Thursday, January 04, 2007

Al Gore, Save Us

by Bernie Quigley, for The Free Market News Network, 1/4/07

One of the first principles of the psychology of people in groups, first expressed by the father of modern psychology, William James, is that groups take their initial spark from an avatar or leader driven by the spirit. The group then selects leadership to encapsulate that spirit to bring it forward as it was originally perceived. The walls thickens over the ages and the spirit gets entrapped. No new thinking is allowed and the spirit withers. It happens in politics as well; they so love the avatar that they build a religion around him.

In politics it is called Personality Cult and the Democrats today are imprisoned in one. As with Peter the Great or Mao Tse-tung, when the avatar dies or is sent to exile, the faithful then seeks to send forth a spouse or offspring, thus to bathe in said avatar’s reflected light and image.

All parties and all groups must seek consensus. The problem, as James’ maxim suggests, is that consensus overtakes inspiration and the group falls stale. In business, you simply go out of business, and in a free country like ours, that is good for the imagination. But in politics, when the idea is dead, it continues its walk among the living.

It is the rank and file which kills the spirit. We are feeling it today up here in New Hampshire. Bill Shaheen, husband of a former Governor – who is called locally “a kingmaker” which is an interesting expression - reported that he talked to Hillary Clinton last month and advised her to delay her announcement for a few months to “get some stuff done” in Congress. Ruth Marcus, the middle-minded visionary of The Washington Post, makes the same point about Barack Obama. Maybe he’d make a better President after he “gets some stuff done.” It’s good advice to kids who want to be President: “get some stuff done” first.

My experience up here is that when these people get wrapped around it, you know you’re screwed. No doubt it is part of our own self deception, but we who live high up in the northernmost New Hampshire mountains where it used to be real cold, feel independent, strong and self-reliant. Wes Clark won last time at Dixville Notch. But down on the bottom edge of the state, John Kerry took the day.

I’ve no objection to moving the leading primaries somewhere else, because the spirit of this independent state has long been countervailed by the two southern-most counties. In recent years, economic colonists from Massachusetts have moved here from across the border. They are corporation and industrial people just like in Massachusetts. They are not brought here by independence of spirit. They just don’t like paying taxes.

Some of us here in the hills consider them to be outsiders. They are Massachusetts people and the southern counties of New Hampshire are an annex of Massachusetts. And when the rank and file speaks up, the voice is the same as you would hear in Massachusetts.

Mitt Romney, one of the more Libertarian of Republicans, tried to put a stop to it. When he became Governor of Massachusetts he cracked down on people who worked in Massachusetts and crossed the border to New Hampshire to avoid taxes. I received an email from his office last night soliciting funds, so he has all but entered the ’08 Presidential race. It’s a good sign: A race between Mitt Romney and Wes Clark would begin to restore our country to health again.

But then there is this: Shaheen told a local reporter that he believes there is a “huge” interest in Senator Clinton and dismissed critics who say the former first lady is a polarizing figure. This is the institutional voice of rank and file Democrats today, leading the party off a cliff.

The Senator from New York is a one-issue candidate and that issue has always been: Hillary for President.

Shaheen says she’s a good candidate because she forgave her husband for an indiscretion. I think he’s talking about his penchant for actually taking his pants down when a female aide would walk into his office. Or the Monica Lewinsky thing. I am quite sure that he is not talking about the pardon he granted to a lobbyist and an associate of Scooter Libby on his last day in office who made a million-dollar donation to his campaign. Senator Clinton likes that kind of money as well and so does the rank and file.

The Democrats have been crippled by Clinton Personality Cult. They are constantly put into the position of defending the indefensible. Bill Clinton was possibly the most corrupt Democratic President in American history and if the Democrats don’t get past the Clintons they will be finished as a major political party.

Now may be the time to review opinions of the Clintons. When Bill left office, The New York Times asked prominent Democrats their opinions:

Robert B. Reich, Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, said: “The seemingly interminable Clinton scandals are not the Democrats biggest problem, and merely distancing themselves from Bill Clinton (and Hillary Rodman Clinton) won’t restore the party’s soul. The Democratic establishment in Washington is no longer connected to the grass roots. The national party is nothing but a fund-raising machine.”

Author Kevin Phillips said: “Ralph Nader was right about the Democratic Party losing its soul to big donors and corporate money.”

