One of the things that annoys me the most about football — well, other than the Colts having a decidedly subpar season — is how the pre- and post-game shows last as long, if not longer, than the games themselves. I like football, but endless prognostications and analysis beforehand, followed by equally endless rehashes afterwards, have the approximate excitement level of watching root beer go flat. C’mon, people. It’s neither that exciting nor important.
The same applies to politics. Hit a topic while it’s hot? Certainly. Maintain an endless postmortem after an election has concluded, or a bill has or hasn’t passed? I’d rather load software.
Having said that, a bit of analysis concerning the present dust-up within the conservative camp over the recent election is in order. Specifically, the Delaware senatorial campaign.
Personal investment in a candidate does not always follow the most logical of paths. There are times when employing heart as well as head when choosing who to support means accepting someone who logic dictates is less than perfect. Also, faith comes into play in not seeing candidates strictly via the usual litmus tests, but as human beings like we are. You know, imperfect people saved by God’s grace? When you go that way, it’s far easier to cut people some slack.
While this approach leads to a more pastoral approach to politics, it also reinforces the notion of taking it more personally than is the norm when someone slams your candidate of choice. One expects this from the other side; politics has become a blood sport, which goes a long way toward explaining the general populace’s disillusionment with most all things involving elected officials. If all one hears about any candidate is their favorite hobby consists of drowning puppies and kitties in-between foreclosing the mortgage on orphanages in the middle of fierce winter storms, it’s a tad difficult to whip up much support for anyone. A helpful hint for all wishing to entering the political arena: define who you are and what your platform is first and foremost. Then go after your opponent’s record, not your opponent personally. But I digress.
When the fire comes from your own side, it’s natural to wonder what’s the deal. Certainly there is room for healthy debate in the primary. That’s what they are for. But once the checkered flag waves and the voters have spoken, whining and carrying on about the results is so much shouting into the wind over having the temerity to not ask your permission for it to blow. Buck up and support the chosen candidate. If you can’t bring yourself to do so, then have the decency to clam up and not mount a rearguard action that has the same effectiveness as attempting to teach a pig to fly. You know — wastes your time and annoys the pig?
Bringing all this from general to specific, there was a ton of ammo used in the debate over the choice between Mike Castle and Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware senatorial primary. The division was sharp, with one side stating that no matter how liberal Castle’s voting record was, he was at least a Republican and apparently electable unlike krazee Christine, while the other insisted Castle was a no-go and O’Donnell was indeed a viable candidate. Neither side was inclined to give the other much credence, and the discussion became extremely toxic.
A seldom commented on element of this was how the Castle supporters had zero personal investment in him, while O’Donnell boosters often had a strong connection with her. It was the at best disregard, and far more often open disrespect, of this that did more than simple ideological differences to poison the atmosphere. Had the moderate element adopted an approach of saying look, we understand you like your candidate personally, and we’re not going to insult her or you for liking her, but here’s our case as to why Castle is a more viable candidate, fine. It didn’t happen. Instead, it was name calling times two: first against O’Donnell, then against those who supported her.
No one who has invested in a candidate receives their being slandered and insulted well. When the demeaning vibe is directly extended to the supporter, it’s on. And before anyone on the Castle side complains that those of us who supported O’Donnell were a bunch of meanies, kindly remember who threw the first mud. It was the Castle crew. End of discussion.
Once the primary was over and O’Donnell has won, the Castle side proved itself pathologically incapable of either letting go or laying off the slams against O’Donnell supporters. Be it the high flyers like Karl Rove or peashooters like Patterico, they simply couldn’t let it go. They piled on O’Donnell non-stop, whenever called out on it bleating it was all “honest debate.” No. It wasn’t all honest debate. There was nothing honest about any aspect of the discussion. It was spite and sour grapes masquerading as debate. It was personal and pathetic. It did nothing but further divide at a time when division was the last thing that was needed.
Not that O’Donnell ran a perfect campaign. She spent far too much time defending herself personally instead of attacking her opponent’s tax raising-happy record. And she lost.
At which point her detractors within conservative circles proceeded to start a victory dance that has yet to slow down.
All this does is confirm the impression that making it personal against her supporters was, and remains, the main objective of O’Donnell detractors. They have become so consumed with “righting” the wrongs they inflicted on themselves by blatantly disregarding the personal investment of her supporters that they are incapable of letting it go. They endlessly lecture in the manner of those who has designated themselves The Smartest People In The Room, and when this is commented upon immediately adopt the pose of one wrongfully wounded by friendly fire, seeking solace in the company of other level-minded, therefore like-minded, whiners. They are either unable or unwilling to grasp the fact they are the cause of their own misery. They are the embodiment of Jesus’ words: “They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: ‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’”
Note the words “to each other.” They excel at talking to each other over the injustices they have endured in the cause of trying to talk some sense into misguided fools who, oh, believe in people and engage heart as well as mind. But to those they propose to instruct? It’s all so much noise, filling space without providing substance.
And that is the annoyance of the ongoing debate between those who adhere to principle and the self-proclaimed pragmatic.
And is hopefully the last time I’ll feel the need to mention it.
Now, can we get back to today?