like it when the President vilifies his opponents.

  16. amba12 said,

    Peter, you’re quite right about that. It’s almost as if gay marriage as a threat to straight marriage is a red herring to divert attention from divorce.

  17. amba12 said,

    The other thing I don’t get about the opposition to gay unions is the implication that it’s a threat to society’s reproducing itself. Even if you assumed gay people didn’t reproduce, this affects a pretty constant <10% of the population.

  18. Donna B. said,

    I wonder why there is such a push for gay marriage. Why would they want to subject themselves to the screwed up arbitrary mess that is family court?

    Then again, the arbitrary rules about hospital visitation, health insurance coverage, property, etc are just as much a problem.

    Maybe the ultimate outcome will be a better institution for heterosexuals too, if both sides can start talking to each other.

    Big if.

  19. amba12 said,

    Even as a heterosexual, there is a huge difference in how you’re treated in a hospital if you can say “I’m his wife,” “I’m her husband,” as opposed to being there to see your friend, lover, or partner.

  20. amba12 said,

    But even apart from the practicalities, there’s something generative and constructive in saying, “This is the person I love, and I’m making a life with him/her.” I think that contributes something to society — a building block, if you will — even before, and whether or not, there are children. The great irony is that now gay people who want to marry seem to be taking the institution more seriously than straight people, so many of who seem to take the institution pretty lightly. There’s truth in Maggie Gallagher’s observation that many people now seem to look on the primary purpose of marriage as self-fulfillment or self-gratification. But that is a problem that has no special connection to sexual orientation.

  21. jason said,

    The Anchoress? I struggled to get beyond the premise that Obama is somehow for silencing free speech (“free speech zones” came from Dubya), or that he’s taking away rights (torture came from Dubya, as did warrantless wiretapping and invasion of privacy, as did incarceration without trial and having no access to counsel…). I’ll keep looking for similar rants against that regime when the arguments would have indicated sense and centrism, thoughtful, nondogmatic passion when it counted. Otherwise I see the same ol’ right’s right and left’s wrong and let me wrap it up in disarming centrist words.

    Though I’ll add, if one can get beyond the dripping partisan venom, the poorly communicated point of the post is sensible and what I’ve always believed (the two-party system retards and diminishes our voice, discredits and destroys the way our government was intended to work). It’s just unfortunate that cognitive dissonance won out and the desire to bash ‘the other guy’ came through loud and clear.

    Unfortunately the idea of civility and centrism died before we got to the first comment. Pat starts it off with the anticipated “But they said… And they did… I won’t until they…” Pat, you killed Annie’s point right there. Dogmatic, narrow view of the world where you’re right and they’re wrong, and you haven’t any responsibility in moving the country in the right direction so long as you can find fault with ‘the other guy’ and use that to justify your stoicism and unflinching partisanship.

    As for the gay marriage thing: it’s a matter of equality, plain and simple. Rights, taxes, inheritance, medical care and decisions, and on and on it goes. Annie’s point about it not impacting reproduction is valid; more to the point, homosexuality exists throughout nature in thousands of species, yet it hasn’t caused the world to end. It hasn’t even impacted the longevity of a single species in which it’s been documented. Some might argue sensibly that it’s nature’s way of trying to control populations by ensuring that everyone who can reproduce doesn’t actually go off and do it.

  22. amba12 said,

    homosexuality exists throughout nature in thousands of species

    Exactly true, and — like human heterosexuality — in all possible forms, from absent-minded mounting of a nearby conspecific to devoted lifetime pairing.

    Many birds are “socially monogamous” but, it’s now been proven, a substantial minority screw around. Ungulates and elephant seals have harems. Dolphins commit gang rape. Male seahorses get “pregnant.” Male bat-eared foxes and jacanas (birds that walk and nest on lily pads) do virtually all the child-rearing. If you can imagine it, you can find it. Plus some arrangements you could never have imagined.

  23. amba12 said,

    Your comment also illustrates something else: that we are perhaps not vigilant enough about threats to liberty from our own side of the aisle, and overly mistrustful to the point of paranoia of the other side of the aisle — a state of affairs much inflamed by the Limbaughs and the Kos’s. Maybe we should practice some combination of giving everyone credit for being a sincere patriot and at the same time hold everyone (at least, every career politician) in cynical suspicion of being a self-interested hypocrite. Treason is rare. Venality is rampant.

