Sounds of the Animal Kingdom

“I could buy a parrot and train it to say, ‘tax cuts,’ but at the end of the day, it’s still a parrot, not a conservative.”

Delaware Republican Party Chairman Tom Ross on Tea Bag Cipher Christine O’ Donnell

That quote was uttered by the chairman to the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne before said trained parrot defeated 9 time U.S. Representative and former Delaware Governor Mike Castle in a primary yesterday evening.   Continuing with the animal motif, Mr. Ross had previously stated that Ms. O’ Donnell was “not a viable candidate for any office in the state of Delaware” and that “she could not be elected dog catcher.”  Those remarks would actually earn Ross death threats.

Who would have ever thought that the United States depicted in Mike Judge’s brilliant film Idiocracy would become reality so quickly?  Dionne’s piece is titled “The Tea Party: From Rebellion to Absurdity,” but absurdity isn’t even a strong enough word to describe the candidacy and actual primary victory of Ms. O’ Donnell, whose incompetence, ineptitude, and fringe religiosity is a bridge too far for even Karl Rove. Rove’s, unprecedentedly truthful, comments haven’t earned him death threats, yet, but a bunch of conservatives are calling him an effete liberal traitor (really) and other colorful, witty things.   For once, I agree with the man.  From what I’ve seen O’ Donnell makes George W. Bush seem like Stephen Hawking.  If you think that’s harsh, revisit the quote at the outset which was uttered by the chairman of the Delaware Republican Party.  Tea Party candidates have knocked off siting Republicans like Bob Bennett all year, but, tellingly, this is the first time state and national Republican leaders have spoken out so vociferously and vehemently against an insurgent challenger.  O’ Donnell, has myriad personal and financial question marks surrounding her and according  to an ex-aide “was living on campaign donations-using them for rent and personal expenses.”  Being capable of that sort of brazenly fraudulent graft and hucksterism usually favorably impresses state and national GOP brass, which again shows you how extreme this woman truly is-that it does not in her particular case.

When George W. Bush was installed into the Presidency and started practicing his special brand of reverse alchemy turning gold into rubbish and ruin many people in the blogosphere started recalling the startlingly prescient H.L. Mencken quote which said:

“The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.
The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

This quote can be applied even more strictly and presciently to the case of O’ Donnell’s victory in an effort to discern why America is indeed hurtling headlong into Idiocracy, when you isolate, what I believe to be, the key passage, which is: “As Democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more, the inner soul of the people.”   Mencken was referring specifically to the office of the Presidency, but the “inner soul” of a frightening number of Americans is what is being honestly reflected in the ascendancy of people like Christine O’ Donnell, and that’s what is so troubling.   Nobody, particularly conservatives, wants to admit that an honest self-examination of the American psyche and collective consciousness would uncover traumatic and highly unflattering things, completely at odds with the notion of “American Exceptionalism” taken as gospel by many on both sides of the political spectrum.  A perfect example of what I’m talking about can be found in The Washington Post, which ran a story on Monday where they looked at the divisive nature of O’ Donnell/Castle primary and it featured the following quote (emphasis mine):

“‘Christine O’Donnell is just an ordinary citizen, and that’s what I like about her,'” said Greg Gergen, a Wilmington Republican who said he will vote for O’Donnell.”

The quote emphasizes the importance of the “inner soul” of the people and how the reflection of that soul in candidates like O’ Donnell is what guides their votes.  This voter feels ordinary and wants a national leader to reflect that quality as well.  The problem with this is that many “ordinary citizens” I know can be found sitting in fast food restaurants talking about Lebron James, Lady GaGa and/or fantasy football.  I’m guilty of a some of those things as well, but I’m not running for office, you see.  The problem with “ordinary” is that the world is a bafflingly complex place, that more often than not calls for extraordinary intellect, discipline, intangibles, willpower, restraint etc. etc. to keep things from reverting to a bad, old-fashioned Hobbesian maelstrom.  Nobody wants to feel inadequate and be crushed under the heels of the dreaded “elitism” label, but the fact remains that worthwhile leaders should and do exhibit “elite” qualities and the trend of American voters looking at those qualities with disdain and/or as a negative is a big, big problem going forward and is one of the pillars of the accelerating slide into Idiocracy.


One Response to “Sounds of the Animal Kingdom”

  1. Ignorance isn’t Bliss « Left Hook Says:

    […] candidates like Christine O’Donnell as an act of self-glorification/self-recognition here. I used a quote from a Washington Post article where a voter was quoted as saying (emphasis mine): […]

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