Jonah Goldberg

When Edwards says "fight," you can see in his face he means "punish." His proposals are meaningless compared to his canned rage. He vows to punish Congress by taking away its members' health coverage if they don't give the same coverage, for free, to everyone. It doesn't matter that he has no power to do that. What matters is that people understand their need is his justice.

Huckabee, who once promised to "take back this nation for Christ," has masterfully blended right-wing identity politics with feel-your-pain populism. "There's a great need in this country," Huckabee explained, "to elect someone who reminds them of the guy they work with, not the guy who laid them off."

He's largely right - and shame on us for it. I've never met an employer who likes cutting jobs. Yet the assumption behind Hucka-Edwardsism is that if we only had a president who understands - feels! - the pain of losing a job, people wouldn't lose their jobs.

This is just a variation on visiting the sensitive plumber instead of the detached surgeon. Businessmen have to make hard decisions based on the facts at hand. Isn't governing also supposed to be about making hard choices - not indulging your feelings or venting your demons?

And then there's Obama. He would not vent demons, we are told, but unleash angels. But he's yet another candidate representing emotion over intellect, passion over policy. The hardest choice he presents to us is to choose "hope." If we are brave or "audacious" enough to hope, we'll have whatever it is we're hoping for. Obama will transform us all, deliver us from history and our sins and bring about, in his words, a "kingdom" on Earth just by being Obama. Maybe there are some small truths scattered amid the mountains of such voter-wooing poetry, but spare me any talk that elections are about something other than the poetry.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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