At this point, the entire 2012 electoral campaign hinges on how Obama's better, more composed, deep-thinking non-tabloid personality-- n0 matter how some spinners are now trying to make people buy the idea that Obama's self-control is fake-- overcomes the myriad of negative campaign tactics, official and unofficial, that are being used against him by Republicans who will not stop at any rank opportunism or dirty trick if it will just win elections.
If it will just win THIS election. Republican politics is the end product of pragmatist philosophy.
Now pragmatism, reduced to its starkest terms, is the philosophy that argues that the individual is best served by determining for his or herself (situationally) what his or her given goal is, and then pursuing any and all methods to achieve that goal.
In three brutally short words, do whatever works. And Republicans have always, certainly since Nixon's Southern Strategy of the 1960s began a certain amalgamation of conservatives under the Republican banner, been of the Vince Lombardi School of politics: winning ain't everything, it's the only thing.
There are no Democratic analogues, looking back over the history of my adult lifetime, to men like Lee Atwater, Karl Rove-- Fred Karger-- to say nothing of real cloak-and-dagger men like G. Gordon Liddy, Charles Colson and the E. Howard Hunt/Cuban exile Watergate "plumbers".
Congressional Democrats play politics, but they appear flat, beaten down by a mixture of greater Republican will expressed as bombast, and their own now long history of capitulation.
There is a disconnect here, and should Republicans actually make gains in 2012, even not including the presidency, we will see this disconnect come into sharper focus.
Now, I have spoken to you about the concept of the maintenance of stability and continuity at all costs of the two-Party system. The best example of this so-far bipartisan prime imperative was the capitulation without appeal of the questionable (now we know they were fraudulent, and that the election was stolen) electoral returns in Ohio by John Kerry in the 2004 elections.
In the election before that, the two Parties went to extraordinary lengths to be sure that no third-Party candidate would ever darken the horizon of American Party politics again, when they colluded to be sure that Ralph Nader was not allowed to take part in the presidential debates of 2000, and was in fact escorted from the debate site by security guards when he tried to attend as a private citizen.
The disconnect to which I refer is the difference between Republican and Democratic ascription of priority to this heretofore guiding principle of stability and continuity.
Democrats-- most of them not being BAD people-- will go on thinking that like them, the Republicans are satisfied with the business-as-usual cut-and-thrust of American politics. They will continue to believe that the health of American politics depends on the stability of the two-Party system.
Some of them even still exhibit indications that they might still be less than total pragmatists themselves, that they might still be taking some prompting from those pesky, squishy things called ideals (those, the Republican gerrymanderers are doing their best to unseat by redistricting procedure).
Republicans, though, are guided by their own far greater sense of pragmatism.
Democrats have always (well, since FDR, anyway) been the Party that appeals to the majority of us who are just tryin' to get along.
Republicans have almost always (think about it, go back to McKinley-- to say Lincoln would be ambiguous, Grant and Reconstruction pose different problems, and I don't know whether to except Eisenhower as an outlier) more appealed to driven people, folks with a sense of mission.
Republicans will at some point (2010 might have been that point already) decide they don't NEED the liberal opposition. Climb the building (win big enough majorities at Congressional and State levels simultaneously), then kick away the ladder, because godly government comes next, you can bet your Bible on it.