  24. amba12 said,

    Zornography is a real phenomenon. Rush and his ilk on both sides (though the Right is more skilled at it) gain ratings by whipping up people’s fear and rage. And let’s face it, there is a certain emotional satisfaction in having one’s fear and rage whipped up. We’re built to hate; it energizes. But this business of portraying the other side as Hitler or Stalin has poisoned everything. Only the guys and gals with the ratings and book sales are profiting from it.

    There are real discussions to be had. In health care, for instance, there are people (like my doctor sister) who genuinely believe a single payer system like France’s or Canada’s (where the gov doesn’t run the medical system, but pays it) is more efficient, cheaper, and less bureaucratic, as well as fairer, than a private-enterprise-dominated system. Then there are others who genuinely believe that anything government-subsidized is a wasteful time bomb and a sinister encroachment on our vital freedoms. Evidence can be marshalled on both sides. Some of this is real and some of it is ideological tribalism and superstition. (For example, my siblings and I were raised liberal, and believing is seeing. My sister is predisposed to see government as benign and business as maleficent, just as people on the right are predisposed to see government as evil and business as noble.) We never get so far as to genuinely and thoughtfully examine the evidence for the opposing point of view. It would be interesting to have a kind of health care jury trial.

  25. Serving up hot links… » The Anchoress | A First Things Blog said,

    […] like this post of Annie’s, not because she kindly links to me, but for this, which expands brilliantly on my post from […]

  26. Peter Hoh said,

    Zornography? That’s a new word to me. At first I thought you were mashing up zoology and pornography, regarding the wide range of sexuality in nature, but that’s not supported by following sentences.

    Did you mean xenophobia?

    This idea that the other side is “the other” seems especially heightened lately. I heard Michelle Bachmann on Glenn Beck’s radio show declaring that the only way to stop this government takeover of healthcare was for real Americans to tell their Congressional representatives that they don’t want this. She kept going over the “real Americans” bit. For all the BusHitler nonsense from the Michael Moore left, I don’t think I heard any prominent Dems trying to put forth the idea that only their supporters were real Americans.

    As I understand it, the current scheme is not much different than that put through by Romney, as governor of Massachusetts. Size and scope, of course, are different, and I’m aware that there are problems with how that has worked out in Massachusetts. However, I’d be real impressed if anyone can find a quote from any of the Right Wing Noise Machine critical of that plan back when Romney was putting that plan through.

    I don’t believe that this health insurance/healthcare reform is a good one, but the response from the loudest of those opposed is enough to make me ambivalent.

  27. Peter Hoh said,

    Whoops! I see that I missed that part of the post where you coined zornography.

    I’ll blame my glasses. I need a new pair, but they take a back seat to some more pressing needs around the home.

  28. PatHMV said,

    Peter… no, the prominent Dems only put forth the idea that anybody opposed to their ideas was in favor of torture, made them not proud to be Americans, and want people to die from lack of healthcare.

    The current heathcare scheme is, I think, pretty different from the Massachusetts plan. For one, the increase scope is a different in quality, not quantity. Among other things, it impacts federalism concerns, and assumes that the nature of the problem is identical in each state, removing a great deal of flexibility and potential for experimentation at the state level. Two, Romneycare has not been a huge success, and is, as I understand it, currently destroying the Massachusetts budget. Three, I can’t find quotes from Rush at the moment, but I would challenge you to find any statements from the “Right Wing Noise Machine” speaking strongly in favor of it. At most, it was ignored as an issue during the 2008 primary season. My own recollection is that quite a few Republicans spoke out fairly strongly against the plan… but at any rate, it was a state-level plan, not a national one, so one would not expect as much national attention to be paid to it. If their was any silence to it, is surely does not equal consent, nor is it proof that they are being only partisan in their opposition.

  29. jason said,

    “[T]he prominent Dems only put forth the idea that anybody opposed to their ideas was in favor of torture, made them not proud to be Americans, and want people to die from lack of healthcare.”

    Nice dodge, Pat. Don’t address the inadequacies of your own remarks and views. Instead, make it about ‘the other guy.’ Color me surprised… It’s all about partisanship with you, isn’t it? It can’t possibly be that you’re looking at the world through tinted glasses. Instead, it’s always their fault.

