Republicans are hoping, against all the gloom and doom advice their brokers and investment consultants are pouring into their eager ears, that this is just a recession and that everything the Obama Administration is doing is excessive and will be a campaign launching platform for two and four years hence. Their hope flies against powerful winds from virtually all the economists and the news from all over the planet. What then could it be that makes these dogmatic people stand so pat with such a lousy hand? Do they really think that a minority party can bluff its way past a decade long depression in a matter of a couple years?
Look around. The Republicans have no national leader who has garnered the sworn allegiance of the moderates, the conservatives, the religious, the non-religious, the racists and the non-racists. In fact, when described accurately, the various camps of "Republicans" under that tattered tent appear to be less and less a political party and more and more a melange of "perpetual tantrums" that would do Trotsky proud were it the other side of the aisle. The tantrum is about equity and fairness in an iniquitous and unfair world. It is about a moral position that really does not exist. It is a fable, brought up short by the daily lives of those who preach it, dreamed of by the modest souls for whom the real present is so far in "the future" that their heads swim. Their moral position is that society creates moral hazards, like parents do when they fight, divorce, and show all the signs of being human. Morally hazardous civic behaviors-defined as the Democratic ethos-is an easy target because it is so fundamentally uncertain. Certainty resides only in rigid authoritarian postures where national government is strict and virtuous, a state of affairs that could only exist behind closed doors and Cheneyesque secrecy.
The issue of moral hazardry points but to one national leader and it is not Bobby Jindal, the governor of wretched Louisiana. It is, of course, Sarah Palin who inherits whatever bounty this current Republican obsession with moral certitude brings. Palin is the bete noir of the Democrats, the Republicans think. They have already agreed among themselves that only Sarah can save them from fractious dissolution. She does this by being "a morally certain person," playing to the utmost fear of the Republican masses, uncertainty itself. Within this view is the Apocalypse; the belief that end-times are near and that, if you have not been good up to now, this is basically your last chance to purchase a halo and learn how to wear it correctly.
For those Republicans who tend to dismiss the Apocalypse, the imagery nevertheless is fortuitous and easily managed for political purposes. After all, what could go wrong with a strategy that chastens people into being more righteous? What indeed! What could be better than a public strategy that tugs at the administration to keep it from doing all that it could do, which has the deniability that outright lies and misrepresentations can easily assist-the deniability of virtue and righteousness? Who but the Republicans lies about being righteous! And, of course, the effect is to dull the point of the administration's program, to make it less and less effective, a failure, one which the Republicans "had nothing to do with."
The strategy might work if the Democrats and particularly their leader do not move smartly over to Phase Two of post-partisanship. Phase Two is to abandon broadcast bi-partisanship and go entirely for targets of opportunity-the moderates and secularists. The idea is to make it quite plain that the Palin Plan is not secular, not rational, not ever going to be effective, and her movement is just a disjointed smattering of Republican politicians exploiting the moral gullibility of the frightened people.