Warren Beatty, actor and political activist said: “The Democratic Party has abdicated much of its soul to raise the money necessary to be elected . . . the party must, above all, face the fact of its own culpability in the odor of the legalized bribery that constitutes the way we finance our campaigns.”

It might already be too late for the Democrats. Personality Cult is often a death cough, as it was in Russia a hundred years ago. I kept scratching my head listening to the Democratic mayor of a major Southern city the other day on C-Span talking about how she saved the city. She inherited her post with a deficit of over a 100 million dollars. Then she hired Bain & Company to do an audit and supply suggestions. Would somebody please tell the mayor that the public figure most closely associated with Bain & Company and the founder of Bain Capital is Mitt Romney? Perhaps that will be the Democrats new direction: Run Oprah or Tom Hanks (or “a rock star”) for POTUS and hire Mitt Romney & Co. to run the country.

Senator Clinton’s ride has been appalling from beginning to end; from her questionable winnings in real estate to her endorsement of China’s “reaching out” to religious groups while China was literally sweeping Buddhists off the streets and sending them to prison and imprisoning and executing Tibetans by the tens of thousands. She is entirely scripted and she is crippled by decision making, but most of all her record on Iraq is indefensible.

It may seem odd that her supporters for the Senate in New York and now for President are widely opposed to the war in Iraq while she has giddily endorsed and supported it all along. But that is a feature of Personality Cult. There is no logic to it. It’s a love thing. And there is no logic to the Clintons persistence in Democratic politics when they are a post-seasonal political phenomenon almost to the point of embarrassment. Next to Joe Lieberman, who initiated the Iraq invasion, no one of either party supported this war so blindly and consummately as Senator Clinton.

Among those suggested for President so far, only Wesley Clark was right from beginning to end on the war in Iraq and by all rights, he should take the initiative in the upcoming Democratic primary. Obama could as well, but Obama will not hold up under scrutiny. The kind of extensive drug use described in his early autobiography may have been accepted in the Sixties and Seventies and perhaps still is today in liberal spas of the Beautiful People like Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, but it will not longer play among the common people in Tobaccoville, North Carolina and Haverhill, New Hampshire. And the victimization theme he claims in his book has run pretty threadbare. It will not draw much sympathy in the heartland.

But there is as I see it a problem of protocol General Clark could have in the upcoming race. If he runs he cannot well attack Senator Clinton’s position on Iraq in primary debates; it is a matter of protocol and personal dignity. He is from Arkansas and Bill is from Arkansas. He is long-time friends with the Clintons. And more important, he worked directly for and with Bill Clinton when Bill was Commander and Chief.

He can't well go after that President's wife now in this election and he is too much of a gentleman to do so. John Edwards can treat her directly as an equal as she is a Senate colleague. He can treat her as the situation requires. But Edwards, like Joe Biden who also wants to be President, voted for the Iraq invasion as well and they should both be held accountable.

The Iraq vote should be the touchstone of the Democratic primary. It was the test of bravery, personal integrity, character and judgment when bravery, integrity, character and judgment were needed.

If the Democrats hope to survive as a political party they need to fight this out in the upcoming primary no holds barred, with sticks and knives, until there is blood on the tracks and bodies left in piles on the floor. Al Gore should have a dog in this fight and it should be his fight of a lifetime. In many ways, he is the antithesis of the Clinton Condition, and The New York Times reports today that the Senator from New York is pressed to find out if he intends to run again. He is perhaps the only antidote to Clinton Personality Cult.

Gore was clear and credible on Iraq very early on. He is also well regarded by the rising generation. The Daily Kos gives him over 65% approval, whereas Senator Clinton barely registers. And he was there at the beginning. His integrity and his decent character were besmirched by the illegal and unethical practices and disgraceful personal behavior of the President who he served under and whose insidious legacy continues today to plague the Democrats. For whatever might be said of Al Gore – he showed terrible judgment in choosing Joe Lieberman as VP for starters – he has always been an honest and decent American with original concern for his country and for the world around him: He should not let his personal saga and his family’s long political history end like this.

The burial ceremonies for President Ford have reminded us of what decent people we Americans can be. Al Gore is a man like that as well. Perhaps only Al Gore can bring the Democrats back from space. The Clinton curse which has plagued this country now for almost two decades needs to come to an end this year. Perhaps only Al Gore can bring it to an end.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

AL Gore is old newspaper....forget it!