Saturday, August 01, 2015

Get ready for a year-long GOP rendition of the Mahabharata

I usually stay away from wasting spending my time blogging about the presidential election issues.  But, sometimes, like in this one, I yield to the temptation ;)

Next week, the Grand Old-People Party debates begin.  It is going to be wonderful theatre from the first minute of the first debate of the primaries next week all the way to the convention in mid-July next year.  Not that we have not been entertained until now; the Donald has pretty much made himself the entertainer-in-chief.

All the theatrics aside,on a substantive level, I am disappointed that Rand Paul has faded away already.  He contributed a great deal to the national (and international) discussions on the unconstitutional and secretive security apparatus, the presidential wars without Congressional approval, and a lot more which most other wimps senators did not want to address.
Even as his campaign struggles, many of his issues are doing surprisingly well—in fact, that’s a big part of the reason why Paul has struggled to define himself. The formerly indomitable Ex-Im bank has been vanquished, though perhaps it will return in another form; the N.S.A. has been reformed, though lightly; a “diplomatic solution” seems imminent in Iran, though of course people disagree about its effectiveness; criminal-justice reform has bipartisan momentum, though it may yet meet with resistance; politicians wishing to hamper companies like Uber are meeting stiff resistance, though they will keep trying. These are all tentative, partial, and temporary victories—but then, politics rarely offers any other kind. Rand Paul is struggling in the polls, but Paulism looks pretty healthy.
Paul could/should have easily convinced many in the GOP that he is a man of ideas and principles.  Yet, he has already fizzled away.  What gives?
The presidency is the Mahabharata of politics, an epic piece of theater for which serious stamina is required.
You have to love a sentence phrased that well, right?

That essay argues that the likes of Rand Paul never can make it:
what voters truly want are candidates with permanent front-stage personalities — people with a polished public persona, who actually believe their performing selves, to the point that they play those people even in private. Bill Clinton, for instance. He believes himself at all times, even when he’s lying, and he’s the same fellow in a stadium of 40,000 and a private card game of four. Reagan was the same way (indeed, his private self was so elusive that poor Edmund Morris had to fictionalize the biography he ultimately wrote of him, even though he’d gained unprecedented access to Reagan’s aides and diaries). Even Obama fits this definition. He's just as measured in private as in public, and just as professorial. He didn't earn the nickname "no drama Obama" for nothing. ...
If front-stage characters are whom we elect, Rand Paul, the polar opposite, would inevitably have to go.
My favorite Libertarian-Democrat public-intellectual, Camille Paglia sums it up well:
As a libertarian, I find myself agreeing with Rand Paul on so many different social and political issues. Unfortunately, however, Paul lacks gravitas as a physical presence. The U.S. presidency has a highly ceremonial aspect.  The president isn’t merely a prime minister, a political leader–he’s the symbolic embodiment of the nation. Therefore, physical attributes and vocal style are very important.  Despite the cartoons that caricature and ridicule him as a befuddled boy with big ears, Obama has always known how to handle himself as a candidate and then president. He projects a sober, unflappable confidence and presents himself with elegance and grace–all of which produced his success early on, when Hillary was the frontrunner in 2008.  Many Americans were so sick of Bush, with that lumbering cowboy stance of his.  And remember that terrible moment at a European summit when Bush came up behind the seated Angela Merkel and grabbed her by the shoulders?  She jumped out of her skin.  What an embarrassment to the nation! 
Exactly!

I am with Paglia about the Republican candidate that the liberals are not worrying enough about: Scott Walker.  Let us see if he will have the gravitas to brush off the rest.


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