Here's an idea for Campaign 2008 …. Tivo the whole thing so you can fast forward past the boring parts. Like the Oscars, this campaign runs the risk of people tuning out too soon. This past week, from Hollywood to the Christian Right, its been a battle for the Elites, and more evidence that the cultural extremes are out of touch with reality.
At least the Oscars only lasts for one day. The campaign news gets recycled through multiple news casts, trying to make something out of nothing, like those interesting, but useless, Pilobus performances at the "green" Oscars. We salute the National Resources Defense Council's efforts to use the Oscars to promote more "green practices" knowing that every little bit helps, but not even Scorsese could have directed Leonardo DiCaprio's "green" lines to pass the laugh test amidst all the excess that is Oscar night. Al Gore and the triumph that An Inconvenient Truth is, was an authentic dose of reality against a backdrop of extravagance.
Leading up to Hollywood's self-indulgent glamfest, two other Democrats started "Elite Week" with the Clinton camp showing a little fang, the Obama camp showing it can be knocked off the high-road, and over what? Money and a Hollywood music/movie mogul's assessment of the horse race. Not exactly the lofty debate about progressive ideals most hope for.
Not to be outdone in terms of elitism, the self-annointed but allegedly divinely-inspired hierarchy of the Christian Right met at its annual off-the-record confab at the exlcusive Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, in Florida. Under the auspices of the Council for National Policy, founded by Tim LaHaye, an elite few but powerful right-wing leaders concluded they are being left behind. They are not happy with the purests their movement has churned up, Sam Brownback being the purest of them all is seen as weak, and Romney, Giuliani, McCain and others are paying for past sins as "untrustworthy." Christian Right leaders seem to struggle most with the forgiveness part of their faith. How far will McCain, Giuliani and others go to please this shrinking political force, and by doing so alienate the moderates they might otherwise bring home?
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Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas is the best bet to emerge from the pack of pretenders to claim the far right's hearts and minds, and thus pocketbooks and deflated ground troops post-2006. He is a Baptist Minister who is pro-life. But here's the rub: while believing that life begins at conception, he does not believe it ends at birth, and takes a strong stance (realtively speaking within the GOP) supporting maternal health, child care, improved health care and education programs.
For that, he finds himself on the outs with the true agenda setters behind the conservative movement, the anti-tax crowd led by Grover Norquist. Huckabee, who as Governor understands balancing budgets and taxation issues unlike the current administration, is being pressed to sign Norquist's infamous litmus pledge to not raise taxes.
But Norquist offered all the GOP candidates the latest in what amounts to the far right's equivalent of the "green" Oscars …. "second virginity."
He argued that with the right promises, any of the four could redeem themselves in the eyes of the conservative movement despite their past records, just as some high school students take abstinence pledges even after having had sex. “It’s called secondary virginity,” Mr. Norquist said. “It is a big movement in high school and also available for politicians.”
"Second Virginity" is a pledge that doesn't mean much against the reality of teen sexuality, just as a no tax pledges means nothing in the face of mounting war debt. How much further removed from reality could either party, or either end of the cultural spectrum, really get?