|Puff! The Tragic Dragonless Leadership|
By Quin Hillyer
Wednesday, January 25 2012
The utter fecklessness of top conservative office-holders is stunning. Faced with what most of them call a make-or-break, now-or-never election, most of them are so brave, so ready to meet the moment, so willing to step up to the plate… that they sit on the sidelines, quaking in their boots, afraid to make a stand because they don’t want to risk even a bit of their own political capital.
Here they are, these mighty men of steel, these women who pretend to be of Thatcherite iron. They fulminate against The One Obama, leader of Occupy the Oval Office. They say the country can’t survive four more years with him in the West Wing. They say the nation’s economy will collapse if we don’t fix the budget soon. The apocalypse approacheth.
But they won’t lead.
They think they see an extremely weak Republican field for president. But none of them will run. None of them will endorse somebody who does have the guts to run. And none of them will even announce that any one candidate is unacceptable. Instead, they just, well, wait. They watch. They hope. And they make excuses.
They remind me of the yellow dog Mustard, the black kitten Ink, and the little mouse Blink, from Ogden Nash’s “The Tale of Custard the Dragon”. These three brave critters and their owner, Belinda, endlessly teased their cowardly friend the dragon.
Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
So they reveled in their courage, yes they did, while making fun of their “realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.”
At least that’s what they did until a fierce and deadly pirate, intent on mayhem, climbed through the window:
Belinda paled, and she cried Help! Help!
So, too, have our supposed leaders strategically mouseholed. Ask almost any of them in private, and I guarantee they’ll say they are worried sick about what will happen, for instance, if Newt Gingrich is the party’s presidential nominee. They are sure Obama will crush him, certain he’ll stop Republicans from winning the Senate, and convinced he seriously threatens, and maybe even guarantees, the loss of the House as well. Yet they still won’t budge. They have budgets to draft, and PACs to administer, and committee-assignment ambitions, and vice presidential dreams.
Oh, yes, those vice presidential dreams. You see, if they are conservatives themselves, well, they can’t endorse another strong conservative, because if that conservative wins he might want a moderate to balance the ticket – which would rule them out. But they can’t endorse a moderate, not even to suck up to him for vice presidential purposes, because by doing so it would kill their conservative “street cred” and thus undermine their appeal to the very audience the moderate might want their help appealing to.
Oh, what a predicament! Oh, what pressure! Oh, the humanity!
Oh, what a crock.
If the nation is at risk, then Republicans must get it right. If Obama is such a danger, then he must be beaten. And if one candidate is substantively better, personally more trustworthy, and/or a much more likely candidate to offer a bigger electoral upside than downside, then the leader should endorse him. Or, if the converse is true about any particular candidate, then make a strong, unambiguous, “Anybody-But-This-Guy” statement – and then back it up. Explain it. Defend it. Persuade people you are right.
Granted, there is such a thing as a hierarchy of endorsements. Many endorsements don’t carry much weight. Then again, some do. Some carry a lot of weight. Some people have considerable stature. Some people really can move voters.
And they know who they are. Somebody in the position to move a lot of voters is a smart enough politician to know he’s in such a position. He (or she) knows that he (or she) carries weight. A good politician knows his own muscle…..
…. Wait… What?.... You want me to name names?.... You wanna know who are these top-tier politicos of whom I speak? You want me on the record calling them cowards?
You gotta be kidding. I might lose a source. They might not give me any more interviews. … Come on, where is that mousehole when I need it?!?
What we really need right now is another Custard. In the Ogden Nash poem, the dragon was only cowardly until faced with a menace. But when Belinda needed protection, the kindly dragon ate the pirate. Isn’t there among conservative leaders at least one beneficent dragon who will save the day?
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