    I’ll keep harping on my centrist and apolitical premises unless and until you see them as a call to arms. Not because I fault you for blindness, but instead because I think you’re capable of much more than this. As I wrote previously:

    The world through eyes other than our own becomes a different thing. When seen from someplace else, we become alien, different, unrecognizable.

    Then:

    Would that I might once see the world through the eyes of someone else, see the beauties they see that I miss, see the marvels they ponder that I ignore.

    And finally:

    We are what we do, not what we feel, not what we believe, not what we think.

  30. Icepick said,

    For all the BusHitler nonsense from the Michael Moore left, I don’t think I heard any prominent Dems trying to put forth the idea that only their supporters were real Americans.

    Nancy Pelosi has crepeatedly compared those opposed to the Democratic takeover of healthcare as Nazis. Harry Reid has made similar claims. So spare me the chest beating over the remarks of some back bencher from the other side.

    Nice dodge, Pat. Don’t address the inadequacies of your own remarks and views. Instead, make it about ‘the other guy.’

    Given that the comment Pat was replying to was making the claim that the Dems are largely above this sort of thing his comment was not a dodge but a correction. And you accusing anyone of partisanship is funny. Have you ever met a Republican you didn’t despise? Have you ever met a Democrat that you didn’t worship?

  31. jason said,

    As someone who voted ONLY Republican for 35 years, Icepick, I’ll assume you don’t know me at all, that you haven’t a clue about my nonexistent political affiliations (never been part of a party, never been a registered this or that, but voted more than three-quarters of my life as a conservative), and that you’re responding with shallow intent and shallow knowledge.

    In order of your questions: Most and few.

  32. jason said,

    Sorry: That was few and most. My apologies, Icepick, as I incorrectly responded to you. Please accept my clarification as I reversed my previous answers.

  33. Icepick said,

    Annie, I see no move to the center. I see a move away from both parties, indeed from the whole governing class, by those that feel that both “sides” are only out to screw the public at large. Instead I am reading and hearing more comments like this:

    I’m pissed beyond words. Corruption, lies, malfeasance, blatant market manipulation, currency debasement, treason.

    In times like these we need patriots. People willing to take matters into their own hands.

    THE LOOTING MUST STOP! Why work? Why pay taxes? Why vote? Our government is pathetic. I quit. Find someone else to enslave, jackasses.

    I’m even hearing comments like this from African-Americans and Puerto Ricans, who one can safely presume are Democrats. And I don’t mean just online. I hearing this in person in real life all the time now.

    Increasingly people seem to be convinced that the system ahs been stacked against them, and indeed it has. Whenever you see the government taking action that makes no sense (like today’s extention of the first-time homebuyer’s credit) just remember this:

    the guiding principle of law is to decide whatever creates the most amount of legal work
    the guiding principle of politics is to decide whatever creates the most amount of goodwill from powerful people
    the outcomes are rational if you set up the problem correctly

    The governing class* had best hope things start improving soon, or the dams make break. If they do, a lot of these snobby types are going to find themselves about a head shorter. (I find myself thinking of Louis XVI a lot these days.)

    * The governing class consists of both parties, Big Business, Big Labor and the professional media. Oh, and lawyers. After all, the government is by, for and of the lawyers these days.

  34. jason said,

    Given that the comment Pat was replying to was making the claim that the Dems are largely above this sort of thing his comment was not a dodge but a correction.

    No, it was a selective response to avoid facing partisanship accusations. I’m still waiting on a response to my comment. Which I suspect will be a wait longer than my lifespan.

    And you accusing anyone of partisanship is funny.

    Hello, Pot, this is Kettle…

  35. amba12 said,

    Ice: the alliance between Big Government and Wall Street is the creepiest of all.

    Maybe what people are waking up to is that the big partisan football game is a distraction.

  36. amba12 said,

    Some hate Big Government, others hate Big Business. But the problem is Big. And all the Bigs are coalescing (and, as L.-F. Céline once wrote, “exchanging strawberry baskets”).

