The key to unabashed cheerfulness, like mine, is moderating expectations. Set low enough standards, as some ancient codger must have mused, and you'll never be disappointed. So, wide-eyed optimists jarred from a deep sleep by a furious thunderclap will take heart -- if our roof isn't leaking, the house still level, and the toilet flushes. We positivists wake to the morning's renewed, infinite possibilities -- until space, time, commuting, bosses, or family-holiday dinners intervene.
In this spirit, let's tackle the wild idea that fringe extremism hijacked a less delusional, "conservative" party open to compromise. Right, the steamroller for decades busting its gut to repeal the 20th Century by reinstating the ominous 19th. Or for Newt (no child labor laws) Gingrich, the 18th. Nevertheless, this season's spectacle of imploding nincompoops caused the pundit left to overshoot, stereotyping every rightwing claim as irrational and extreme. Today, we unpack moderate chunks in the extremist gumbo by adopting this philosophic perspective: "could be worse." Optimists are optimistic not because we think things are great but because we can imagine worse.
"This is nothing'
Reality, after all, is 80% perspective, unless you're flattened by pain, in jail, drenched by pepper-spray or bloodied by a police riot. To get a handle on what appears careening out of control, recall Dustin Hoffman's refrain, as the producer in Wag the Dog: "this is nothing. This is nothing. D'you ever shoot in Italy? Try three Italian starlets whacked out on Benzedrine and grappa, this is a walk in the park."
First up -- what seems moral and legal depravity: war cries from stumbling, third-rate fringe candidates to keep torture in our anti-terrorism tool kit. Rick Perry is willing to defend waterboarding "until I die," a curious turn of phrase considering how many die from torture. Nevertheless, we're gifted with another unforgettable Perryism: "Give them torture or give me death."
Of course torture only qualifies as torture when done to someone else, say pepper-spraying blatant enemies of the state, like that non-violent, 84 year old woman from Seattle. Thankfully, this heroic Occupy protester wasn't locked up, nor tortured further, put on the rack, nor scheduled for rendition. So far, we think, she's escaped the White House hit list, our honor roll of untried citizen marauders up for termination. Like I said, there's always good news if you look hard enough.
The Untortured 99%