Yesterday afternoon, Fox News brought on Newt Gingrich to discuss the school shooting in Cleveland, with predictable results. I don't have a link to the video or transcript, but Newt argued that the reason this happened is our depraved society, in which respect for authority has been eroded to the point where...well, I guess to the point where kids have so little respect for their teachers and parents that they'll try to kill their classmates, then commit suicide. If only this boy had been more afraid of getting grounded, this never would have happened.
Last Tuesday, a remarkable article appeared on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, able chronicler of the interests and habits of America's economic elite. "GOP Is Losing Grip On Core Business Vote," it read, no doubt causing more than a few Republican strategists to spit out their morning coffee.
"Some business leaders are drifting away from the party," according to the Journal, "because of the war in Iraq, the growing federal debt and a conservative social agenda they don't share."
Now that people are actually attacking Barack Obama for saying that he doesn't wear an American flag pin because it isn't all that meaningful, one wonders if this might be an opportunity for us to have a genuine discussion about different varieties of patriotism. This is a pretty clear conservative/progressive split. Conservatives are huge fans of symbolic patriotism -- flag lapel pins, flags on cars, full-throated singing of "God Bless the U.S.A." (aka "Proud to Be an American"), and so on -- public displays, in which one demonstrates to other people that one loves America.
Do the supposedly wise and deliberative citizens of Iowa and New Hampshire take their responsibilities seriously? And if they don't, what does that say about the way we're choosing the next leader of the free world?
Iowans at a caucus meeting in Slater, Iowa during the 2004 presidential election. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
In the past week or so, lots of wise and serious commentators have started to say that Hillary Clinton's victory in the Democratic presidential primaries is all but inevitable. She is repeatedly described as having "solidified her lead" (see here, or here, or here), not only because of her strength in national polls, but due to the fact that she now leads in New Hampshire by a healthy margin and is in a virtual three-way tie in Iowa.
For a long time, people on both sides of the aisle have noted what a brilliant political strategist Newt Gingrich is. So one might have expected that when George Stephanopoulos asked him yesterday on "This Week" how Republicans can win the '08 election, he'd have some striking insights. Well... not so much. Here's what he said:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well if - but then if she has the best chance of getting the nomination, you're not running now, but how do you recommend that the Republican nominee takes on Senator Clinton?