  37. pathmv said,

    Jason, your initial comment went at length about “Dubya” and falsely claimed that he initiated “free speech zones,” and repeated the usual talking-point opposition to his policies aimed not at Americans but foreign terrorist suspects. You want civility, do what I do, and make it a point to always show respect to the office, at least, by referring to President Bush and President Obama, rather than resorting to childish nicknames.

    I point out Democratic inadequacies because the initial post said, essentially, “oh look, signs of conservatives turning away from their hateful rhetoric.” I’ve spent a great deal of time on “centrist” leaning blogs the past 4 or 5 years, and I regularly see self-proclaimed “centrists” tut-tutting about Republicans, but very rarely see them call out Democrats for the same failings (this is a broad generalization, of course, and there are plenty of exceptions, but the trend is there nonetheless). So yes, when I see what appears to me to be another example of a centrist calling out Republicans but not Democrats for behavior which both engage in, I tend to point that out.

    Which, exactly, of “my side’s” inadequacies are you accusing me of dodging? Your whole litany of “Dubya” nonsense? Must we rehash the debate the whole country has been having for the last 5 or 6 years in every single comment thread discussing politics?

  38. pathmv said,

    By the way, my comment at #28 was addressed to Peter, whom I know to be a good and decent person, although we disagree on many political issues. He stated that he saw a qualitative difference between prominent Democrats and their criticisms of Republicans, and the criticisms by prominent Republicans of Democrats. I was, thus, directly responding to an assertion that Democrats are, in some way and at some level, superior to Republicans at this civility thing. I’m not sure how that constitutes dodging any issue. I did not say that Republicans never did anything wrong or uncivil, just pointed out that it’s a bipartisan problem. I’m not sure why you find that so objectionable, Jason.

  39. amba12 said,

    There seems to me to be no question that the further reaches of both sides engage in distortion, exaggeration, scaremongering, and name-calling. The only difference I can discern is that those on the Right who do this professionally (incitement, fomenting under the name of entertainment?) are more skilled and successful than those on the Left. The rank and file, however, are running neck and neck.

    Someone on Twitter was just decrying the use of a picture of heaped-up corpses from a concentration camp on an anti-health care bill sign. I couldn’t agree more that that is disgusting and outrageous. But if she was morally superior to the sign-bearers, I asked her, why did she call them “teabaggers”? I found myself saying “Mirror images shouldn’t throw stones.”

  40. amba12 said,

    “What was learned Tuesday is that the American voter is absolutely, totally, unremittingly disgusted with both political parties.” — Daniel Henninger, WSJ

  41. jason said,

    LOL! You tickle me, Pat. I clearly failed to speak with clarity when I said “free speech zones” came from Dubya; ‘President George W. Bush’ didn’t create them, though under his presidency they became a violent and obvious repression of Constitutional rights. No other executive used them as blatantly or as obtrusively as he did. Check your history–as I had to do to remind myself that I spoke incorrectly.

    I inferred a wrong through my lack of typographical clarity. Though he solidified them into a violent infringement of rights, he obviously didn’t create them. I stand corrected–and I happily admit I was wrong.

    I point out Democratic inadequacies because the initial post said, essentially, “oh look, signs of conservatives turning away from their hateful rhetoric.”

    Yes, because that makes perfect sense. That conservatives might be moving away from extremism and toward a fellowship with other humans seems a perfect time to point fingers. Had Democrats done the same thing, as Icepick so aptly attempted, it would have been a grand opportunity to accuse and disparage “the other guy” for being anti-American and anti-common sense and anti-whatever. But let’s not get bogged down in details. It’s about how those people are bad and we’re good no matter the point. I’m with you.

    I’m more than laughing at your entitlement to calling President Bush (the second) something other than Dubya. Truth be told, I “oopsed” that much as you did with “Carter was depressing…” (http://ambivablog.typepad.com/ambivablog/2009/01/to-choose-our-better-history-.html?cid=145752502#comment-6a00d8341c638553ef010536e1f1d5970b) and various other comments (Shall I dredge up all your remarks from Ambivablog where you made similar mistakes?).

    No matter: I stand corrected. And rightly so. I’ve always said the office deserves respect–no matter the office so long as it stands in the cusp of public government. I was wrong–quite wrong–to say ‘Dubya’ and to infer he should be referred to as anything less than a President of the United States. Like President Carter, as you no doubt agree.

