Friday, October 28, 2016

Weird Things Happening

The Unravelling. By Jonah Goldberg, The Goldberg File

I can’t shake the feeling that all sorts of streaks are coming to an end. Only thrice in the 20th century has a party held on to the White House for three elections in a row. Harding (1920), Coolidge (1924), and Hoover (1928) strung together three wins during the Roaring Twenties. FDR did it because he was essentially president-for-life. George H. W. Bush did it because he was standing on Reagan’s legacy and running against Michael Dukakis, a Black Swan of dorkiness. Only two sitting senators were elected president prior to 2008, when we had no choice but to elect one because both candidates were senators. Other streaks are more ephemeral. Ronald Reagan was the first and only divorced man to be elected president. Even so, there’s been a rule of thumb, which he adhered to, that having an admirable married life — at least in public — was essential to getting elected. That ends this year no matter who wins. The related rule of thumb that you needed to be known as a person of reasonably good character to win your party’s nomination, never mind the presidency, has also come crashing down off the shelf — the magical pixie who guaranteed it has flown out the window. I could do this all day. It used to be that religious leaders at least pretended that a politician’s personal character and faith mattered, even if they were a Republican. It used to be that kowtowing to foreign despots meddling in our elections was a no-no, particularly for the GOP. It used to be a vicious slander to suggest that Democrats were socialists in disguise. But we spent the last year watching Democrats fall all over themselves to insist there’s no meaningful distinction between them and their socialist brethren. The fact that no one wrote such rules down was a sign not of their weakness but of their dogmatic strength. No one ever bothered to write down that candidates shouldn’t brag about the size of their penises either. And I’m sure the jarred-spirit upholding that dictum was more surprised than anyone when he was liberated from his obligations.

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