Amid all the Iowa caucus fallout, one thing

Obama winning is pretty interesting, Huckabee winning doesn’t surprise me at all. (And seeing the amounts of griping over that latter fact at the usual locations — NRO, Hewitt, RedState among others — is less surprising. Entertaining, though. Very entertaining. And I admit I have to wonder what a certain Mr. Limbaugh will say tomorrow…)

No, the one thing is the use of a particular phrase among certain conservative commentators — ‘identity politics’ — as applied to the GOP, negatively. Two samples:

Mark Steyn in NROville: “I’d also disagree with Ramesh’s idea that this was a good night for Christians reaching across the aisle. It would be truer to say that for a proportion of Huck’s followers there is no aisle: he’s their kind of Christian, and all the rest – foreign policy, health care, mass transit, whatever – is details. This is identity politics of a type you don’t often see on the Republican side.”

Bryan at Hot Air: “Depressing thought of the night. There’s little room to argue that Huckabee’s win wasn’t built on identity politics — he won decisively among voters who “share his values,” and Iowa’s GOPers are 60% evangelicals. On the other side, Obama beat Clinton across the board and among women, who ought to be her core. If she gets half the women’s vote, she wins. But she didn’t.

“So identity politics played a decisive role on the GOP side, and much less of a role on the Democrat side. That’s a reversal in the way the two parties tend to think and choose their respective leaders.”

There are other samples.

So why take note of it? Easy — the sheer…blindness at play. Utter, willful blindness, willful ignorance. These are the complaints either of fools or of practitioners of self-denial.

As long as I’ve been aware of the Presidential elections — dimly in 1980, clearly in 1984 and afterwards — ‘identity politics’ associating evangelicals with the GOP has been at work. Down the line. The equation of an activist, right-wing interpretation of American Protestant Christianity with support of the GOP wasn’t something that had evolved over time for me, it was a given. I could see it everywhere I looked, every time elections drew near. I knew who Jerry Falwell was before I was ten years old, and you can believe he wasn’t pulling for the Democrats. I knew who Pat Robertson was when he ran for President and he wasn’t a Democratic Party member. I knew who Karl Rove was targeting for getting out the vote for the current president. This wasn’t unknown or subtle stuff at all.

And now there’s this…this contemptible attempt at shock and surprise from Steyn, Hot Air, others over this result. It is an insult to the collective intelligence of American citizenry for them to pretend otherwise.

This is a bed that was long made. For the moment, at least, they’re lying in it, and they can’t pretend they didn’t notice where they were before this. Political Blogger Alliance

Is there a caucus today? Who knew?

It’s 2008! The election season can really kick into high!

*echoes, silence*

Now that it’s all finally here, it feels even longer to November than before. Just a personal take on my part, of course, but all the jockeying and last-minute get-out-the-vote dealing for Iowa and hot-on-its-heels New Hampshire has fully settled into somewhere between kabuki and chaos, with the result being a well-orchestrated, every-move-telegraphed entropy.

Stasis, ultimately, is the word here — it’s almost like there’s something waiting to be ridden out, that I can’t quite put my finger on. The acceleration long had been stuck in overdrive so everything just feels like par for the course. The endless amounts of commentary about it all, including my own low-key mutterings, just add to it.

The only thing I’ve read so far today that’s caught my interest is former McCain employee Dan Schnur basically confirming what had long been suspected — namely, Republicans sure like their candidates groomed and handed over on a plate without all that problematic discussion and debate. (Hey, you have a problem with that characterization, talk to Schnur, not me: “…we Republicans have generally been much more hierarchical as we choose our presidential standard-bearers….we’re not very good at chaos.”) I have, needless to say, been delighted over watching various right-leaning types bash each other these last few weeks, because the combination of philosophical tribalism, naked worship of power over all and the realization that each faction’s own pet causes have really only been tolerated at best by everyone else means that the only thing that might bind everyone together is that they hate Hilary Clinton. A stirring call to arms if ever there was one.

The Democrats interest me less in comparison in terms of their own squabbles. Everything about philosophical tribalism et al applies to them, of course, and anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves (probably even down to the Hilary Clinton thing, unless you’re her) — but there doesn’t seem to be as much in the way of screeching anger and fear at play over there. I’m thinking this is because anyone who identifies themselves as conservative these days realizes that they have a lot more to lose — not merely the White House, but just a lot more in the way of any sort of honest respect from outside observers instead of the usual backpatting and self-congratulation that typifies too much right-wing ‘talk’ these days. This Alicublog post, riffing on a truly strange TCS post that essentially says ‘it’s great to be conservative and stupid, and would we were more so,’ notes that ‘conservatives normally like to brag on their “good arguments.”‘ Very true, and you hear this all the time, implied or directly stated — that they’re more mature, thoughtful, wise.

Regrettably, a good chunk of the past seven years has conclusively demonstrated to a variety of starry-eyed believers — not to mention a good chunk of the apolitical, bored and increasingly irritated public at large — that conservatives in charge of the government are just as venal, short-sighted and irritating as anyone else in charge of the government. Funny thing is, of course, that many conservatives — taking their cue from Edmund Burke, who, in the finest vein of many current right-leaning thinkers, really enjoyed democratic revolutions at a distance but hated it when they started coming closer to home — have always argued that since humanity is mostly a disaster, conservatism is needed to help society from breaking down fully. That they overlook themselves as being complicit in part of the disaster by being human to start with is rather convenient, it must be said.

And so we see it at work, imperfect humans in a tizzy over other imperfect humans, even while they claim they’re all automatically better than the other side. As always, this can and does apply to both major parties. But right now the GOP deals with the greater burden of expectations, having wrapped themselves in an aura that they never really held and don’t automatically deserve. I don’t expect much, frankly — and it’s only January. Political Blogger Alliance