    I “repeated the usual talking-point opposition to his policies aimed not at Americans but foreign terrorist suspects…” Yes, that’s why my comment applies to a US citizen named José Padilla. Because he was held without trial, in violation of his rights, in direct contradiction of our sacred Constitution. Because he was not an American. Right?

    Anyway… Done here. Best regards.

  42. jason said,

    My bad on the blockquote. Obviously I’m typing with my elbows lately…

  43. jason said,

    By the way, my comment at #28 was addressed to Peter, whom I know to be a good and decent person, although we disagree on many political issues.

    OMG! Thank goodness someone else knows they don’t need to show respect or common sense unless they’re dealing with someone they already know–even if they vehemently disagree with them. Because strangers are evil, vile, devilish things who don’t deserve our best manners but instead should be treated like so much garbage. And “gawd” knows I’m a stranger around these parts and haven’t a sensible thing to say.

  44. Melinda said,

    Dolphins commit gang rape.

    Hopefully not of tourists at Sea World.

  45. Randy said,

    LOL, Melinda!

    Amba: Thanks for the tip about the Henninger piece. Interesting take on things and some great lines. too:

    That electorates in two politically significant states, led by the widening independent movement, could swing within one year from enthusiasm for electing Barack Obama to support for Virginia’s OK Republican Bob McDonnell and New Jersey’s lackluster Chris Christie is simply astonishing….

    Independent voters across the U.S. have become like the massive cattle herd John Wayne drove from Texas to Kansas in “Red River.” These voters are spooked and on the run, a political stampede that veered left in November 2008 and now right a mere year later. They will keep running—crushing incumbents, candidates and political models of the left and right—through November 2010 and onto 2012 until they find a person or party capable of leadership appropriate to our unsettled times. And yes, Virginia, the possibility of a man on a white horse in 2012 is not out of the question.

    The signal event of the 2008 presidential election was the day in September when Sen. John McCain “suspended” his campaign to deal with the financial crisis. Within 48 hours, his candidacy stood naked. Mr. McCain’s instincts were right; The American people wanted leadership. But he didn’t have a clue how to provide it. The restless herd ran toward Barack Obama….

    Unless leadership emerges equal to the new world voters see they have fallen into, volatility in America’s election returns is going to be the norm for a long time.

    He just may be right.

  46. Peter Hoh said,

    Pat wrote this summary of an earlier comment I made: He stated that he saw a qualitative difference between prominent Democrats and their criticisms of Republicans, and the criticisms by prominent Republicans of Democrats. I was, thus, directly responding to an assertion that Democrats are, in some way and at some level, superior to Republicans at this civility thing.

    This is a misreading of what I wrote. I would never assert that Democrats are superior to Republicans at this civility thing. As I see it, Democrats are rather clumsy in their efforts to frame the opposition, and that ineptitude hardly qualifies as grounds for moral superiority.

  47. amba12 said,

    Now I’m regretting posting this at all. Politics just makes everyone mad at each other.

    I like seeing diehards break ranks, even in small ways. I like seeing people say new things. I like seeing the ranks of independents swell, whether they are coming from the left or from the right. I like seeing a break in the unrelenting mutual demonization even if it is not consistent or perfect.

    I’ve never thought that either Bush or Obama was evil, stupid, or treasonous despite having beefs with both of them (and having voted for neither of them). I’ve never thought that America was coming to an end because of the right or left versions of its destiny; we’ve survived both before. The refusal to see one’s opponents as human, American, and well-intentioned (with the usual admixture of one-eyed sight, vanity, and venality) — that could bring America to an end.

  48. amba12 said,

    ineptitude hardly qualifies as grounds for moral superiority. LOL!

  49. amba12 said,

    Melinda: a captive dolphin once did start getting amorous towards my little sister, who was swimming with him. She was about ten years old. They yanked her out of the tank rather than let the experiment play out.

  50. karen said,

    Didn’t some woman in Switzerland or Holland(or somewhere)legally marry a dolphin?

    And, ps to this post– you and i, amba- both know Anchoress isn’t a lock-step kinda gal. Neither are you. THAT is the good thing about this post, this blog and why i read you both so many times a day:0). i may be a questionable lock-step(p)-ed hayseed myself- but, damn- i’ve got the best taste- lol!!

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