Washing yourself is all about Fur, Fur, Fur! Babe, above, covers all the angles.
Democrat operative Donna Brazile -- a real charmer despite our total disagreement with everything we've ever heard come out of her mouth -- on CNN last night commenting on the Potomac primary results:
McCain is all about Fear, Fear, Fear! Obama is all about Hope, Hope, Hope!
John McCain, Potomac primary victory speech:
To encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas that trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope. It is a platitude.
And where better to affirm our ideals than here in Wisconsin, where a century ago the progressive movement was born. It was rooted in the principle that the voices of the people can speak louder than special interests; that citizens can be connected to their government and to one another; and that all of us share a common destiny, an American Dream.
But to which brand of progressivism is Senator Obama referring, we wonder, the vox populi strain his rhetoric suggests or the one rooted in the principle that experts know best what's good for the little people. [Yes, you, Hillary] Austin Bramwell in "Defining Conservatism Down" -- quoted in our post "Preferring truth to wishful thinking" a couple of years back -- recalling the rise and fall of the liberal project by way of a warning to conservatives:
The story of liberalism’s decline is often rehearsed these days, by rueful liberals and gleeful conservatives alike. Few, however, tell the more interesting story of liberalism’s ascendance. The vague sense still prevails that liberalism grew naturally out of 19th-century progressivism before culminating in the New Deal and reaching apogee in the Kennedy administration. This view owes less to history, however, than to liberals’ conceit that theirs is the crowning American ideology.
Liberalism began not as an outgrowth of progressivism but as a reaction to it. The progressive movement, born out of fear of the centralizing tendencies of the Industrial Revolution, lacked intellectual foundations. Its leaders favored a farrago of policies that pitted the farmer against the urban sophisticate, the common man against the plutocrat, the native American versus the immigrant, and traditional religion against modern corruption. Progressives spoke the language of evangelical revival, famously exemplified by William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech. Often literally, they called on their fellow citizens to repent and return to the Lord. As the Progressive Era waned, liberals viewed these populist enthusiasms with dismay.
The people, in [the liberal elites'] view, remained stubbornly benighted, saw political problems in naïve moralistic terms, and could not carry out the project of reform. Accordingly, liberalism’s leading intellects began to fashion a new ideology that called for elite social scientists, rather than a virtuous populace, to address the problems of the modern world . . .
It's liberals' contempt for us little people out here that's always stuck in our craw. You remember Hillary's inedible "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good," not to mention her hubbie's equally indigestible "What if you spend your money wrong?"
Liberalism came of age in the New Deal, which finally succeeded in replacing representative government with a European-style administrative state, staffed by the nation’s ablest, most idealistic men. After World War II, when the national mood no longer favored reform, liberals turned to an even more elite institution -- the Supreme Court -- to continue remaking American society. For a generation, liberalism so dominated American life that, while conservatives saw conservatism as the taste of a saving remnant, liberals became convinced that their ideology expressed the natural sentiments of the American people.
Intellectual sclerosis, however, soon set in . . . As Nixon put it, the Democrats became the party of acid, amnesty, and abortion. They have been losing power ever since.
Earlier that same year back in the age of enlightenment (2005) when Bramwell wrote about the ascension and subsequent fall of liberalism, we confidently blogged in "Bloggers are 'cracking, popping, drilling and peeling their victimes open'":
With Barack "Most Liberal Senator" Obama's Pied Piper Tour, we're not so sure any more about the demise of the leftist utopian dream. "The Phenom" in WSJ Review and Outlook this morning:
What Democrats have needed is an excuse to liberate themselves from the fear that only the Clintons are tough enough to defeat Republicans, and they are now finding that liberation in Mr. Obama.
As Thomas Sowell -- quoted in our post "The improbable is now possible" -- wrote a month back:
By far the best presentation as a candidate, among all the candidates in both parties, is that of Barack Obama. But if he actually believes even half of the irresponsible nonsense he talks, he would be an utter disaster in the White House.
Among the Democrats, the choice between John Edwards and Barack Obama depends on whether you prefer glib demagoguery in its plain vanilla form or spiced with a little style and color.
The choice between both of them and Hillary Clinton depends on whether you prefer male or female demagoguery.
Demagogue. [Greek dēmagōgos, popular leader : dēmos, people + agōgos, leading (from agein, to lead).] Egad. Ann Coulter is just now telling Neil Cavuto on Fox News that George Soros is funding BOTH Obama and John Boy. We already knew that Soros was behind the astroturf-roots clamoring for McCain-Feingold "finance reform."
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10)
We're talking Beltway politicians here. Whatever it takes to win.
Update: Despite our reservations, we find ourselves warming to McCain's candidacy now that he seems headed for the nomination, looking for good omens in the entrails of the writings of our favorite thinkers. Daniel Henniger's "Obama at the Top" in Thursday's WSJ didn't disappoint:
Right after [Obama's] Wisconsin speech, TV broadcast another -- by victorious John McCain. The contrast with Sen. Obama's is stark. The arc of the McCain speech is upward, positive. Pointedly, he says we are not history's "victims." Barack relentlessly pushes victimology.
For Sen. Obama the military and national security is a world of catastrophe welded to Iraq and filled with maimed soldiers. Mr. McCain locates these same difficult subjects inside the whole of American military achievement. It nets out as a more positive message. Recall that Ronald Reagan's signature optimism, when it first appeared, was laughed at by political pros. Optimism won elections.
Whatever else, Barack Obama isn't talking sunshine in America. He's talking fast and furious. People not yet baptized into Obamamania may start to look past the dazzling theatrics to see a vision of the United States that is quite grim and could wear thin in the general election.
Onward and upward. Yes we can.
Update: More onward and upward movement at Dr. Sanity's Carnival of the Insanities.