Reading post-2012-election news reports can be hazardous to one’s mental health, particularly for the sanity-challenged among us. But perhaps the singularly most prescient comments come from long ago—from the pen of America’s most profound novelist, Herman Melville, whose words in his powerful novel of deception and intrigue, “The Confidence Man: His Masquerade,” echo across the decades: “Any philosophy that, being in operation contradictory to the ways of the world, tends to produce a character at odds with it, such a philosophy must necessarily be but a cheat and a dream.”
A few days after the election of 2012 the very talented Michael Ramirez published a political cartoon that perhaps conveyed a more profound meaning than he anticipated. He depicted a pair of hands extending from star-studded sleeves (presumably from a mendicant Uncle Sam), which were held in supplication, as though waiting for a handout or petitioning voters to relinquish more of their earnings to the federal government.
With Halloween now in our rearview mirror, I find myself recalling when it used to be such a pleasant and harmless affair, with images of Peanuts characters dressed as witches or paper-bag shrouded scamps or hobgoblins (whatever they are) trudging from door to door, emitting the obligatory “Trick or Treat,” knowing that the tricks were non-existent and treats were plentiful, sometimes even nutritious? Can’t get scarier than that.
Strange things can happen when you turn on TV without checking the listings first. Thus, my casual clicking on recently initially spawned charcoal scenes against a background of menacing music, deep, thumping rhythms that pounded into those caverns of imagination where echoes of fear and foreboding dwell. It seems that one of the principal characters was on a mission to foil the evil machinations of those in charge of a secret facility, one created for the purpose of treating incorrigibles from hurting themselves or others, mostly others.
When Mitt Romney blurted out his now notorious 47-percent lament, liberal gaffe-o-meters went ballistic, acting as though he were an American Ebenezer Scrooge who had just shoved Tiny Tim Cratchit into a ditch and then burned down a crutch factory.
In September 1938 the British prime minister had a problem. The Third Reich’s psychopath-in-chief was scorching the airwaves in one of his trademark rants, this time about the supposed oppression of Germans living in Czechoslovakia. He threatened war unless Western nations caved to his demands, which was the last thing the British and the French wanted, with torrid memories of the last European conflagration still burning in their thoughts.
Consider this fictitious scenario: In the summer of 1950, President Thomas E. Dewey faced a national security crisis of extraordinary proportions—one that his advisors agreed likely would define his presidency.
In December 1828, South Carolina had 5,000 copies of John C. Calhoun’s “Exposition and Protest” printed and distributed throughout the state. A defiant document, Calhoun’s “Exposition” outlined a theory of constitutional interpretation first adumbrated in the infamous Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which asseverated the right of states to declare “null and void” acts of the federal government within their respective jurisdictions.
At 0227 hours on the morning of June 6, 1944, Lieutenant Robert Mathias saw the red light flash above the door of his C47 “Dakota” aircraft, signaling his men to get ready to parachute into a terrifying blackness that was streaked with machine-gun tracers and punctuated by exploding rounds from four-barrel 20-millimeter Flakvierling-38 anti-aircraft guns.
December 1941 is usually remembered by Americans as that fateful month when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, thus thrusting the United States into World War II. However, consider an alternate scenario: Adolf Hitler appears triumphantly before the Reichstag announcing the destruction of the Soviet Union, following the German capture of Moscow and the “cowardly escape of that war criminal, Joseph Stalin,” to somewhere in the vast Russian hinterlands.
When President Obama made his famous declaration about how he was confident that “that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” many observers figured the chief executive missed April Fools’ Day by a single digit.
Contemporary liberals fondly recall their progressive forebears from a century past, who railed against trusts and fought for social justice. Certainly, their forebears did much to make them proud; after all, who now could argue against measures that purified the water, ended child labor, compensated workers who suffered disabling accidents, and launched political reforms such as the initiative, recall, referendum, and party primary?
Amidst the hoopla, cheers, and ear-piercing whistles of enthusiastic approval for Republican presidential nominees at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, several themes emerged.
On December 16, 1944, the men of Lieutenant Lyle Bouck’s platoon had their all-night vigil interrupted by a pre-dawn fusillade of artillery rounds from a hundred German guns, their muzzle flashes punctuating the darkness like a volley of fireballs hurled from the pit of hell.
For the Obama administration, after nearly three years of railing against “millionaires and billionaires” and American free enterprise while touting a European-style welfare state, the rise of the mob must appear as a godsend. But mobs are dangerous.
The ink was barely dry on the asterisk in Jimmy Hoffa Jr.’s rant about taking out those “sons-of-b*tches”—referring to Tea Party members—when the vice president made his own contribution at a Labor Day rally. “This is a fight for the existence of organized labor,” the veep shouted. “You are the only ones who can stop the barbarians at the gate!” And the diatribes have continued, with the establishment of a website designed to track unfair comments made by those who, in President Obama’s words, want to “cripple” America. Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ snippet about telling the Tea Party to “Go to H*ll!” (that pesky asterisk again
Attempting to categorize conservatism in the 21st century runs the risk of plunging into the briar patch of academic labeling or the fever swamp of left-wing vitriol.
This brings us back to Congressman West, who is a role model of clarity against the din of left-wing prevarications about saving mythical grannies from non-existent legislation. Democrats are accustomed to smearing Republicans when they’re out of the room; they’re not accustomed to Republicans defending themselves.